Professor Jackie Harrison

BA (Hallam), PhD (Sheffield)

School of Journalism, Media and Communication

Professor of Public Communication

Head of department

UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity

A profile photograph of Professor Jackie Harrison.
Profile picture of A profile photograph of Professor Jackie Harrison.
+44 114 222 2509

Full contact details

Professor Jackie Harrison
School of Journalism, Media and Communication
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

Jackie Harrison is Professor of Public Communication, UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity and has been chair of the interdisciplinary research institute Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) since 2008.  She joined the School of Journalism, Media and Communication as a lecturer in September 1996 and was appointed Professor of Public Communication in January 2005.

As UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity, Jackie actively promotes in-depth collaborative academic research with centres of expertise, media and NGOs, governments and international bodies on issues of journalism safety, media freedom, freedom of expression, media capture and the effectiveness of the media as a civil institution.

Jackie is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and has worked with the UK government’s Multilateral Policy Directorate, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the International Affairs Unit, Committee Office, House of Commons;  and the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; and appeared before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. She has advised the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as well as the regulator Ofcom and undertaken research for the press regulator IPSO. More widely, she has contributed to reports for the Media Subcommittee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and written a research report for UNESCO on the problem of the use of impunity for crimes against journalists. 

She has acted as an expert advisor for the European Commission with regard to media freedom and safety and contributed to the 2012 UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity and its implementation strategy. As a UNESCO chair Jackie is frequently called upon to contribute to UN and UNESCO fora on journalism safety and media freedom. She served as an adviser to the Taiwanese National Communication Committee and the Taiwan Industry Experts Cable TV Forum on European media regulation and convergence, as an expert witness in a judicial review of a disputed radio licence award in Dublin and on several professional journalism committees.

Jackie has written about the civil power of the news; media freedom and the use of the factual mass media in post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable peace. She is currently researching how and in what ways the civil sphere and its institutional infrastructure of news journalism is variously diminished by, or occasions resistance to, changing civil circumstances.

Research interests


Jackie's area of expertise is the civil role and power of the news. Her research examines three particular aspects of this: the architecture and culture of the news; the mediation of civil society and social identity by the news; and issues of news freedom and standards. She has written extensively in these areas.

Other research projects include:

  • monitoring media violations and freedom for the Media Subcommittee, Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE)
  • Media Freedom in Europe, for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Public Service Broadcasting in the EU for the Soros Foundation
  • the use of user-generated content at the BBC, for the British Academy
  • six funded research projects for the UK television industry.

Further information

The civil power of the news

Jackie approaches the civil power of the news through three specific interrelated lines of inquiry, as follows.

The architecture and culture of news

Here Jackie looks at the difference between the ideal and normative structures of news and its quotidian constituent features, the different cultures of production and ultimately how the news deals with issues of truth and truthfulness, particularly the issues of accuracy and sincerity, the use and reproduction of spatial and symbolic stories, imaginative geographies and histories and the problem of trust.

The mediation of civil and social identity

Here Jackie examines the ability of news to influence civil discourse. That is to promote different and intelligible versions of the civil and the un-civil, the social and the anti-social via its formal and informal ability to influence our dispositions, attitudes, emotions and desires and, through this our understanding of civil boundaries, inclusion and exclusion.

Jackie also looks at the institutions of news, the different models of public service communication (PSC) which mediate public services for both civil (democratic) and social (welfare) purposes.

Issues of freedom, regulation and standards

Here Jackie focuses on different legal and policy regimes, self-regulation and codes of conduct and the concomitant risks of direct (and indirect) censorship; the failures and abuses of news media freedom and declining news standards across the world; the difference between journalism and partisan journalism, investigative news journalism and attack journalism; agenda-setting and modern forms of spin and news manipulation; the blurring of the distinctions between factual reporting and unsubstantiated opinion; the use of user-generated content and the wider use of interactivity between news media and audience or readers and more recently the significance of post integrated news journalism.

Centre for Freedom of the Media

Jackie chairs the interdisciplinary research body Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield. CFOM studies issues of media freedom and standards.

It is a unique university-based body which will for the first time brings together journalists, experts and scholars of the media, with public figures and the newsmakers themselves to research and evaluate the role of free and independent news media in building and maintaining political and civil freedom and maintaining the highest standards of news reporting around the world.

