I was appointed as Research Professor in Journalism in the School of Humanities and Journalism in September 2020. Before that, I was Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Political Communication at the University of Sheffield. My role at Derby is mainly concerned with research, both supporting research within the School and wider University and maintaining my own research areas and interests.
Broadly, my research centres around the intersection of politics, media and democratic engagement, with a particular current focus on journalism ethics. My work has been published widely and I have won over £685k in competitive grant funding. I am currently the Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded 'Defining Freedom of the Press' research project.
I currently teach on the MRes in Social Science and Humanities and the MA in Journalism.
My work spans political communication, media history and journalism studies. I am particularly interested in exploring historical and contemporary debates concerning democratic rights and their praxis, specifically those contestations around media freedom, free speech and censorship.
In addition to my current work on journalism ethics, I have recently published on topics including Advocacy Journalism, Digital Media and Journalism Education, Class and the Regional Press, and Letters to the Editor.
I am also currently working on a monograph for Routledge entitled British Radicalism and Free Speech and a co-edited volume with Professor Julian Petley entitled The Routledge Companion to Freedom of Expression and Censorship.
I hold editorial board membership of the journals Media History; Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies; and Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics. I am 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.
I also regularly review book proposals for leading publishers including Routledge Taylor and Francis; Palgrave; Sage; and Zed Books.
My research interests span journalism studies, political communication and media history. I am the Principal investigator in the AHRC-funded project Defining Freedom of the Press which examines press ethics and regulation in Europe and the UK.
I am also currently working on two separate book projects on freedom of expression. The first examines the relationship between freedom of expression and British radicalism since the 17th century, the second is a comprehensive exploration of contemporary scholarship on freedom of expression and censorship (with Julian Petley, Brunel).
I am also happy to supervise prospective PhD candidates in the following areas:
Free speech, censorship and press freedom
Political participation, democratic theory and praxis
Political, ethical and regulatory implications of digital media
Transformations within political communication
Membership of professional bodies
International Communication Association
Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association
Institute of Communication Ethics
BA. Hons. Politics, PhD
‘Defining freedom of the press in the 21 century: Interdisciplinary approaches and comparative perspectives’. Journalism 2020 conference, Vienna. Paper accepted
‘Defining freedom of the press in the 21 century: Interdisciplinary approaches and comparative perspectives,’ International Communication Association Conference, Brisbane Australia, May 2020 (remote)
‘Stakeholder Workshops as a Method for Developing a Grounded Media Ethics’, MECCSA Conference, University of Brighton, January 2020
‘Journalists’ perception of press freedom in practice: Perspectives from the front-line’, Political Studies Association, Media and Politics Specialist Group Conference, University of Leeds, December 2019.
Defining ‘Freedom of the Press’: A Cross-National Analysis of Press Council Codes of Ethics. Future of Journalism Conference, University of Cardiff, September 2019
‘Defining freedom of the press: Understanding the approaches to freedom of the press in five European countries’, Special Panel on Human Dignity Beyond Boundaries: Revisiting Global Journalism Ethics, IAMCR Conference, Madrid, Spain, July 2019
‘Non-elite voices and media regulation’, Norms for the new public sphere, AHRC funded workshop, Somerset House, London (invited) April 2019
‘Defining freedom of the press: a cross-national examination of press ethics and regulation in 13 European countries’, PSA Media and Politics Specialist Group, University of Nottingham, November 2018
Experience in industry
I have been, and continue to be involved in wider community industry and engagement with links to a range of external partners including Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS), Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO); National Union of Journalists (NUJ); Ethical Journalism Network (EJN); European Federation of Journalists; Amnesty International; IPPR; Article 19; Index on Censorship; Tell MAMA; Trans Media Watch; Cancer Research UK; London Chamber of Commerce; Policy Exchange; Migrant Voice; Project Censored as well as having established contacts within Westminster and Whitehall.
In addition to conducting and directing research activities overseas, I have worked on a wide range of international projects and collaborations including book and writing projects, funding bids and research proposals, international panel convening and conference presentations.
Additional interests and activities
Walking, cycling, climbing, swimming and music (not all at the same time!).
Firmstone, J, Steel, J, Conboy, M. Elliott-Harvey, C. Fox, C, Mulderrig, J, Saunders, J, Wragg, P. (2022) "Trust and ethics in local journalism: a distinctive orientation towards responsible journalism and ethical practices" in J. Lynch and C. Rice (eds.) Responsible Journalism in Conflicted Societies: Trust and Public Service across New and Old Divides, London, Routledge.
