Professor Jackie Harrison
Head of department
Professor of Public Communication
UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity
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