POLIS is the LSE's media think-tank, a part of the Department of Media and Communications aimed at working journalists, people in public life and students in the UK and around the world. POLIS is the place where journalists and the wider world can examine and discuss the media and its impact on society. POLIS has a dual mission to:

1. Provide a forum for public debate and policy intervention on key issues of news journalism.

2. Produce outstanding research on the impact of mediation and journalism in our societies

To this end, POLIS' commitment is two-fold. It is committed to promoting open and substantial dialogue on the changing structures, policies and practices of journalism, inviting diverse stakeholders to reflect on the dilemmas that journalism faces today.

At the same time, POLIS is committed to enabling high quality, interdisciplinary research on the emerging challenges posed by formal networks and informal trajectories of news production and circulation. This is how the world is made available to us as a political, cultural and ethical reality.

POLIS is thus a hub of people and ideas which regards journalism not simply as a practical skill, but also as a historical-political practice to be situated within broader changes in public life. It is also a theoretical project to be approached in the light of social and cultural theory and political philosophy.

In bridging the applied with the theoretical, POLIS is uniquely positioned to engage with journalism at once as a set of contemporary challenges, around topical issues of professional sustainability, impartiality or democratic transparency, and as a set of long-standing ethical and philosophical questions about the very nature of technology, public communication and social change.

Regular guest speakers, the annual POLIS conference, research studies and published reports ensure current and lively debates around the most topical issues in media and journalism.

For more information on our events, our research, or our staff, please visit the links on this page.

You can also check out the POLIS Facebook page, Twitter account, and Director Charlie Beckett's blog for the most current POLIS updates.


We’ve just released the names of confirmed speakers for our annual journalism conference taking place on Friday March 28th. (See list below).  Registration for free tickets is available here.

Our conference in 2013 on ‘Trust in Journalism’  was a great success with more than 500 people enjoying the day. Our next annual conference will be on Friday March 28th 2014, andyou can sign up for tickets here.

The theme of this year’s conference is Transparency and Accountability. So we will cover everything from whether the Guardian is right to publish the Snowden files to how the UK’s press should be held to account.

It is our fifth conference and #Polis14 will be bigger and better than ever before.

There will be around 50 journalists speaking as well as academics, politicians, lawyers and activists. There will be keynote speeches, conversations and panel debates in the main hall. And we will have two other parallel venues for workshops, debates and presentations on all aspects of transparency and accountability journalism.

We invite anyone with an interest in news media to attend – it’s free and we provide sandwiches and drinks. We hope to have a networking event afterwards, too.

For more information and the full list of confirmed speakers, click here

A French student recently organized a meeting between a friend in public relations and a friend in journalism in Paris. The ‘relationniste‘ and the ‘journaliste’ had an exchange about the failings of each other’s ‘profession’. Apart from references to champagne and a couple of idiosyncratic idioms, we suspect that their lists would strike a chord with anyone from those tribes anywhere in the world.

Read the full lists here


In early February,  Polis hosted a screening of the documentary ‘Mo & Me’ followed by a Q&A with its producer, Salim Amin, and chaired by Dr Wendy Willems.

A review by Polis reporter Priyanka Deo can be found here

We’re delighted to announce Nina M. Chung as the winner of the StockWell Communications Polis Research Prize. This year, the award went to the best research proposal by an LSE post-graduate studenton the topic of ‘Corporate Reputation, Media and Society’. Nina will be spending time later this year with StockWell on a paid internship to carry out more work on her research topic. Nina’s proposal is entitled “Are You Sorry Yet?: The Purpose of Apologies in the Media and Corporate World” and is published in full here

One fact that can unite all sides in the post-Leveson press regulation debate is that the world now thinks that British journalists are less free and less likely to be free in the future.

This perception may be caused by false representations of the issues by the UK media or simple ignorance of the facts. But there is no doubt that journalists in both ‘liberal democratic’ and more restricted societies all believe that the Brits have sold the pass on press freedom.

To read the full post, click here

This is Professor Charlie Beckett’s personal submission to the House of Commons Department of Culture, Media and Sports’ Select Committee inquiry into the future of the BBC in the lead up to BBC Charter Renewal in 2016.

It draws partly on his experience as a journalist (including at the BBC from 89-99 and ITN 99-2006) but mostly on his last eight years leading research and debate at the LSE with academics, media practitioners, policy-makers and politicians looking at the changing nature of journalism in particular, and media in general. Most recently he has been working on research on public service media across Europe and new business and production models in the UK and internationally.

