Spaces of the News

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Project 1

New communication technologies present several challenges to the role of the journalist in society. The functions of inquiry, observation, research, editing and writing have had to adapt to the vast array of information available on-line; digital video footage, wire photos, amateur pictures taken with camera-enabled cell phones or digital cameras, the blogosphere, as well as the speed of 24/7 cable news. 

Investigating the impact of new media on the news, Spaces of the News has found that news media, and newspapers in particular, are in crisis. With newspaper circulation declining sharply and advertising revenue migrating to online classified sites and search advertising, the newspaper industry is without a workable business model. 

Digitisation has increased the speed of news reporting, while the websites created by newspapers to fend off competition require more space to be filled. Cuts by news organisations have reduced staff, leaving fewer people to file more stories in less time. The outcome has generally been journalism that is shallower and faster. Meanwhile, in the blogosphere other actors have made their views known and added to an abundance of comment and analysis. However, these voices have found it increasingly difficult to be heard. As a result, far from extending the range of voices and debates, news in the digital age is increasingly homogenous. 

The project's research has informed recommendations to mainstream news industry and those concerned with media policy. Our work is cited extensively in the Parliamentary Select Committee Report on Media Ownership 2008 as well as in the Ofcom Report on the BSkyB/News Corp buyout. We have given evidence, both written and oral, to different phases of the Leveson Inquiry.

Our research has also had a direct outcome. We set up the East London Lines News – a successful local community news website run out of the Media and Communications department. We also made recommendations for a more collaborative relationship to develop between news organizations and civil society associations. For further information about our activities please see the project outputs page.


Research Team:

Professor James Curran, Project leader

Professor Natalie Fenton

Professor Nick Couldry 

Dr Des Freedman 

Peter Lee-Wright 

Angela Phillips

Dr Tamara Witschge 

Joanna Redden

Latest news

The Spaces of the News research team are founding members of the Co-ordinating Committee for Media Reform, an umbrella organisation campaigning for reform of the UK media. The CCMR was established to represent the interests of civil society in the light of the Leveson inquiry and the Communications Review and to draw up policies designed to sustain public interest and foster a more democratic media system. 


On 8 February 2013, James Curran Gave a keynote address, ‘The Failure of Press Reformism in Britain Until Now?; 1945-2013’ to the Media Policy Post-Leveson Conference at Bournemouth University.

Professor James Curran gave a plenary keynote address  ‘Mickey Mouse Squeaks Back’ to the ‘Spaces and Places of Culture’ Annual Conference of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MECCSA) On 11 January 2013, in Derry/Londonderry. His address can be viewed along with that of Terry Eagleton.

Professor James Curran was interviewed on Radio 4 in 'Archive on 4: Regulation of the Press' on 17 November 2012.

Professor James Curran presented a public lecture on 'Citizenship, Internet and Democracy: A New Public Sphere?' at the Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture, 12 November 2012.


Dr Des Freedman presented a paper on 'Profits of the New Media Economy' to the ECREA Conference in Istanbul in October 2012 and was invited to present on a similar topic by the Media, ICT and Cultural Policy Research Group at the University of Bergen in November 2012. 

Dr Des Freedman was invited to speak to the International Symposium on 'Communication and Global Power Shifts' at the Communication University of China in Beijing, October 2012. 


Professor James Curran gave a masterclass on 'From the Rise of Media Entertainment to Misunderstanding the Internet' at the International Communication Association Conference in Phoenix, USA on 26 May 2012. 

Professor James Curran delivered the opening keynote address 'Demystifying the Internet' at the Identity, Culture and Communication Conference in Madrid, 19 April 2012.

Professor James Curran gave a keynote address on 'New Communications Technology and Societal Change' at aCentenary Conference at the University of Lisbon, 28 February 2012.

Professor James Curran presented a paper on 'Reassessing the Impact of the Internet'to the Social Media and Journalism Conference at Dublin City University, 22 February 2012.


Professor James Curran gave expert public presentation to the Leveson Inquiry, 21 October 2011.


On 12 October 2011, a new book by Toril Aalberg and James Curran (eds) was published, entitled, How Media Inform Democracy (Routledge, New York), in which James Curran co-authored four essays.


On 17 September, James Curran gave a keynote address at Lingnan University Conference in Hong Kong on 'Impact of the Internet: An Historical Perspective'.

While on 21 September, Professor Curran was in Sydney giving a public lecture on 'Internet: Prophecy and Reality' at the Police and, which was broadcast by ABC in its 'Big Ideas Series' on October 16, 2011. Listen to the broadcast here.


Mapping Digital Media: United Kingdom, written by Des Freedman and Justin Schlosberg, now available online.