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Media and Democracy Working Group

The Media and Democracy Working Group is a hub for Birkbeck research into the constitutive role of media - including news, social media, and emergent digital technologies - in democratic systems and cultures. The working group places a particular emphasis on collaborations across disciplines and with partners beyond the academy such as think tanks, campaign groups, policy makers and journalists.

The Media and Democracy Working Group provides a unique space for academics, graduates and practitioners to share ideas and collaborate on cutting-edge research projects. It has a specific interest in how academic perspectives might impact new policies or practices relating to media's roles in democracies. The group organises symposia, panel discussions and workshops to foster interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary collaborations. It also engages with various media formats (e.g. podcasts) to reach wider audiences.


Associate Member/Honorary Research Fellows


  • Worlds of Journalism Study, a global scholarly endeavour to regularly assess the state of journalism throughout the world with currently some 110 members across five continents, hosted at the Department of Media and Communication, LMU Munich (Germany).
  • The Media and Politics Group of the Political Studies Association, a forum for a wide variety of academics with interests in the study of media policy, journalism, political communications, new information technologies and other topics.

Working with schools and research centres

What we're looking to accomplish 

  • The working group addresses a strategic gap by bringing together existing research in media and democracy, and more broadly between media studies, political communication, and political science. The working group will make more visible shared issues and methods of existing research projects and PhD projects (see below), creating a platform for mutual exchange, collaboration, and inspiration. Furthermore, it facilitates future projects that can build on existing strengths.

Implications of the research

  • develop research alliances with academics and non-academic institutions and practitioners such as policy makers, campaign groups and journalists
  • support PGR students (and funded studentships) in the field of media and democracy 
  • host symposiums, panel discussions, workshops
  • apply for joint research grants
  • collaborate on joint public events.

Previous events 

Existing research grants

  • The strong existing research focus on issues around media and democracy is underlined by several research grants that have been awarded to members of our group. The Media and Democracy Working Group makes the interconnectedness of these projects visible. The funded projects include:
    • BA Talent Development Award TDA22\220020
      • PI: Rob Topinka, CI: Scott Rodgers
      • Title: ‘Misinformation in Everyday Life: Portable Principles for Blending Qualitative and Quantitative Social Media Research’
      • Awarded: £8,883
      • Duration: April 2023 - March 2024
    • British Academy CST\220016
      • PI: Laszlo Horvath
      • Title: Exploring Citizens' Responses to Science in Public Policy Through Natural Language Processing and Conjoint Experiments’
      • Awarded: £80,931
      • Duration: October 2022 - October 2023
    • BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant SG2122\210958
      • PI: Imke Henkel 
      • Title: ‘Exploring the Democratic Role of News Media During Covid-19: Triangulating Digital News Outputs, Journalists’ Professional Reflections, and Audiences’ Experiences in the UK and Germany’
      • Awarded: £9,457
      • Duration: June 2022 - November 2024
    • Research Grant, Facebook Research
      • PI: Scott Rodgers
      • Title: ‘Localising Content Governance in Place-Named Facebook Groups’
      • Awarded: US$74,050
      • Duration: October 2020 - December 2023
    • Research Grant, Geneva Science-Policy Interface
      • CI: Scott Rodgers
      • Title: ‘Reliable Data for Evidence-Based Housing Policy (REDEHOPE)’
      • Awarded: CHF40,000
      • Duration: June 2020 - June 2023

Existing PhD students

  • Marcus McTurk, “Promoting the Peace: Cultural Representations of Irish Republicans Since the Good Friday Agreement.” (supervisor: Tim Markham)
  • Arne Molfenter, “No Ministry of Truth: A Critical Assessment of Countering Media Disinformation by the Institutions of the European Union” (supervisor: Imke Henkel)