Dr Sara Torsner
Department of Journalism Studies
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Full contact details
Department of Journalism Studies
9 Mappin Street
Dr Sara Torsner is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Department’s Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) where she works with Professor Jackie Harrison in her role as UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity. Sara is also the coordinator of the Journalism Safety Research Network which is hosted by CFOM.
Sara joined the department in September 2015 as a PhD student and completed her PhD, on understanding risks to journalism as a form of civil diminishment of collective democratic life, in 2019. Sara’s PhD project was a White Rose DTP/ESRC Collaborative PhD studentship involving the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM).
Before joining the department Sara worked as a freelancing journalist for Swedish news outlets and has worked with journalist and press freedom organisations. Sara holds a BA and MA in political science from Uppsala University and has studied politics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
- Research interests
Sara’s research focuses on understanding risk to journalism via restrictions and attacks on the communicative capacity of journalism and the consequences of such constraints for collective associative civil life.
Sara’s current research builds on her doctoral dissertation entitled 'Profiling the Civil Diminishment of Journalism: A conceptual framework for understanding the causes and manifestations of risk to journalism'. Through this research Sara developed a holistic sociological approach, or risk profile, for mapping risk to journalism as a complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon in various societal settings. The risk profile facilitates an understanding of aggressions against journalism as a form of civil diminishment which renders civil society fragile when it comes to its capacity to enable inclusion, mutual respect, and a sense of common meaning among members of society.
Sara is currently working together with Professor Jackie Harrison on a book on the relationship between the civil diminishment and the civil resistance of news journalism. This book draws upon Sara’s doctoral work and Jackie’s book The Civil Power of the News. The research explores the conditions of civil diminishment of news journalism as occurring through various forms of anti-civil power that distort the civil role of news journalism and the capacity of news journalism to 'fight back' against and resist such anti-civil forces of diminishment.
Other areas of research
Global UNESCO study on the Online Harassment of Female Journalists
Research project on monitoring violations against journalists in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.10.1
Sara is co-investigator on an interdisciplinary research project that aims to strengthen current monitoring of violations against journalists in line with SDG 16.10.1. The project combines expertise from the Department of Journalism Studies and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield alongside experts in the field of human rights monitoring and civil society organisations that monitor violations against journalists in national contexts. The overall aim of the project is to develop tools that will facilitate the comprehensive analysis of shifting safety trends and contribute towards the building of a comprehensive evidence base to improve understanding of how and why violations against journalists occur.
Research on media and information literacy and the safety for journalists
Sara is part of a collaborative research project which looks at the connection between media literacy and the safety for journalists. The research is being undertaken with Silvia Chocarro from Article 19, Albana Shala from Free Press Unlimited under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity.
- Strengthening the monitoring of violations against journalists through an events-based methodology. Media and Communication, 8(1), 89-100. View this article in WRRO
- The closing of the net. Information, Communication & Society, 21(12), 1855-1857.
- Understanding journalistic institutional precarity: A macro approach to risk and the civil diminishment of journalism. International Journal of Communication.
- Teaching activities
Sara teaches on the MA Global Journalism degree. She is currently doing MA dissertation supervision and teaches on the module Digital Journalism for a Global Society.
Sara has previously taught on these modules:
The Principle of Publicity I & II
Media, Publics and Politics
Global Communication – History, Theory and Practice
The Victimisation of the Media
The Weaponisation of the Media
Dealing with Data: Statistics for Journalists
Data and Communication
Radio, NGOs and Conflict-Affected Areas