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College of Information and Communications

Faculty and Staff

Tara Marie Mortensen, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor
Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communications
College of Information and Communications
Website: Student Design Work
Phone: 803-514-7015
Office: School of Journalism and Mass Communications
800 Sumter Street, Room 123
Columbia, SC 29208

Curriculum Vitae



B.S., Mass Communication, Black Hills State University
M.S., Journalism, South Dakota State University 
Ph.D., Journalism, University of Oklahoma


Dr.  Tara Mortensen studies visual communication, media sociology, de-professionalization of visual journalism, amateur photography and user-generated (visual) content.


Mortensen teaches creativity, visual research, conceptualization, the Adobe Suite programs and interactive/animation programs, including Flash and Edge. She is a typography enthusiast.  The courses she teaches are Introduction to Visual Communication, Graphics for Visual Communication and Infographics for the Mass Media.

Recent Publications

Mortensen, T., Moscowitz, L., Wan, A. & Yang, A. (2018).  The marijuana user in US news media: An examination of visual stereotypes of race, culture, criminality and normification. Visual Communication, forthcoming.

Mortensen, T. Wan, A., & Yang, A. (2018). Now that the smoke has cleared: Examining visual stereotypes of marijuana users before and after legalization in Colorado. Visual Studies, forthcoming.

Wan, A., Mortensen, T., Zhu, Y., Jo-Yun Li, Q. (2018). From Confrontations to Civil Liberties: Newspaper Photo Framing of Police Brutality and Riots in Los Angeles 1992 and Ferguson, Mo. 2014. Newspaper Research Journal, forthcoming.

Mortensen, T., & Gade, P. (2018). Does photojournalist matter? A content analysis of photojournalism in the Times Herald-Record before and after layoffs of the photojournalism staff. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, currently online only.

Mortensen, T., Hull, K., & Boling, K. (2017). Really social disaster: An examination of professional and ordinary peoples’ photo sharing during times of disaster. Visual Communication Quarterly, 24(4), 219-229.


Panel moderator for “Picturing Democracy” at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston.  This is part of the national initiative spearheaded by the Federation of State Humanities Councils titled “Democracy and the Informed Citizen.” The national initiative and series have been funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Head of the Visual Communications Division of AEJMC (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications)

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.