John SteelDr John Steel

Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Political Communication

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


Research, impact and external standing

Since completing his PhD in 2001, John has produced more than 30 publications with leading international publishers and in major peer-reviewed journals. Broadly, John's work spans political communication, media history and journalism studies. He is particularly interested in exploring historical and contemporary debates concerning democratic rights and their praxis, specifically those contestations around 'media freedom', 'free speech' and frameworks of 'censorship'. Recent work has involved an exploration and critical re-evaluation of some of the key normative democratic components of media criticism.

Recent publications include ‘'Making voices heard…': Index (on Censorship) as Advocacy Journalism’ (2018) which examines the development of the magazine Index on Censorship as a form of advocacy journalism; ‘'Disruption' in UK Journalism Education? A study of meta-narratives of resilience’ (2018) which examines journalism’s responses to digital transformations in news media.

John is currently working on a monograph for Routledge entitled British Radicalism and Free Speech which provides a critical examination of how radical progressive movements in Britain have engaged with debates concerning freedom of speech and expression from the 17th century to the present day. He is also about to publish a volume on ‘Letters to the Editor’ which has been co-edited with Dr Allison Cavanagh at the University of Leeds and will be published by Palgrave.

John has received over £640,000 in grants and awards as principal investigator and co-investigator. In November 2017 he was awarded a major research grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers investigating press ethics and regulation from the perspective of legacy media, digital innovators and third sector activists. The project commenced in June 2018 and draws together colleagues from the University of Sheffield, the University of Leeds and the University of Durham.

John regularly attends and presents at major national and international conferences including the International Communication Association, International Association of Media and Communication Research, Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group and the Future of Journalism conference. John has been involved in wider community industry and engagement, with extant links to a range of external partners including Article 19; Index on Censorship; Amnesty International; IPPR; Cancer Research UK; London Chamber of Commerce; Policy Exchange; Migrant Voice; and Project Censored, as well as having established contacts within Westminster and Whitehall.

John holds editorial board membership of the journals Media History; Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies; and Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics. He is a regular reviewer for leading media and communication journals including the European Journal of Communication; International Journal of Press Politics; Journalism Studies; Digital Journalism; Journalism Practice; Media History; Journal of Media and Communication Studies; Journal of Applied Media Studies; Historical Research; Digital Journalism; Cambridge Journal of Education; International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics.

He also regularly reviews book proposals for leading publishers including Routledge Taylor and Francis; Palgrave; Sage; and Zed Books. In 2015 he was invited by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa to review the research output and assess the standing of a leading scholar in his area. In its documentation, the NRF states that "reviews are conducted by national and international subject experts of high academic and professional credibility and who are recognised internationally for their research contributions".