The founding principle of CFOM is to illuminate where news media freedom is undermined or abused and to examine news media standards of independence and truthfulness through the study of:

  • the contested nature of the terms 'media freedom' and 'freedom of expression'
  • areas of global conceptual commonality with regard to media freedom, standards and governance
  • the behaviour of governments
  • the effects of laws and regulation/deregulation
  • the new media landscape opened up by fast-changing and new technologies
  • the effects of increasing commercialisation of the media sector on news media
  • the effectiveness of the media as civil journalism
  • the links between media freedom and other parts of civil society and democracy


Edited books

  • (Ed.) (2012) Freedom of Expression and the Media: the application of legal standards to journalistic practice. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison JL & Wessels B (Ed.) (2009) Mediating Europe: Mass media in contemporary European culture. New York: Berghahn. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J & Wessels B (Ed.) (2009) Mediating Europe: New media, mass communications and the European public sphere. Berghahn Books. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Harcup T (2022) Suppressing the news In Harrison J & McKernan L (Ed.), Breaking The News: 500 years of news in Britain (pp. 89-98). London: British Library. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J & Pukallus S (2021) Creating capacity for peace: The power of news and civil norm building, Insights on Peace and Conflict Reporting (pp. 139-151). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Pukallus S & Harrison J (2015) If media freedom and media pluralism are fundamental values in the European Union why doesn't the European Union do anything to ensure their application?, Comparative Perspectives on the Fundamental Freedom of Expression (pp. 368-387). View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J (2013) European social purpose and public service communication, Mapping the European Public Sphere: Institutions, Media and Civil Society (pp. 99-113). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison JL (2011) Gatekeeping and News Selection as Symbolic Mediation In Allan S (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism (pp. 191-201). London: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J (2010) The development of a European Civil Society through EU public service communication In Papathanassopoulos, S & Negrine, R (Ed.), Communications Policy: Theories and Issues (pp. 81-96). Palgrave Macmillan RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison JL (2010) European Social Purpose and Public Service Communication In Cristiano Bee EB & Bozzini E (Ed.), Mapping the European Public Sphere: institutions, media and civil society (pp. 99-116). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J (2009) Introduction: Mediating Europe and the public sphere In Harrison J & Wessels B (Ed.), Mediating Europe: New Media, Mass Communications, and the European Public Sphere (pp. 1-24). Berghahn Books RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J (2008) Exploring news values: The ideal and the real In Chapman J & Kinsey M (Ed.), Broadcast Journalism: A Critical Introduction (pp. 247-256). London: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J (2008) News In Franklin B (Ed.), Pulling Newspapers Apart (pp. 39-47). London: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J (2008) News Media In Albertazzi D & Cobley P (Ed.), The Media Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Harrison J, Sanders K, Holtz-Bacha C, Díaz RR, Görpe S, Ghanem S & Ugochukwu C (2007) Women and the news: Europe, Egypt and the Middle East, and Africa, Women, Men and News: Divided and Disconnected in the News Media Landscape (pp. 193-232). RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

Teaching activities

Jackie teaches mainly about the nature of news and its importance in contemporary societies. This is based on her research interests which focus on competing views about news media freedom and standards worldwide. Specifically, she encourages students to think critically about the role of news in society, the diverse way news gathering is undertaken, combined with considerations of how it should be undertaken and the problems facing news organisations because of new forms of governmental, technological and commercial pressures in the 21st century.

Emphasising the importance of thinking about these things from an interdisciplinary perspective, Jackie enthuses students about the diverse, changing and challenging subject matter under discussion to help them to develop and refine an intellectual skill set of the kind required by modern news journalism. Her teaching seeks both to help a transition into the job market by providing students with a competitive edge when seeking employment and also to open up the possibilities of further academic study.

Jackie teaches using lectures, participatory seminars and workshop-based sessions focusing on specific issues and sometimes via external speakers. Currently her teaching is on the module JNL6029 Communicating with the Media.

PhD supervision

Jackie is currently supervising (together with Dr Stef Pukallus and Dr Simon Rushton) two White Rose DTP/ESRC collaborative PhD studentships:

  • Jean-Claude Kayumba: The role of radio in post-conflict society: the example of Radio Okapi in DR Congo and its coverage of the first democratic elections of the country (2006, 2011 and 2018) 
  • Victoria Baskett: Community Radio Soap Opera as a Peacebuilding tool: Atunda Ayenda and the rebuilding civil society through democractic elections in Sierra Leone 

Jackie's present commitments mean she is unable to supervise more PhD students until further notice.

PhD study in journalism, media and communication