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Gwen Shaffer


Gwen Shaffer joined the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication as an assistant professor in January 2012. She currently teaches courses in multimedia journalism and communication law.

Prior to her position at CSULB, Gwen was a postdoctoral researcher in the computer science department at University of California, Irvine. There, she worked on several studies examining how to best incorporate telecommunications policy and economic realities into the Internet architecture. Specifically, the research considered telecommunications company mergers, expanding the application of open internet principles, and wireless device attachment.

Gwen earned a PhD in Mass Media & Communication from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2009. Her dissertation examined the potential for peer-to-peer networking to help bridge the digital divide in the United States. This multi-disciplinary study was grounded in social movement, civic engagement and political economy theories, and was selected by the National Science Foundation for a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. More recently, Gwen co-authored a study concluding that universal broadband access and computer literacy alone will not close the digital divide. The article, published in the Journal of Information Policy, proposes a Digital Human Capital framework—which takes into account the complex nature of social exclusion in the informational age. In 2013, Media, Culture & Society published a study Gwen co-authored. This study examines the Federal Communication Commission’s historical use of “voluntary commitments” when approving telecommunications company mergers.

Gwen recently conducted a study that applies critical discourse analysis to examine how language influences digital technology policies. Specifically, she examined how lawmakers and major phone providers symbolically associated widely supported ideas—including net neutrality, job creation, technological innovation and consumer protection—with deregulation of telecommunications services. Her current research project examines the potential for a free WiFi network in East Hollywood to boost  civic engagement in the community.

While pursuing her PhD, Gwen taught courses at both Temple and Drexel universities in news writing, feature writing, freelance reporting, communication theory, public speaking and public policy.

Prior to attending graduate school, Gwen worked as a reporter for more than a dozen years. As a senior writer for the Philadelphia City Paperfrom 1998 to 2001, she filed investigative news features, as well as wrote a weekly column on City Council and local politics. Later, she worked as a staff writer for Philadelphia Weekly, where her cover stories tackled complex policy trends such as the city’s widening wealth disparity and zoning code reform. Gwen’s freelance articles have been published in The New RepublicColumbia Journalism ReviewThe NationE/The Environmental MagazinePhiladelphia magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Business Journal, and Arrive magazine, among other publications. Previously, Gwen also held several editorial positions at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.

Published Articles:

Chapters in Edited Books

Office Location: LA4-206C
Phone: 562-985-5433

For syllabi for these and all Department of Journalism & Mass Communication classes, click here.