Professor of Practice
Research and Creative Interests
- journalism practice
- Foreign Correspondence
- media ethics
- Strategic Communication
- Crisis communication
- Representations of Religion
- Northern Ireland Peace Process
- Scottish Independence Movement
Elaine Monaghan is a veteran reporter, writer and foreign correspondent who joined the Media School faculty in 2014. She teaches undergraduate and graduate students about data, editing, reporting and writing. She is education co-lead at the Observatory on Social Media and serves on the board of the Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalism. She serves as an editor for her professional alma mater, Reuters, supporting the team of correspondents covering the Ukraine war.
Born in Scotland, Elaine is a graduate of Reuters’ journalism training program in London. During her first posting, to Moscow, she covered conflict, disasters, elections, financial markets and economic and business news across the former Soviet Union. She later ran Reuters’ coverage of Ukraine, and of the ascent to power of President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
As chief correspondent in Dublin, Elaine led a team of journalists covering Ireland’s entry to European monetary union and of Northern Ireland’s historic peace deal.
Thanks to her years as a wire journalist, Elaine is accustomed to covering the news in collaborative, multimedia teams, for example during the Kosovo conflict when she reported from the refugee camps of Albania and Macedonia, and from Kosovo itself. In 1999, she became State Department correspondent for Reuters, and spent three years traveling with secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell. Later, as Washington correspondent for The Times, she wrote about the Iraq invasion and other top U.S. stories, and penned a regular online column, Abroad in America.
She is coauthor of “On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence,” a CIA memoir that was translated into several languages. Elaine blogged for Microsoft UK about the 2008 presidential election campaign and served as foreign policy correspondent and as a magazine writer for Congressional Quarterly. As vice president for a strategic communications firm in Washington DC, she served numerous clients, including Amnesty International USA.
I first aspired to be a journalist growing up in the tiny Scottish village of Twynholm. At night, I listened to BBC Radio for hours. I wanted to travel, learn languages and understand people, so I took French, German and Russian at the University of Glasgow and taught English in Berlin for my year abroad. I remember telling my Russian professor, Peter Henry, where I was going. Just watch that wall come tumbling down, he said, from behind his bushy white beard.
He was completely right. A few weeks after my arrival, the border between what was then West and East Germany opened. I remember standing on top of the wall and looking down on joyous crowds to the West, then turning to East Berlin where hundreds of soldiers were looking up at us. I felt a tremendous urge to jump down and ask about their fears, hopes and plans, and then tell everyone about it. So after finishing my master’s at Glasgow, I applied to Reuters graduate journalism training program, where I learned the craft of news writing.
I also learned how to behave ethically in my reporting life, which unfolded in more countries than I can count. I am deeply passionate about the ethical use of words and journalism’s potential to change the world. Every day I come to work, past the heroic war correspondent Ernie Pyle working away at his typewriter, and hope that none of my students see the crazy Scottish lady thanking a statue.
I love teaching as much as I loved being a foreign correspondent. I try to pass on my passion for news and storytelling, fondness of deep research, respect for the responsible journalist and determination to educate the public with crisply written words and above all, our profound curiosity about humanity.
Elaine is coordinating Story Lab II, and Social Media Manipulation 101, a new course about how to understand and navigate the spread of dis- and misinformation online that is being taught by a team of faculty from The Media School and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
In Fall 2021, Elaine taught the J-410 media ethics capstone course and a 300-level course in data analysis for journalism and public relations, which serves a mixed community of undergraduates and graduates. She taught both these courses in a new, ultra-collaborative and experimental classroom in Woodburn Hall.
In Spring 2022, Elaine led a team of faculty teaching Story Lab II, a new course focused on collaborative, multimedia approaches to journalistic storytelling.
In Fall 2020 Elaine taught C-225, a required reporting class for undergraduates, J-505, the intensive reporting and writing workshop for Master of Science students in journalism, and J-410, the capstone media ethics course in the journalism degree. In Spring 2021, Elaine taught R-349, Public Relations writing, as a service learning course, working closely with our neigbhbors in Washington County, Indiana, through IU’s Center for Rural Engagement. She also co-taught an intensive, pre-semester course called “Hacks and Flacks,” which examined the intersection of journalism and public relations.
Elaine taught C-225, a required reporting class for undergraduates, and J-505, the intensive reporting and writing workshop for Master of Science students in journalism. This academic year her graduate students are focusing on covering the environment, with an emphasis on solutions journalism.
Elaine taught the media ethics, J-410 course. Her students collaborated with Kinzen, a startup co-founded by Mark Little, founder of Storyful. She continues to pursue collaborative, interdisciplinary opportunities with colleagues across campus and further afield.
Elaine taught Public Relations Writing for undergraduates and the intensive reporting and writing course for graduate students in the Media School Master’s program.
Elaine taught an interdisciplinary course that took students from the media school, religious studies and the School of Global and International Studies to Ireland on a reporting trip over spring break. Students presented their work, at an April 24-26 symposium she organized called “Representing Religion.” The symposium, which featured leading scholars and journalists from IU, the United States, Europe and Africa, was funded by a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs.
Research, grants, other university affiliations
- Board chair, the Poynter Center for the Study of American Ethics and Institutions
- Recipient of American Council of Learned Societies’ inaugural grants for its Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs, for “Perceptions of Religion”
- Two-time recipient, Kemp Development Grant from Media School’s journalism unit, to revise core reporting courses for graduate students in journalism; 2020 winner of Kemp teaching fellowship
- Affiliate faculty, Islamic Studies and Russian & East European Institute, both at IU’s School of Global & International Studies
Recent Interviews, Publications
- Hard Brexit conjures nightmares across Ireland. News-Decoder
- While Boris Johnson fiddles, my Scottish emigre heart burns. Washington Post
- Journalists: Solitary Stretcher-bearers or Guiding Lights? News-Decoder
- Interview with Photojournalist Steve Raymer on WFIU’s “Profiles”
- Reflections on Noblesville Shooting: Our Schools Shouldn’t Be War Zones. The Indianapolis Star
- Do You Want Change? Beware Inertia. News-Decoder
- Interview with New York Times Columnist Roger Cohen on WFIU’s “Profiles”
- Interview with NPR correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson on WFIU’s “Profiles”
- Interviewed by Patrick O’Meara on WFIU’s “Profiles”
- “Lookouts on the Watchtower”
- “This is Russia”
Follow Elaine Monaghan on Twitter @IUMediaScotProf.
Find out here how to join the IU student chapter of News Decoder, the award-winning educational startup where she serves as a correspondent.