Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Dr Julie Firmstone

Associate Professor in Media and Communication; Postgraduate Research Tutor

0113 343 5874

Clothworkers' Building North, 1.01

BA (Leeds), PhD (Leeds)

Research Interests

My research addresses a range of issues in the fields of the sociology of news and political communication. I analyse news, journalism and political communication with a focus on local democracy, the communication of European politics, and newspapers’ editorial opinions. My most recent projects and publications are focussed on three areas: 1) changes in the local news media and the role of local journalism in engaging citizens in local democracy; 2) how the communication of the politics of the EU is shaped by journalistic practices, the performances of politicians, and representations of the public in television news; 3) defining the genre of editorial journalism and analysing the editorial opinions of the British press during the EU referendum and General Election 2017.

I am Co-Investigator on an AHRC funded project “Defining Freedom of the Press: A Cross national examination of press ethics and regulation in ten European countries” starting in June 2018. I will be a Visiting Fellow in Autumn 2018 at NODE (The Ander Centre for Research on News and Opinion in the Digital Era), Department of Geography, Media and Communication, Karlstad University, Sweden.

Previously I have researched and written about political and editorial journalism, the European public sphere, civil society and the EU’s democratic deficit, and representations of minorities in the news. I explored these themes in several research projects (see below) 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!), the audience’s attitude towards violence on television, and have written a book about audience perceptions of media violence.

As convener of the School’s Journalism Research Group I welcome enquiries about the group’s activities and about becoming a member.


I am currently on research leave.




  • Ekström M; Firmstone J (eds.) (2017) The Mediated Politics of Europe A Comparative Study of Discourse. Palgrave Macmillan. (Submitted)

  • Coleman S, Thumim N, Birchall C, Firmstone, Moss G, Parry K, Stamper J, Blumler JG (2016) The Mediated City: The News in a Post-Industrial Context. London: Zed.

  • Firmstone J (2002) Discerning Eyes: Viewers On Violence. University of Luton Press.

  • Morrison DE, Macgregor BD, Svennevig M, Firmstone J (1999) Defining Violence: The Search for Understanding. University of Luton Press.

Journal articles

  • Firmstone J (2016) “Mapping Changes in Local News”, Journalism Practice. 10.7: 928-938.
    DOI: 10.1080/17512786.2016.1165136, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/96293/

  • Firmstone JA, Coleman S (2015) “Public engagement in local government: the voice and influence of citizens in online communicative spaces”, Information, Communication and Society. 18.6: 680-695.
    DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2014.986180, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/85845/

  • Coleman S, Firmstone JA (2014) “Contested meanings of public engagement: exploring discourse and practice within a British city council”, Media, Culture and Society. 36.6: 826-844.
    DOI: 10.1177/0163443714536074, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/85846/

  • Firmstone JA, Coleman S (2014) “The changing role of the local news media in enabling citizens to engage in local democracies”, Journalism Practice. Special Issue: Future of Journalism: In an age of digital media and economic uncertainty. 8.5: 596-606.
    DOI: 10.1080/17512786.2014.895516, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79227/

  • Firmstone J (2008) “The editorial production process and editorial values as influences on the opinions of the British press towards Europe”, Journalism Practice. 2.2

  • Firmstone J (2008) “Approaches of the transnational press to reporting Europe”, Journalism: theory, practice and criticism. 9.4: 423-442.

  • Svennevig M, Firmstone J (2000) “Putting the New into Context: A Backwards Look at New Information Technologies”, International Journal of Advertising. 19.5: 581-597.

  • Morrison DE, Firmstone J (2000) “The Social Function of Trust and Implications for E-commerce”, International Journal of Advertising. : 599-623.


  • Ekström M, Firmstone J (2017) “Conclusion: Tensions and disruptions in mediated politics”, In: The Mediated Politics of Europe: A Comparative Study of Discourse. 319-338
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-56629-0_12

  • Coleman S, Firmstone J (2017) “The performances of mainstream politicians: Politics as usual?”, In: The Mediated Politics of Europe: A Comparative Study of Discourse. 259-287
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-56629-0_10

  • Firmstone J, Corner J (2017) “Reporting the ‘public’-discourses of interpretation, evaluation and prediction”, In: The Mediated Politics of Europe: A Comparative Study of Discourse. 175-199
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-56629-0_7

  • Ekström M, Firmstone J (2017) “Introduction: A discourse analytical approach to researching mediated political communication”, In: The Mediated Politics of Europe: A Comparative Study of Discourse. 3-35
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-56629-0_1

  • Firmstone JA, Coleman S (2015) “Rethinking local communicative spaces: reflecting on the implications of digital media and citizen journalism for the role of local journalism in engaging citizens”, In: Kleis Nielsen R (eds.) Local Journalism: The decline of newspapers and the rise of digital media. I.B.Tauris.

