Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Professor Katrin Voltmer

Professor of Communication and Democracy; Acting Director of Postgraduate Studies

0113 343 5829

Clothworkers' Building North, 1.36

Office hours: Outside teaching time please email me to arrange a meeting.

PhD Free University Berlin


1996 Dr. Phil. in Political Science, Free University Berlin, Germany

Research Interests

My research interest revolve around the role of communication in democratic life. Most of my research takes a comparative perspective covering both western and non-western countries. I am particularly interested in the role of the media in processes of transition to democracy. Other research interests focus on the relationship between political actors and journalists and how their interests, norms and communication strategies affect political news coverage. I have also investigated the impact of the media on citizens’ political attitudes and political participation.

Current research activities involve the following areas:

1. The media and political communication in new democracies

Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 the role of the media in transitions from autocratic rule to the consolidation of democratic institutions has fascinated me. A British Academy-funded project on ‘Political Communication in New Democracies’ funded by the British Academy (Ref. No LRG-45511; 2007-2009) explored the changing power balance between governments and the media in eight emerging democracies in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

My book on  ‘The media in transitional democracies’ (2013, Polity Press, see http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745644592) aims develops a conceptual framework for the interplay between the media and the dynamics of democratic transitions around the globe.
The book won the 2017 Book Award of the International Journal of Press/Politics in recognition of its international impact on the field.

2. The Mediatisation of politics

In the book ‘Political Communication in Postmodern Democracy. Challenging the Primay of Politics’ (2011, edited with Kees Brants; see http://www.palgraveconnect.com/pc/doifinder/10.1057/9780230294783) we explained the changing relationship between journalists, politics and citizens as a two-dimensional process: On a horizontal level, mediatisation denotes the shifting power balance between the media and political power, while the vertical dimension captures a process of de-centralisation whereby popular narratives compete with, and undermine elite definitions of politics and society.

2. Media and everyday communication and its impact on citizens’ democratic orientations

In various studies I have investigated the effects of media exposure on political attitudes and political participation. Based on comparative survey data I have studied whether the media are responsible for political alienation and apathy both in the context of established and new democracies. An ESRC-funded research project (Ref No RES-000-22-1257; 2005-2007) on ‘Conflict, Communication and Political Respect’ explored the relationship between media use, interpersonal communication and citizens’ response to partisan conflicts. These issues were further pursued in the project ‘Respect for others and its effects on social relations’, of which I was a co-applicant (ESRC Ref No RES-000-23-1061; principal investigator Mansur Lalljee; 2005-2008).

3. The media and public policy

The question whether the media affect the process and outcomes of the policy process is a relatively new area of my research activities. In May 2007 I organised a five-day workshop on ‘Public Policy and the Mass Media’ held at the annual ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) Joint Session of Workshops. My book ‘Public policy and the mass media: The interplay of mass communication and political decision making’ (ed. with Sigrid Koch-Baumgarten, 2010, Routledge, see http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415485463/) further develops this field of enquiry.


Semester 1: COMM5610 Politics and the Media (with Dr Katy Parry)

Semester 1: COMM1950 Power, Politics and the Media (module leader: Dr Katy Parry)

Semester 2: COMM5630 Communication and Public Opinion


Acting Director of Postgraduate Studies



  • Voltmer K (2014) Comparing Political Communication across Time and Space. New Studies in an Emerging Field.. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Voltmer K (2013) The Media in Transitional Democracies. Contemporary Political Communication. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Brants K; Voltmer K (eds.) (2011) Political Communication in Postmodern Democracy. Challenging the Primay of Politics. Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Koch-Baumgarten S; Voltmer K (eds.) (2010) Public Policy and the Media. The Interplay of Mass Communication and Political Decision Making. Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Voltmer K (eds.) (2006) Mass Media and Political Communication in New Democracies. Routledge.

  • Voltmer K (1999) Medienqualität und Demokratie: Eine empirische Analyse publizistischer Informations- und Orientierungsleistungen in der Wahlkampfkommunikation [Media performance and democracy. The information and orientation function of the mass media]. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Journal articles

  • Vladisavljevic N, Voltmer K (2017) “Media framing of democratisation conflicts in Egypt, Serbia, Kenya and South Africa. Sociologija”, Sociologija. 59.4: 518-537.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/128960/

  • Voltmer K, Wasserman H (2014) “Journalistic norms between universality and domestication: Journalists' interpretations of press freedom in six new democracies”, Global Media and Communication. 10.2: 1-16.
    DOI: 10.1177/1742766514540073

  • Lalljee M, Evans G, Sarawgi S, Voltmer K (2013) “Respect your enemies. Orientations towards political opponents and political involvement in Britain”, International Journal of Public Opinion Research. 25.1: 119-131.

