Professor Julie Firmstone

Professor Julie Firmstone


My research addresses a range of issues in the fields of the sociology of news and political communication. My projects empirically analyse news, journalism practices and political communication using a range of quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the UK case in depth and in a cross nationally comparative context. I am interested in the intersection between journalism, the news media, politics, and democratic engagement.

My most recent projects and publications include the following:

  • The Shaping of News: A Framework for Analysis - my new book provides readers with the understanding required to analyse the range of key factors that shape the production of news and to assess their implications for the role of news and journalism in democracy.
  • Changes in the local news media and the role of local journalism in engaging citizens in local democracy.
  • I am Principal Investigator of an ESRC Impact Acceleration grant, Engaging the public in regulating for ethical journalism, which will co-produce a tracking toolkit methodology for consulting and engaging the public in debates about standards of ethics in journalism. 
  • Press ethics and regulation in Europe and the UK. I was Co-Investigator and Lead at Leeds of the AHRC funded project Defining Freedom of the Press.
  • Defining the genre of editorial journalism at newspapers and identifying influences on its practice.
  • Analysing the editorial opinions of the British press towards political issues including the EU (pre-Brexit), the EU referendum  and UK general elections.
  • Evaluating the role of journalistic practices, the performances of politicians, and representations of the public in television news in shaping communication of the politics of the EU .

I have also researched and written about political journalism, the European public sphere, civil society and the EU's democratic deficit, and representations of ethnic minorities in the news. I explored these themes in several funded research projects n the 2000’s and in my PhD (2007) which examined the editorial opinions of British newspapers on the issue of European Integration.

I began my career by contributing to a variety of research projects exploring the audience's uses of new communications technologies (when the internet was just emerging), audiences and regulation, and wrote about audience attitudes towards violence on television in a book 'Discerning Eyes: Viewers on Violence'.

I am a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies (Intellect) and a regular reviewer for Journalism Studies; Journalism Practice; Information, Communication and Society; and the International Journal of Press Politics. In Autumn 2018 I was an invited Visiting Research Fellow at NODE (The Ander Centre for Research on News and Opinion in the Digital Era), Department of Geography, Media and Communication, Karlstad University, Sweden.

I regularly submit evidence to government led inquiries such as the Cairncross Review into the Sustainable Future of Journalism  and the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications and Digital: The Future of Journalism.

As convener of the School's Journalism research group, I welcome enquiries about the group's activities and about becoming a member.


  • School Equality and Inclusion Lead
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD The Editorial Opinions of the British Press on European Intergration
  • BA Communications and Management

Student education

Office hours: Please email me to arrange an appointment.

Research groups and institutes

  • Journalism
  • Political Communication
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>