Steel, J. (2018) ““Making Voices Heard…”: Index on Censorship as Advocacy Journalism”, Journalism, Theory, Practice and Criticism, DOI: 10.1177/1464884918760866
Steel, J. (2018a) “Towards a Praxis-Based Media and Journalism Research”, European Journal of Communication, DOI: 10.1177/0267323118775778
Steel, J. (2018b) “‘Disruption’ in UK Journalism Education? A study of meta-narratives of resilience”, in Journal of Applied Journalism and Media Studies, 3(7)
Eldridge II, S. & Steel, J. (2016) “Normative Expectations: Employing ‘communities of practice’ models for assessing journalism’s normative claims”, Journalism Studies, 17(7), pp. 817-826 DOI:10.1080/1461670X.2016.1154795.
Conboy, M. & Steel, J. (2008) “The Future of Newspapers: Historical Perspectives”, Journalism Studies, 9(5) pp. 650-661 DOI:10.1080/14616700802207540
Steel, J. (2008) “Press Censorship in Britain: Blurring the Boundaries of Censorship”, Journal for the Study of British Cultures, Special Edition, 15(1) pp. 159-170
Steel, J. et al (2007) “Experiential learning and journalism education: Lessons learned in the practice of teaching journalism”, Education and Training, 49(4) pp. 325-334 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00400910710754462
Steel, J. et al (2006) “Orchestrating Independence in an International Online Learning Community”, British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(5) pp. 733-748 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00552
Steel, J. et al (2003) “The Emperor’s New Clothes: Globalisation and e-learning”, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 24(1) pp. 39-53 DOI:10.1080/01425690301914
Steel, J. & Hudson, A. (2001) “Educational Technology and Learning and Teaching: The Experiences and Perceptions of Teaching Staff”, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 38(2) pp. 101-111DOI:10.1080/13558000010030158
Steel, J. (2020) “Negotiating Working-Class Identities in the Regional Press in the Twentieth Century”, in A. Bingham and M. Conboy (eds.) Newspapers and Periodicals in Britain and Ireland – 1650-2011, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 131-154
Steel, J. & Eldridge, S. (2018) “Normative Expectations: Employing ‘communities of practice’ models for assessing journalism’s normative claims”, in S. Allen, C. Carter, S. Cushion, L. Dencik, I. Garcia-Blanco, J. Harris, R. Sambrook, K. Wahl-Jorgensen and A. Williams (eds.) The Future of Journalism: Risks, Threats and Opportunities, Abingdon: Routldege, pp. 817-826
Steel, J. (2017) “Liberal’ Reform and Normativity in Media Analysis”, in J. Petley (ed.) Liberalism in Neo-liberal Times, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 105-110
Steel, J. (2016) ‘Reappraising Journalism’s Normative Foundations’, in M. Broersma & C. Peters & M. Broersma (eds.) Rethinking Journalism Again. Societal role and public relevance in a digital age, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 35-48
Steel, J. (2014) ‘This Sporting “Lifeworld”: Class, Identity and the Public Sphere’, in M. Conboy & J. Steel (eds.) Routledge Companion to British Media History, London: Routledge pp. 147-159
Conboy, M & Steel, J. (2014) Introduction in M. Conboy & J. Steel (eds.) Routledge Companion to British Media History, London: Routledge pp. 1-5
Steel, J. (2013) ‘Press Censorship in Britain: Rethinking Press Control’ in T. Yasuhiko (ed.), Freedom of Speech and Media, Tokyo: Nihon Hyoron Publishing (Japanese)
Conboy, M. & Steel, J. (2012) ‘From “We” to “Me”: The Changing Construction of Popular Tabloid Journalism’, in B. Franklin (ed.) The Future of Journalism, London: Routledge, pp. 59-61
Steel, J (2009) ‘The Idea of Journalism’, in W. Eadie (ed.) 21st Century Communication, Sage
Conboy, M. and Steel, J. (2008) ‘The Future of Newspapers: Historical Perspectives’ in B. Franklin (Ed.) The Future of Newspapers. Routledge: Abingdon. pp. 21-33
Steel, J. (2004) ‘Ideas and Interests: The Struggle for Democracy and Free Speech During the Nineteenth Century’, in M. Todd & G. Taylor (eds.) Democracy and Protest, London: Merlin Press, pp. 96-114
Steel, J. et al (2002) ‘New Environments: The Environment for Learning’, in E. Royston, (ed.) Centred on Learning: Academic Case Studies in Learning Centre Developments, London: Gower
Steel, J. (2000) ‘Critical Reflections: Political Philosophy and Web Technology’, in R. A. Cole (ed.) Issues in Web-based Pedagogy, Westport CT: Greenwood Press
Steel, J. (2000) ‘Educational Technology in an Internationalised Context’, in B. Hudson, and M. J. Todd, (eds.) Internationalizing the Curriculum in Higher Education - Reflecting on Practice, Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University Press