  • Voltmer K, Pfetsch B (2012) “Negotiating control: Political communication cultures in Bulgaria and Poland”, International Journal of Press/Politics. 17(4).Special issue on 'Media and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe': 388-406.

  • Voltmer K, Koch-Baumgarten S (2009) “Policy matters - Medien im politischen Entscheidungsprozess in unterschiedlichen Politikfeldern [Policy matters - media and political decisionmaking in difference policy fields”, Politische Vierteljahresschrift. Special issue on 'Politik in der Mediendemokratie'

  • Voltmer K (2008) “Comparing media systems in new democracies: East meets South meets West”, Central European Journal of Communication. 1.1: 23-40.

  • Eilders C, Voltmer K (2003) “Zwischen Deutschland und Europa. Eine empirische Untersuchung zum Grad der Europäisierung und Europa-Unterstützung der meinungsführenden deutschen Tageszeitungen [Between Germany and Europe. The Europeanization of opinion leading newspapers in Germany]”, Medien und Kommunikationswissenschaft. 50.2: 250-270.

  • Voltmer K (2001) “The Mass Media and Transitions to Democracy: Introduction”, European Political Science. 1.1: 10-13.

  • Voltmer K, Schmitt-Beck R (2001) “Bad news - Cynical Citizens? Political Information and the Emergence of Civic Culture”, European Political Science. 1.1: 20-22.

  • Voltmer K (2001) “European Political Science(Editorship)”, European Political Science. 1.1

  • Voltmer K (2000) “Constructing political reality in Russia - Izvestiya - Between old and new journalistic practices”, EUR J COMMUN. 15.4: 469-500.

  • Voltmer K (1997) “Medien und Parteien im Wahlkampf. Die ideologischen Präferenzen der meinungsführenden Tageszeitungen im Bundestagswahlkampf 1990 [Ideological parallelism between newspapers and political parties in the general election 1990]”, Rundfunk und Fernsehen. 45.2: 173-193.


  • Voltmer K (2016) “Debate: Press freedom and the limitations of the marketplace of ideas”, In: Picard RG (eds.) What Society Needs From Media in the Age of Digital Communication. Porto: mediaXXI. 249-272

  • Voltmer K (2016) “Converging and diverging pathways of media transformation in Central and Eastern Europe”, In: Zielonka J (eds.) Media and Politics in New Democracies: Europe in a Comparative Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 217-230

  • Voltmer K (2015) “Political communication research in Europe”, In: Mazzoleni G (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication. Oxford: Blackwell Wiley.

  • Voltmer K (2014) “Making sense of press freedom: A comparison of journalists' perceptions of press freedom in Eastern Europe and East Asia”, In: Canel MJ; Voltmer K (eds.) Comparing political communication across time and space: New studies in an emerging field. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 175-191

  • Voltmer K, Canel MJ (2014) “Comparing political communication across time and space: Conceptual and methodological challenges in a globalized world”, In: Canel MJ; Voltmer K (eds.) Comparing Political Communication Across Time and Space: New Studies in an Emerging Field. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 1-16

  • Voltmer K (2012) “How far can media systems travel? Applying Hallin & Mancini’s comparative framework outside the Western world.”, In: Hallin D; Mancini P (eds.) Comparing Media Systems Beyond the Western World. Cambridge UP. 224-245

  • Voltmer K, Brants K (2011) “A question of control: Journalists and politicians in political broadcast interviews”, In: Brants K; Voltmer K (eds.) Political Communication in Postmodern Democracy. Challenging the Primacy of Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 126-145

  • Voltmer K, Brants K (2011) “Introduction: Mediatization and De-centralization of Political Communication”, In: Brants K; Voltmer K (eds.) Political Communication in Postmodern Democracy. Challenging the Primacy of Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 1-16

  • Voltmer K, Dobreva A, Pfetsch B (2011) “Trust and mistrust on Yellow Brick Road. Political communication culture in post-communist Bulgaria”, In: Dobek-Ostrowska B; Glowacki M (eds.) Building Democracy in Twenty Years. Worclaw: University of Wroclaw Press. 171-191