  • Statham P, Koopmans R, Treskh A, Firmstone J (2010) “Political Party Contestation Emerging Euroscepticism or a Normalization of Eurocriticism?”, In: Koopmans R; Statham P (eds.) The Making of a European Public Sphere. Cambridge Univ Pr. 245-277

  • Firmstone J (2009) “Influences on the editorial opinions of the British press towards the EU”, In: Charles A (eds.) Media in the Enlarged Europe: Politics, Policy and Industry. Intellect. 145-159

  • Morrison DE, Svennevig M, Firmstone J (1999) “The Social Consequences of Communications Technologies in the United Kingdom”, In: Boyce R (eds.) The Communications Revolution at Work: The Social, Economic and Political Impacts of Technological Change. 1. McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, Canada. 57-82

  • Svennevig M, Brown RCM, Houltham M, Towler R, Firmstone J (1999) “Researching the Process of Change”, In: Byfield S (eds.) Better Research for Better Media Decisions. ESOMAR Monograph Series. European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research, Amsterdam. 19-35


  • EU FRA (2009) Minorities in selected newspapers of six EU Member States.

  • Firmstone J (2008) Mediating the economic, cultural and socio-political interests of citizens in the EU: a research report.

  • Firmstone J, Statham P (2007) Mediated debates about the EU and ratification of the European Constitution in the British Public Sphere. EurPolCom.

  • Firmstone J (2003) “'Britain in the euro?' British newspaper editorial coverage of the introduction of the euro”, In: European Political Communication Working Paper Series. Leeds, UK: EurPolCom. Center for Politics and Communication.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93064/


Research Projects & Grants

Co-I, AHRC Standard Grant: Defining Freedom of the Press: A Cross National examination of press ethics and regulation in ten countries. PI Dr John Steel, University of Sheffield. Starts June 2018 for 2 years.

Local news, journalism and democracy: towards a new research agenda (2014 – May 2015). Exploratory research funded by two CCI grants (Creative and Cultural Industries Exchange, University of Leeds).

Public engagement in local politics (2012- 2013). Pilot project funded by EPSRC Digital Economy Communities and Culture Network – collaborating with Professor Stephen Coleman.

Adviser on ‘Women in decision making: The role of the new media for increased Political Participation’ Report to the European Commission, DG for Internal Affairs, Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs (2013).

EU FRA: “Representation of Minorities in the European Press” (2007-2008). I was co-applicant and acting PI on this study with Dr Myria Georigiou (PI) and Professor Charles Husband. The project analysed media representations of migrants, minorities and diversity issues in the British press through a content analysis study of British newspapers funded by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. See report.

ESRC/ESF RES-000-23-0886: ‘The Impact of EU “Constitutionalisation” on Public Claims-Making over Europe’ (2005-2008). As co-applicant I explored the role of civil society organisations in mediating the preferences of citizens to the EU, and examined public claims making in the news media over issues related to the future of Europe (PI: Professor Paul Statham).

EU FW5 funded project Europub.com – The Transformation of Political Mobilisation and Communication in European Public Spheres, (2001-2004). As a researcher on this project I investigated the role of the media in the communication of European politics, the representation of European news and opinion in the media, and political journalism (PI for UK case Professor Paul Statham).  See the Europub website for publications and the book “The Making of a European Public Sphere” (Koopmans and Statham: 2011).

From 1996 – 1999 I was a research assistant on a variety of audience research projects for broadcasting regulators and commercial sponsors carried out under the direction of Professor David Morrison at the Institute of Communications Studies: ‘Definitions of Violence’ study commissioned by the ITC, BSC, ITVA, Carlton, Channel 4, Channel 5, & BSkyB; ‘Regulating For Changing Values’ this project evaluated the opinions of the public in key areas of morality, particularly the invasion of privacy for the Broadcasting Standards Commission; ‘Futura.com’ a three year longitudinal study charting the social impact and progress of technology in society.


Research Centres & Groups

I am a founding member and current convenor of the School’s Journalism Research Group (JRG). I also belong to the Political Communication Research Group (PCRG).

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

I am currently supervising the following PhD students:

Paul Stringer: Making news at net-natives: Reassessing the occupational ideology of journalism in the digital age.

Nely Konstantinova: The role played by digital media in the struggle for visibility, recognition, and legitimacy of contemporary protest cultures in Bulgaria.

Alessandro Martinisi: Quality statistics in news reporting – exploring the use of statistics by journalists in the articulation of news and explore what “quality” means in the wider sense of journalism practice and statistical analysis.

Martha Palacios Dominguez: Digital native news organizations in the Mexican news ecosystem

I welcome the opportunity to supervise PhD research in the areas of political communication, news and journalism.

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