Kathryn Montalbano

Kathryn Montalbano, Ph.D.


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Personal profile


Kathryn Montalbano (she/her) is an assistant professor of media law and ethics at the University of Kentucky’s School of Journalism and Media in the College of Communication and Information. She is a historian of communications who specializes in communication law, religion and media, and surveillance studies.

She earned her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University (Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences + Columbia Journalism School from 2010-2016), and her B.A. in English with a minor in sociology from Haverford College in 2009.


Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Kathryn's research examines the history and impact of communication law and policy on speech, assembly, and religious expression in the United States since the nineteenth century. This multidisciplinary work draws from the fields of history, law, religious studies, sociology and communication studies.

Her first book, Government Surveillance of Religious Expression: Mormons, Quakers, and Muslims in the United States (Routledge, 2018), compares how United States government agencies in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries monitored and negotiated the identities of three distinctive religious groups within cultural and legal frameworks deeply rooted in Protestant hegemony.

She has also published on the historical continuity between the opposition of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) to the 1949 Fairness Doctrine and the contemporary Open Internet principle, net neutrality; intercultural communication in three thirteenth-century Franciscan friars’ narratives documenting their travels through the Mongol Empire; Islamophobic discourse and misinformation in alternative-right media; tensions in Mississippi Valley news coverage of the 1878 yellow fever epidemic; why the hyperlocal, anonymous platform, Yik Yak, although recently resurrected, died in its original form; content moderation on anonymous social media platforms under the protection of Section 230; how contemporary religion reporters conceptualize their roles in the broader field of journalism; and how they confront the privileging of certain religions over others in their reporting.

Current research traces the historical precedents for protecting communication spaces through media law and policy in the United States to the 1835 abolitionist mail controversy, providing historical context for contemporary debates over Section 230.

Additional work examines how broadcast journalists on the “Big Three” networks from 1968 to 1979 framed religion both within and beyond the United States, and the legal and ethical implications of the 303 Creative decision.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia Univ School Of General


Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Master of Philosophy, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Master of Philosophy, Columbia Univ School Of General


Master of Arts, Columbia Univ School Of General


Master of Arts, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Bachelor of Arts, Haverford College



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