Professor Natalie Fenton

Staff details

Natalie's research interrogates the relationship between media, democracy and social change.

Natalie is a Professor of Media and Communications. Her research is concerned to address one of the most complex and vital issues of our age - the role the media play in the formation of identities and democracies and why and how people seek to change the world for socially progressive ends. Located in debates on media justice, social and economic democracy and social equality her research exposes the necessity for radical reform of concentrated media and tech power and the need to re-imagine what a democratic politics might mean in a digital age.

Teaching and supervision

I teach the following courses: Critical Perspectives in Political Communications on the MA Political Communications & Global Cultural Politics on the BA PPE.

I am interested in supervising students in the broadly defined areas: media & democracy; political economy of media & cultural industries; media power; media & political resistance; media & radical politics; civil society & the media.

Research interests

Natalie has published widely on issues relating to news and journalism, media and democracy, media reform, civil society and the public sphere, radical politics, digital media and social change. She has particular interests in issues of political transformation, rethinking our understanding of public culture and the public sphere, radical media reform and re-imagining democracy.

She has researched and directed over 20 externally funded research projects receiving funding from a range of foundations and UKRI funding bodies.

She has a new book for Polity Press that will be published in October 2024: Democratic Delusions: How the media hollows out democracy and what we can do about it.

Publications and research outputs


Davis, Aeron; Fenton, Natalie; Freedman, Des (D. J.) and Khiabany, Gholam. 2020. Media, Democracy and Social Change: Re-imagining Political Communications. London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781526456960

Fenton, Natalie; Freedman, Des (D. J.) ; Schlosberg, Justin and Dencik, Lina. 2020. The Media Manifesto. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 9781509538065

Curran, James P.; Fenton, Natalie and Freedman, Des (D. J.) . 2017. Misunderstanding the Internet, 2nd edition (in Korean). Seoul, South Korea: Culturelook. ISBN 97-11-85521-06-0-94300

Edited Book

Fenton, Natalie, ed. 2009. New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age. London: SAGE. ISBN 978-1847875747

Tonkiss, Fran; Passey, Andrew; Fenton, Natalie and Hems, Les, eds. 2000. Trust and Civil Society. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0333778159

Edited Journal

Calabrese, Andrew and Fenton, Natalie, eds. 2015. A symposium on media, communication and the limits of liberalism, European Journal of Communication, 30(5). 0267-3231

Fenton, Natalie, ed. 2012. Telling Tales: Press, Politics, Power, and the Public Interest, Television and New Media, 13(1).

Fenton, Natalie, ed. 2010. Special Edition: ‘Rupert Murdoch and Empire’, Television and New Media, 13(1). 1527-4764

Book Section

Fenton, Natalie and Freedman, Des (D. J.) . 2022. Media Reform and the Politics of Hope. In: Joanna Zylinska, ed. The Future of Media. London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 25-41. ISBN 9781913380144

Fenton, Natalie. 2021. Corruption in the Fourth Estate: How the Guardian exposed phone hacking and reneged on reform of press regulation. In: Des (D. J.) Freedman, ed. Capitalism's Conscience: 200 Years of the Guardian. London: Pluto Press, pp. 169-185. ISBN 9780745343341

Fenton, Natalie. 2020. Distracted by technologies and captured by the public sphere. In: Leah Lievrouw and Brian Loader, eds. Routledge Handbook of Digital Media and Communication. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781138672093


Fenton, Natalie; Freedman, Des (D. J.) ; Khiabany, Gholam and Williamson, Milly. 2023. Critiquing the Vocabularies of the Marketized University. Media Theory, 7(1), pp. 277-298. ISSN 2557-826X

Fenton, Natalie. 2023. Critique is Dead – Long Live Critique: A response to Finlayson and Cusset. Media Theory, 7(1), pp. 63-74. ISSN 2557-826X

Fenton, Natalie. 2023. Understanding Civic Participation and Realizing Data Justice. International Journal of Communication, 17, pp. 3660-3678. ISSN 1932–8036

Conference or Workshop Item

Barassi, Veronica and Fenton, Natalie. 2010. 'Alternative Media and Social Networking Sites: The Politics of Individuation and Political Participation'. In: Community and Communication Section at the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). Braga, Portugal.


Freedman, Des (D. J.) ; Fenton, Natalie; Metykova, Monika and Schlosberg, Justin. 2010. Meeting the News Needs of Local Communities. Project Report. Commissioned by Media Trust.

Freedman, Des (D. J.) ; Witschge, Tamara and Fenton, Natalie. 2010. Protecting the News: Civil Society and the Media. Project Report. Carnegie UK.

Professional projects

As an engaged and critical scholar Natalie constantly combines her research with activism beyond the academy: she was Vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the campaign group Hacked Off for 7 years and a founding member and former Chair of the UK Media Reform Coalition. She is currently on the Board of Declassified UK an investigative journalism website for in-depth analysis on British foreign policy.

Research projects

2021-2024: The BBC and Beyond: Imagining a Media Commons
The BBC and Beyond is a campaign from the Media Reform Coalition. Combining interviews and 9 'town-hall' events (watched by 30,000 people) we produced a Manifesto for a People’s Media

Media engagements

2017: Investigating the Echo Chamber
Portland's Deirdre Livingston interviews Natalie about the effects on the world from our everyday lives to democracy


2019: How the British media helped Boris Johnson win
Opinion piece

2020: Covid-19 and the ownership and control of the media
Opinion piece

2022: Media Matters
A short film made by Carl Joyce and Mike Quille, with the support of the Communication Workers Union.

2022: How the UK Media Could Serve the Public Interest
A piece discussing ideas for media reform from 'A Manifesto for a People's Media'

Conferences and talks

2016: Media and Politics
Sage Video Experts

2021: Misinformation in News
Public Talk

2021: Media Reform

2021: How the media let the government get away with over 100,000 deaths
Owen Jones Show

2023: Interview with Miriam Lewis of Defensoria del Publico
Interview with Defensoria del Publico de Argentina (Spanish translation)