David Conrad is the Research Director at American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI), where he will be engaged in a groundbreaking, community-based research project on the impact of civic storytelling and social justice documentaries in an era of media mistrust.
Before joining CMSI, he led multiple social change projects as a participatory storytelling and communications consultant for UNICEF, working to bring the voices and experiences of communities in closer communication with the goals and work of U.N. development and humanitarian programs.
His past work interrogates how journalism shapes people’s understanding of global events and stories of social justice, immigration, poverty, crisis, and suffering; how it strategically shapes the contexts upon which news audiences and other institutions are oriented to ‘solve’ or respond to them; and what impact (including the unintended consequences) it is having on the people it aims to help and the world it intends to make better. His doctoral dissertation, Misguided Benevolence: How ‘Moments of Need’ Came to Motivate American Journalism, takes a critical and ethnographic look at these issues through the historical and present-day intersection of nonprofits and news making.
Conrad most recently worked as a producer for On the Media (WNYC) and The World (BBC World Service/PRI). His work and research have received numerous awards, and he has reported or written media critiques for publications that include Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy, Globe & Mail, New York Times, Reuters, and the San Francisco Chronicle. His reporting has also received support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Google Journalism Fellowship program, and the Knight Foundation.
Conrad earned a Ph.D. (2018) from the University of Pennsylvania (The Annenberg School for Communication), and an M.A. in International Affairs (Communication for Development Studies) from Ohio University.