Gemma Horton

Gemma HortonGemma started her PhD studies in the Department of Journalism Studies in September 2016. Prior to that, she graduated with a bachelor of laws degree from the University of York in 2015 before completing an MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield. She has previously completed work experience at various celebrity magazine titles and this experience has influenced her PhD thesis.

As of September 2019, Gemma will be appointed as a University Teacher in Media and Human Rights/Conflict in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool.


PhD title

Privacy versus freedom of speech: the treatment of celebrities in Europe and the United States of America


Primary supervisor: Dr Irini Katsirea

Secondary supervisor: Mark Hanna

Research project

Gemma's PhD focuses on celebrities' right to privacy. It sets out to explore how celebrities' privacy rights are protected through the law and codes and conducts. She is comparing the law of the United Kingdom to the law of the United States and France. She aims to examine if law and case law are being consistently applied throughout these jurisdictions by examining recent case studies and conducting interviews with industry and legal experts.

As of 2017, Gemma has been a teaching assistant on the JNL6210 Research Methods module. Gemma is also a teaching assistant on the JNL6027 Journalism, Globalisation and Development module alongside the JNL114 Ethical Issues in Journalism module, JNL6014 Ethics and Regulation, JNL120 Essential Journalism and JNL6075 Media Freedom: European, UK and US Perspectives.

Gemma also co-organised the 1st Communication, Media and Journalism Research Group PGR/ECR Conference with colleague Jake Mason. The conference involved receiving and processing abstract proposals, designing conference programmes and organising for a keynote speaker to attend.

Gemma has also acted as a research assistant on projects for the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM), including: ‘Examining the Impact of IPSO on Editorial Standards and Complaints’ Handling for the press regulator in the UK’ and ‘Building an African media network with the African Media Initiative.’ While working as a research assistant, she has conducted interviews, engaged in quantitative and qualitative research, and analysed newspaper articles.


Public Figures and Private Lives: How does UK law protect public figures’ private lives? Inaugural International Persona Studies Conference, Newcastle, UK

The Right to Privacy of Celebrities, The University of Sheffield Student Research Festival, Sheffield, UK

Rethinking the reasonable expectation of privacy test in celebrity cases: a European perspective, 1st Communication, Media and Journalism Research Group PGR/ECR Conference, Sheffield, UK

The right to privacy of celebrities versus the right to freedom of press in the United Kingdom: Who comes out on top?
Durham Annual Postgraduate Law Conference Theme: ‘Rights in the Modern World’, Durham, UK

An unwanted spotlight: Examining the right to privacy of celebrities against the right to freedom of expression in the United Kingdom.
Desecrating Celebrity, Fourth International Celebrity Studies Conference, Rome, Italy

'Comparing and contrasting how privacy laws in the United States of America and France protect political figures’ right to privacy when embroiled in scandal'
2018 2nd International Conference on Scandalogy, Bamberg, Germany

'Exploring the lack of protection fake news offers celebrities in the United States'
2017 Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland Conference, Newcastle, UK

'Is celebrity gossip really news? Examining case law from the United Kingdom and exploring the public interest in celebrities' private lives'
Third Biennial Conference of the Brussels Institute for Journalism Studies (BIJU): What's (the) News? Values, Viruses and Vectors of Newsworthiness, Brussels, Belgium


Book Review: Information Politics, Information Communication and Society 21(12)

Book Review: Delivering the People's Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate, Information, Communication and Society