Allissa V. Richardson is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. She researches how African Americans use mobile and social media to produce innovative forms of journalism—especially in times of crisis. Richardson is the author of Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism (Oxford University Press, 2020). The book explores the lives of 15 mobile journalist-activists who documented the Black Lives Matter movement using only their smartphones and Twitter, from 2014 to 2018.
Richardson’s research is informed by her award-winning work as an instructor and journalist. She is considered a pioneer in mobile journalism (MOJO), having launched the first smartphone-only college newsroom in 2010. The MOJO Lab, based on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, was the only US college to boast such a program at the time. Richardson expanded the MOJO Lab curriculum throughout the continent of Africa, creating classes for allied nonprofit organizations in Morocco and South Africa. The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) said Richardson empowered her students around the globe “to speak truth to power using new media.” NABJ recognized her as its 2012 Journalism Educator of the Year for her international work. Apple, Inc. inducted Richardson into its elite Distinguished Educator program for her innovative uses of its products the following year. She is also a recipient of two prestigious Harvard University posts: the Nieman Foundation’s Visiting Journalism Fellowship and the Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Fellowship.