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Prof. Steven Barnett

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Steven Barnett is Professor of Communications and an established writer and broadcaster who has been involved in policy analysis at the highest levels, both nationally and internationally, for the last 35 years. He has advised government ministers in the UK, has given evidence or served as an adviser on several parliamentary committees, has been called to give evidence to the European Parliament, and has been invited as keynote speaker at numerous national and international conferences.

He specialises in media policy, regulation, the theory and practice of journalism, political communication, and press ethics, and has directed over thirty research projects on the structure, funding, regulation and business of communications in the UK and around the world. His work has frequently been quoted in parliamentary debates and government reports, and he is a regular commentator and writer on media issues. He was a columnist on the Observer newspaper from 2000-2004, writes frequently for the national, online and specialist press and has been quoted by newspapers or interviewed for TV and radio in Australia, the US, Japan, China, South Korea, France, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Denmark and Ireland.

Most recently, he has acted as specialist adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications for its inquiry into Public Service Broadcasting (published November 2019), having held the same position for committee inquiries into Investigative Journalism (published February 2012), the Regulation of TV Advertising (published February 2011), the UK Film and Television Industries (published January 2010), and News and Media Ownership (published June 2008).

He was invited twice to give oral evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, and has been an invited speaker for events organised by the Media Society, Social Market Foundation, Centre Forum, Institute of Economic Affairs, IPPR, Smith Institute, Crown Prosecution Service, Westminster Media Forum, Justice, Open Democracy, BBC Trust, Ofcom, the British Council, Electoral Commission, Frontline Club, Royal Television Society, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2009, he founded the annual Charles Wheeler award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast Journalism. Run in conjunction with the British Journalism Review and hosted by the University, the award is now  established as one of the most prestigious events in the journalism calendar. Winners have included Katya Adler, George Alagiah, Lindsey Hilsum and Jeremy Paxman; speakers have included Sir Tom Stoppard, Katie Adie, Alastair Campbell and Boris Johnson.

His current research interests and active projects include studies on public service media, charitable models for funding journalism, media ownership and regulation, press regulation, and the future of the BBC. He was awarded AHRC grants in 2009-10 and 2014-15 for studies on media power and media ownership, resulting in a number of publications (see below). He has previously completed studies on television news content, public attitudes to privacy and the public interest, and trust in journalism. He also directed two studies on television coverage of international issues for the Third World and Environment Broadcasting Project (3WE): Bringing the World to the UK: Factual international programming on UK public service TV (2005) and The World on the Box: International Issues in News and Factual Programmes on UK Television 1975-2003 (2004).

He has published numerous books, book chapters, and academic articles. Books include Media Power and Plurality (with Judith Townend, eds, Palgrave, 2015), The Rise and Fall of Television Journalism (Bloomsbury, 2011), Westminster Tales: The 21st Century Crisis in British Political Journalism (with Ivor Gaber, Continuum, 2001), and The Battle for the BBC (with Andrew Curry, Aurum Press, 1994). He has also edited or authored books on BBC funding, television and sport, and public service broadcasting. A selection of recent book chapters and articles is given below.

He was a founding member of the British Journalism Review and sits on its editorial and management boards. He has been a member of awards judging panel for Royal Television Society, Amnesty International, International Broadcasting Trust, and Broadcast magazine. He is also on the advisory board of the Public Benefit Journalism Research Centre, and on the board of Hacked Off.

Before joining the University in 1994, he was founder and director of the Henley Centre’s Media Futures research programme (1990-94), Research Fellow and then Assistant Director at the Broadcasting Research Unit (1985-90) and a senior researcher at Consumers Association (1980-85). He graduated from Pembroke College, Cambridge in Social and Political Science followed by an MSc at the London School of Economics.

He has successfully supervised 15 doctoral students to completion, and is interested in supervising PhDs on issues around national and international media policy, media ownership, regulation, public service broadcasting, the BBC, and journalism practice and theory.

Articles by Prof. Steven Barnett