- PhD in Communication, University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 2011
- MA in Communication, University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 2010
- AB in History (magna cum laude), Harvard University, 2004
- Social Media
- Future of Journalism, Platforms, and Political Communication
- Journalism Studies
- Media Sociology
- Qualitative Methods
From 2019-2020, Nikki Usher, Ph.D. (she/they), was a fellow at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. She has been a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a fellow at the Reynold's Institute at the University of Missouri. Dr. Usher was the winner of the Tankard Award for best book for Making News at the New York Times. Interactive Journalism was also finalist for the Tankard Award, making Dr. Usher the first solo author to be a two-time finalist. Prior to their time at Illinois, Dr. Usher was an assistant and associate professor at George Washington University.
She is the winner of the AEJMC Emerging Scholar Award and was named the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Outstanding Junior Scholar, in addition to joining the Kopenhaver Center as a leadership fellow. They frequently comment on the evolving news media landscape, serving as an expert source for journalists, and, on occasion, writes commentary for industry-facing and popular press outlets.
Dr. Usher is best known for her extensive fieldwork in elite newsrooms around the world. She has three active research streams. Her book project, "The Where of News," currently under contract with Columbia University Press, looks at the contested nature of place in journalism. Dr. Usher's second major research stream investigates elite political news media, principally in Washington, using mixed methods to understand press performance, amplification of bad actors, and polarization. Her third major research stream examines the changing role of news business models and developments in news innovation, particularly around new models for funding and new ways of doing journalism, such as AI and machine-learning.