John SteelDr John Steel

Senior Lecturer in Journalism Studies

Tel: (+44) (0)114 222 2545
Twitter: @jnlfreespeech

Room 232

BA, PhD (Sheffield)

After spending a number of years in the print industry as a graphic designer and originator, John decided to study for a degree in politics at the University of Sheffield. Following his undergraduate degree John went on to study for a PhD in political theory. His PhD focused on freedom of speech and its ideological components in early to mid-nineteenth century radical newspapers and pamphlets.

While completing this research, he took up a research post at Sheffield Hallam University focusing on the use of internet technologies in higher education. Following stints teaching politics at both Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield, John was appointed as lecturer in Journalism Studies in February 2005.

Teaching and research

John Steel's teaching is led by his research interests, which centre around the following topics: the relationship between journalism and democracy; historical and theoretical approaches to journalism and the media; free speech, censorship and freedom of the press; journalism and the coverage of war and conflict, journalism and its role perceptions, and journalism education.

He is principal investigator on Defining Freedom of the Press, a major collaborative AHRC-funded project launched in June 2018. This compares media regulation across ten European countries, with impact potential across a wide range of stakeholders and the general public.

John also teaches on the following modules:


In this short video John discusses the role of journalism in democracy – and holding politicians to account.


PhD supervision

John is interested in work that enmeshes debates within political theory and the history of ideas with journalism studies. He is particularly interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • history and theories of free speech, censorship and press freedom
  • normative foundations of journalism
  • privacy norms and communication ethics
  • journalism and conceptions of political engagement.