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About

I study and write about media and technology policy and the information needs of communities. I’m passionate about the power of networked information to improve our democracy.

Photo by Lissa Gotwals

This website is a home for my various professional and public service activities relating to media. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent the views of my employer or the organizations with which I work.

I am an Associate in Research at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. I also contribute to the Media Policy Initiative of the New America Foundation as a part-time research fellow. MPINAF published my case study of the Triangle area’s information ecology.

In May 2010, I graduated from the Master of Public Policy program at Duke University.


Prior to entering graduate school, I was a reporter and editor for 10 years. I wrote stories about local media, technology, politics and many other topics for the Independent Weekly, the alt weekly in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

I also serve on the boards of directors of two nonprofit news organizations, the Institute for Southern Studies and the Raleigh Public Record.

I am very fortunate to work with Prof. James Hamilton, author of All the News That’s Fit to Sell. Prof. Hamilton is director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke.

In the summer of 2010, I began my ongoing research with the New America Foundation’s Media Policy Initiative, a Knight Foundation-funded project that emerged from the Knight Commission Report, “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age.” I continue to collaborate with Tom Glaisyer and other NAF colleagues on research intended to ground media and technology policy in the experiences of local communities.

For the Independent, the alternative weekly newspaper serving the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, I wrote about a wide variety of local issues. I’ve covered city council meetings, bills before the state legislature, art exhibits, anti-war protests, gay rights issues and the local music scene, among many other things.  (See my archives page for links to these stories.) My occasional column, The Monitor, explored issues of media and technology in a local and regional perspective.

Before I started at the Independent in January 2003, I worked in the books editorial department of Duke University Press. Prior to moving to Durham in July 2001, I worked for three and a half years at Salon.com in San Francisco, where I was an associate editor in the news department. I am a graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle.

My husband, Barry Varela, is a writer and researcher at the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society at Duke University and the author of books for young readers. I have a 4-year-old son and two stepdaughters, ages 15 and 17.

You can reach me by email at morganvarela (at) gmail or via Twitter @fionamorgan or LinkedIn.

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