Sean Aday

Sean Aday
Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs, Director of the M.A. in Media and Strategic Communication
MPA 417
[email protected]

Sean Aday joined the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs in 2000, after completing his Ph.D. and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on the intersection of the press, politics and public opinion, especially in relation to war and foreign policy, public diplomacy and the role of digital media in democracy movements and countering violent extremism.

Dr. Aday has published widely on subjects ranging from the effects of watching local television news, to coverage of American politics and media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been involved in global media and government capacity training projects, including work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For seven years, Dr. Aday directed GW’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication and its Global Communication M.A. program.

As part of a National Science Foundation grant, he, along with two colleagues, conducted a series of surveys about Americans' attitudes about government and media following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Recently, he received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to study media coverage of cybersecurity issues. Aday was also the principle investigator for DC Student Voices, a curriculum-based project in Washington D.C. high schools that aimed to get students more involved in politics. He has been a frequent commentator in the press on news coverage of elections, crime and war.

Before entering academia, Dr. Aday served as a general assignment reporter for The Kansas City Star, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Greenville News (South Carolina). He graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1990.


Ph.D., The Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 1999
M.A., The Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 1995
B.S.J., The Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1990 


Journal Articles

Watching From Afar: Media Consumption Patterns Around the Arab Spring.” Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Deen Freelon, Marc Lynch, and John Sides. (2013). American Behavioral Scientist, 57(7), pp. 899-919.

Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict After the Arab Spring.” Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, John Sides and Deen Freelon. (2012). U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report.

Advancing New Media Research.” Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, and John Sides. (2010) U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report.

Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics.” Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, John Sides. (2010). U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report.

Chasing the Bad News: An Analysis of 2005 Iraq and Afghanistan War Coverage on NBC and Fox News Channel.” (2010) Journal of Communication, 60(1), pp. 144-164.

Leading the Charge: Media, Elite Cues, and Emotion in Public Support for War.” (2010). Journal of Communication, 60(3), pp. 440-465.

NGOs as Intelligence Agencies: The Empowerment of Transnational Advocacy Networks and the Media by Commercial Remote Sensing.” Sean Aday and Steven Livingston. (2009). Geoforum, 40(4), pp. 514-522.

The Framesetting Effects of News: An Experimental Test of Advocacy versus Objectivist Frames.” (2007). Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 83(4), 767-784.

As Goes the Statue, So Goes the War: The Emergence of the Victory Frame in Television Coverage of the Iraq War.” Sean Aday, John Cluverius and Steven Livingston. (2005). Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 49(3), 314-331.

Embedding the Truth: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Objectivity and Television Coverage of the Iraq War.” Sean Aday, Steven Livingston and Maeve Hebert. (2005). Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 10(1), 3-21.

A Panel Study of Media Effects on Political and Social Trust After September 11th.” Kim Gross, Sean Aday, and Paul Brewer. (2004). Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 9(4), 49-74.

International Trust and Public Opinion About World Affairs.” Paul Brewer, Kim Gross, Sean Aday, and Lars Willnat. (2004). American Journal of Political Science, 48(1), 93-110.

The Scary World in Your Living Room and on Your Neighborhood: Using Local Broadcast News, Neighborhood Crime Rates, and Personal Experience to Test Agenda Setting and Cultivation Hypotheses.” Kim Gross and Sean Aday. (2003). Journal of Communication, 53(3), 411-426.

Style Over Substance: Newspaper Coverage of Elizabeth Dole’s Presidential Bid.” Sean Aday and James Devitt. (2001). Harvard Journal of Press and Politics, 6(2), 52-73.

Classes Taught

SMPA 1050, Media in a Free Society
SMPA 3194, Media and War
SMPA 3472, Media and Foreign Policy
SMPA 2102, Introduction to Political Communication

Sean Aday

Sean Aday Soundbite

"Putting the SMPA model to work in war zones and emerging democracies was a challenge, but very rewarding."

Professor Sean Aday explains how his work in Iraq and Afghanistan to train journalists and spokespeople has they put together a functioning liberal press state system informs his research and classroom teaching.

The Faculty Soundbites Series reveals the most captivating and rewarding aspects of SMPA professors' work in the field and in the classroom.