Information on Lukito and disinformation

The School of Journalism and Media welcomes assistant professor Josephine “Jo” Lukito, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who specializes in linguistic communication.

Lukito holds a Ph.D. and has minors in English Language and Linguistics and Political Science. She is a first-generation undergraduate, and graduate student and researches disinformation and political communications.

In her first semester as faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, Lukito is teaching computational methods, a method she says she has become very familiar with through her previous research. She said her hybrid graduate class gives her the opportunity to work and communicate with her 13 to 14 students in new adaptive ways.

With the nature of her course content being computer-based, she said adapting to online learning has been smoother than expected but moving to Austin was somewhat challenging.

“Moving during this pandemic and everything was one of the strangest and most frustrating experiences, and adjusting to this semester has been very interesting because I definitely didn’t plan to teach the course this way," she said. "One thing I’m really happy I started doing more of is one-on-one meetings with students.”

Lukito moved to Austin in August and said members of the journalism department continue to help her navigate the new city by recommending new places to explore and eat. 

“Without the faculty, I would be totally lost,” Lukito said. “Because I can’t really explore the city the way I would want to.”

She said UT is a great “collaborative environment” where she can work with other professionals like data journalism professor Christian McDonald, “who is doing amazing work.”

She said she and McDonald spoke about implementing more data journalism course content and organizations for undergraduate students. 

“Some of my best conversations since I’ve been in this department have been with him,” she said. “Just thinking about ways in which we can think about data journalism at UT.”

Previously, Lukito researched Russian trolls that accidentally ended up in U.S. news media and she said she was particularly interested in 100 specific media outlets. She found that 75% of those organizations had at least one story with a hyper-partisan opinion from a Russian troll.

Her work was published in the Columbia Journalism Review and was ultimately featured in the Mueller Report.

Originally from New York, Lukito said Austin is a “huge change” for her and her fiancé. She said when she’s not teaching or learning, she loves baking complex pastries and watching science fiction and fantasy movies like "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings."

Samantha Shaps
School of Journalism and Media