  • Voltmer K, Koch-Baumgarten S (2010) “Introduction: Mass media and public policy - is there a link?”, In: Koch-Baumgarten S; Voltmer K (eds.) Public Policy and Mass Media. The Interplay of Mass Communication and Political Decision Making. Abingdon: Routledge. 1-13

  • Voltmer K (2009) “The media, government accountability and citizen engagement”, In: Norris P (eds.) Public Sentinel. New Media and the Governance Agenda. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. 137-159

  • Voltmer K, Rawnsley G (2009) “The media”, In: Inglehart RF; Haerpfer C; P; Bernhagen; Welzel C (eds.) Democratization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 234-248

  • Voltmer K (2008) “"Vierte Gewalt" im Schatten der Vergangenheit. Die Transformation der Massenmedien in neuen Democratien ["Fourth Estate" and the trajectories of the past. The transformation of the mass media in new democracies]”, In: Pfetsch B; Adam S (eds.) Massenmedien als politische Akteure. Konzepte und Analysen. Wiesbaden (Germany): VS Verlag fuer Sozialwissenschaften. 92-115

  • Voltmer K, Lalljee M (2007) “Agree to disagree: respect for political opponents”, In: Park A; Curtice J; Thompson K; Phillips M; Johnson M (eds.) British Social Attitudes The 23rd Report: Perspectives on a changing society. Sage. 95-118

  • Voltmer K (2007) “Massenmedien und politische Entscheidungen: Medienwirkungen jenseits der Mikroperspective [Mass media and political decision making. Media influences beyond the micro perspective]]”, In: Koch-Baumgarten S; Mez L (eds.) Medien und Policy. Neue Machtkonstellationen in ausgewählten Politikfeldern. Peter Lang. 19-38

  • Voltmer K (2007) “Democratization, Role of the media in”, In: Holtz-Bacha C; Kaid LL (eds.) Encyclopedia of Political Communication. London: Sage. 175-179

  • Schmitt-Beck R, Voltmer K (2007) “The mass media in third-wave democracies: Gravediggers or seedsmen of democratic consolidation?”, In: Gunther R; Montero JR; Puhle H-J (eds.) Democracy, Intermediation, and Voting in Four Continents. Oxford Univerisity Press. 75-134

  • Voltmer K (2006) “The mass media and the dynamics of political communication in processes of democratization - an introduction”, In: Voltmer K (eds.) Mass Media and Political Communication in New Democracies. Routledge. 1-20

  • Voltmer K, Stamper J (2006) “Die innenpolitische Sprengkraft von Massenvernichtungswaffen. Zum Verhältnis von Regierung und öffentlichem Rundfunk in Großbritannien [The relationship between government and public service broadcasting in the aftermath of the Hutton Enquiry]”, In: Kamps; Klaus; Nieland J-U (eds.) Regieren und Kommunikation. Halem. 285-304

  • Voltmer K, Schmitt-Beck R (2006) “New democracies without citizens? Mass media and democratic orientations - a four country comparison”, In: Voltmer K (eds.) Mass Media and Political Communication in New Democracies. Routledge. 228-245

  • Voltmer K (2006) “Conclusion: Political communication between democratization and the trajectories of the past”, In: Voltmer K (eds.) Mass Media and Political Communication in New Democracies. Routledge. 246-255

  • Eilders C, Voltmer K (2004) “Zwischen Marginalisierung und Konsens. Europäische Öffentlichkeit in Deutschland”, In: Eilders C; Neidhardt F; Pfetsch B (eds.) Die Stimme der Medien. Pressekommentare und politische Öffentlichkeit in der Bundesrepublik. VS Verlag. 358-385

  • Voltmer K, Eilders C (2003) “The Media Agenda: The Marginalization and Domestication of Europe”, In: Dyson K; Goetz K (eds.) Germany, Europe and the Politics of Constraint. Reprinted from Proceedings of the British Academy 119. Oxford University Press. 173-197

  • Voltmer K (2002) “'Boorstin, The image'; 'Edelman, The symbolic uses of politics'; 'Patterson, The mass media election'”, In: Holtz-Bacha C; Kutsch A (eds.) Schlüsselwerke für die Kommunikationswissenschaft. Westdeutscher Verlag. pp.74-6, 127-9, 343-+

  • Voltmer K (2002) “Medienfreiheit und Medienqualität. Zu den normativen Grundlagen der öffentlichen Kommunikation in der Demokratie”, In: Fuchs D; Roller E; Wessels B (eds.) Bürger und Demokratie in Ost und West: Studien zur politischen Kultur und zum politischen Prozess. Westdeutscher Verlag. 369-390

