Patrick Lee Plaisance


Patrick Lee Plaisance

Don W. Davis Professor in Ethics

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  • Media Sociology
  • Moral Psychology
  • Media Ethics
  • Moral Theory
  • Newsroom Socialization


  • Bachelor's: Missouri
  • Master's: College of William & Mary
  • Ph.D.: Syracuse



Patrick Lee Plaisance is the Don W. Davis Professor in Ethics in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. He also is an Affiliate Faculty member with the Rock Ethics Institute. His research focuses on media ethics theory, moral psychology theory and methods, and the philosophy of technology as applied to media systems and practices.

He is author of a textbook, "Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice" (Cognella, 3rd Ed., 2020), which is used nationwide, and a book featuring original research, "Virtue in Media: The Moral Psychology of Excellence in News and Public Relations" (Routledge, 2015). He is editor of the "Handbook of Communication & Media Ethics" (DeGruyter Mouton, 2018). He serves as editor of the Journal of Media Ethics, which is the flagship journal for peer-reviewed research in the field from around the world. He also writes a regular blog on media ethics issues for Psychology Today.

He has published more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and his work has appeared in research journals, including Communication Research, Communication Theory, the Journal of Communication, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.

Before coming to Penn State, he taught at Colorado State University for 15 years. He also had a career of nearly 15 years as a newspaper journalist in New Jersey, south Florida and Virginia, where he specialized in state-level political reporting. He received his Ph.D. From Syracuse University.


In the News


  • Plaisance, P.L. (Ed.). (2018). The Concept of Moral Ecology in Media Sociology Research. Communication Theory.
  • Plaisance, P.L., & Tropman, E. (2016). Moral realism and ethical naturalism in media ethics theory. Ethical Space 13 (4)., 11-17.
  • Plaisance, P.L. (2016). Media ethics theorizing, re-oriented: A shift in focus for individual-level analyses. Journal of Communication 66 (3), 454-474.
  • Plaisance, P.L. (2015). Virtue in Media: The Moral Psychology of Excellence in News & Public Relations. New York: Routledge.
  • Plaisance, P.L., Hanitzsch, T., & Skewes, E.A. (2015). Ethical orientations of journalists around the globe: Implications from a cross-national survey. Communication Research 39 (5), 641-661.
  • Plaisance, P.L. (2014). Virtue in Media: The Moral Psychology of U.S. Exemplars in News & PR. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 91 (2), 308-325.


Patrick Lee Plaisance
128 Carnegie Building