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Lawrence studies media coverage of politics and policy and the role of media in civic engagement. Her current projects examine social media strategies of political campaigns, particularly of female candidates, and how newsrooms are incorporating public engagement strategies into their daily work.

Lawrence has conducted numerous studies analyzing media coverage of politics and policy issues, including the 2008 Democratic primary and its historical predecessors, the so-called “death panels” controversy, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, shootings in public schools, the obesity epidemic, welfare reform, and other issues. Her work on journalistic norms and routines, including the “game-framing” of political news and media coverage of high-profile news events, has been widely cited. Her research has appeared in Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Journalism, Journalism Studies, and the International Journal of Press/Politics.