  • Voltmer K, Roemmele A (2001) “Information and Communication Campaigns: Linking Theory to Practice”, In: Klingemann H-D; Roemmele A (eds.) Public Information Campaigns and Opinion Research. A Handbook for the Student and Practitioner. Sage. 9-20

  • Voltmer K (2000) “Massenmedien und demokratische Transformation in Osteuropa. Strukturen und Dynamik öffentlicher Kommunikation im Prozess des Regimewechsels [Mass media and democratic transitions in Eastern Europe]”, In: Klingemann H-D; Neidhardt F (eds.) Zur Zukunft der Demokratie. Herausforderungen im Zeitalter der Globalisierung. Berlin: Sigma. 123-151

  • Voltmer K, Koch-Baumgarten S “Conclusion: The interplay of mass communication and political decision making - Policy matters!”, In: Koch-Baumgarten S; Voltmer K (eds.) Public Policy and Mass Media. The Interplay of Mass Communication and Political Decision Making. Abingdon: Routledge. 215-227

Research Projects & Grants

‘Media, Conflict and Democratisation’, 2014-2017 (European Union FP7 framework, project number 613370); www.mecodem.eu

‘Political Communication in New Democracies: Government-Media Relationships in Transition’, 2007-2009 (British Academy, LRG-45511).

‘Conflict, Communication and Respect for Political Opponents’, 2005-2007 (ESRC RES-000-22-1257).

‘Respect for Others and Its Effect on Social Relations’, Co-I, 2005-2008 (ESRC RES-000-23-1061)

Research Centres & Groups

Political Communication Research Group

Global Communication Research Group

External Appointments

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)
  • Global Fellow of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
  • Editorial Board member, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford
  • Editorial Board member, International Journal of Press/Politics
  • Editorial Board member, Central European Journal of Communication
  • Associate Editor, Communications – The European Journal of Communication Research
  • Bureau Member and Treasurer, ECREA – European Communication Research and Education Association

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Please note that I am currently unable to take on new doctoral students for supervision.

Current PhD students:

  • Charlotte Elliott – ‘Challenging free speech: a comparative study on perceived hate speech in France and Denmark’
  • Lone Sorensen – ‘How populists communicate: A democratic paradox?

Completed PhDs:

    Antje Glueck – Journalist practice of emotionality: A cross-cultural comparison of India and the United Kingdom

  • Ana Stojiljkovic – ‘Election campaigns and collective identities: the cases of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina’
  • Yanling Yang, 2017: Film as an instrument of China’s soft power: Practice, outcomes and dilemmas (lead supervisor)
  • Salem Erayja, 2017: ICT activism in authoritarian regimes: Organisation, mobilisation and contexts (lead supervisor)
  • Molly Bettie, 2014: The Fulbright Program and American Public Diplomacy (lead supervisor in last year of study)
  • Joo Lee, 2013: Professionalization of Election Campaigning in South Korea (lead supervisor in last year of study)
  • Teke Ngomba, 2012: Political Campaign Communication in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Cameroonian Experience in a Global Perspective ( (external supervisor, with Dr Poul Erik Nielsen, University of Aarhus, Denmark)
  • Ufuoma Akpojivi, 2012: Media Freedom and Media Policy in New Democracies: An Analysis of the Nexus Between Policy Formation and Normative Conceptions in Ghana and Nigeria (co-suypervisor)
  • Agnes Schneeberger, 2011: Communicating Diversity or Unity? The Construction of European Identity in Media and Citizen Discourses on Turkey’s Accession to the EU (lead supervisor)
  • Ioanna Kostarella, 2010: Media Coverage of Foreign Policy Events and Political Conflict: A Longitudinal Analysis of Press-Parliament in the Framework of Greek-Turkish Relations of the Period 1996-1999 (co-supervisor)
  • Alina Dobreva, 2008: Information Processing, Interpersonal Communication and Post-Communist Audiences (the case of Bulgaria) (lead supervisor)
  • Yoohee Kim, 2007: Deliberation and the Internet in South Korea (lead supervisor)
  • Julie Firmstone, 2007: Media Coverage of Europe in British Newspapers (co-supervisor)
  • Maria Touri, 2005: Media-Government Interactions and Foreign Policy. A Rational Choice Approach of the Media’s Impact on Political Decision-Making (lead supervisor)
  • Emily J. Gray, 2005: The Politics of Pressure: Group Campaigning For and Against European Integration in Britain, 1997-2003 (co-supervisor)



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