Summary of main points:

  • The BBC has a critical role globally and at national and local levels – these are different but should be complementary
  • Like all media organisations the BBC has to respond to new technological, social, economic and political realities by changing its organisation and activities
  • The idea of ‘public service’ has enduring value but must be reviewed in the light of new contexts
  • The BBC must prioritise its services to reduce in some areas and possibly develop new roles: universality does not mean ‘doing everything all the time’
  • The BBC must become a much more citizen-centred service, facilitated by the new technologies of personalisation
  • The BBC must become a much more networked producer by recognising its role in supporting wider creative industries and building social capital by acting as a commissioner and curator
  • The BBC must retain its core editorial values but be more critical of those in power and orthodox opinion and more risk-taking with a stronger emphasis on distinctive quality
  • By being more networked and citizen-centred the BBC will become more accountable, efficient and creative, but its governance and management should also be reformed. The BBC must also become much more diverse and challenge its own cultural biases
  • The BBC must reduce its overall capacity through a combination of commissioning, collaboration and prioritisation, but should retain the licence fee while preparing for potential new forms of financing

Click here to read the full submission. 


An artist like David Bowie is able to use images to create a remarkable bond between his own creativity and his audience. Those images primarily evoke feelings of pleasure but they also resonate with all kinds of social and even ideological concepts that we enjoy as part of the ‘pop culture’ experience. In this essay in two parts, LSE Media PhD student Ruth Garland explores the links between our experience of these kinds of images and political communication. With democracy suffering a crisis of confidence she questions the relationship between images and political meaning through the ages.

Click here to read part one. 

Click here to read part two. 

An upcoming debate here at LSE (13 February) will engage top academics and practitioners on media ethics in a post-Leveson world. It’s been over a year since the release of the report of the Leveson Inquiry and there’s been no shortage of discussion about the report and its implications on this blog or elsewhere. If you need a refresher, I recommend catching up by reading the following posts

29 Nov 2012: Leveson Report: Analysis

04 Dec 2012 Front Page Leveson: Papers Lead with Freedom the Day After The Report

16 Jan 2013: Leveson and Media Policy: A Lost Opportunity?

19 Mar 2013: Cross Party Agreement on Royal Charter Ends Phase One of Leveson

28 Mar 2013: Leveson Round Up: Are We Nearly There Yet?

28 May 2013: Leveson, Arbitration and the Local Press: Three Misconceptions

07 Oct 2013: Leveson is Back: What Kind of British Press Do You Want?

02 Dec 2013: The Leveson Report Anniversary: A Celebration or a Commemoration?

08 Jan 2014: It’s 2014 and We’re Still Implementing Leveson Inquiry Recommendation

08 Jan 2014: It’s 2014 and We’re Still Implementing Leveson Inquiry Recommendations

Slow movement on implementing a new form of press self-regulation and other changes recommended by Leveson has certainly helped prolong discussions of British media standards, but all the debate involving policymakers and various stakeholders could be seen as a positive. Perhaps these prolonged discussions are needed to determine what has to happen to ensure that British media is acting as an ethical player in a healthy democracy.

Next week’s debate at LSE will ask if ethics can help us think about whether we have the media needed for a healthy society and how we should think about the good or harm the media can cause. The event details are as follows:

Date: Thursday 13 February 2014
Time: 6.30pm-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speaker: Baroness O’Neill
Respondents: Professor George Brock, Gavin Millar
Chair: Professor Nick Couldry

Baroness O’Neill, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge and a crossbench member of the House of Lords, will open the debate followed by responses from George Brock and Gavin Millar. George Brock (@georgeprof) is head of journalism at City University and a member of the executive board of the International Press Institute and chairs the IPI’s British committee. Gavin Millar QC is co-founder of Doughty Street Chambers and a specialist in media law. He has undertaken a number of high profile defamation, privacy, contempt and reporting restriction cases and has acted for most of the major UK media organisations. The event chair, Nick Couldry (@couldrynick), is Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory in the Department of Media and communications at LSE.

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For any queries please email events@lse.ac.uk.

A huge thanks to all who submitted to the first Polis Photography Project! We were incredibly impressed with all of the photographs and unique interpretations of the theme “texture.” 

Without further ado, we are pleased to announce the following winners:

First Place, £50 book token: Alexander Hebels

Second Place, £25 book token: Veronica Leon-Burch

Third Place, £25 book token: Nur Kamaruzaman

All submissions, including the winning images, can be viewed in the posts below. The winners can come collect their book token prizes from Marion Koob in S116. 

Congratulations to all and we hope you continue to submit in our next go-around!