Out of Pure Curiosity: Agnieszka Stępińska
Agnieszka Stepinska

What are you working on now?

Currently, I have been working on an international comparative study on journalistic role performance. The first wave of this study was launched by Claudia Mellado (School of Journalism at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile) in 2013 and it was finished just last year. This year we started the second wave of this project with scholars from more than 45 countries. The main goal of that project is to systematically analyze the state of journalistic cultures in the new media landscape across the world. And in December 2020 I will start working, hand-in-hand with scholars from 7 other European countries, on a new international project (under the NORFACE program) called “The Threats and Potentials of a Changing Political Information Environment”.

What qualities must a successful researcher possess?

I believe that it should be a mix of a high level of curiosity (about the world around us), patience (for solid, usually time-consuming research), and an open mind to learn as much as possible from others and acknowledge others' perspectives. Also, being able to act as a leader and a team member helps a lot: science is about collaboration now!

What would you be had you not become an academic?

When I was a student (MA and then PhD program) I used to work as a journalist. For me, journalism is not just a profession, it is a life-style. And I liked that life-style a lot. Today – after so many years of conducting studies on the media and journalism – I have a better understanding of all the limitations and challenges that profession faces. But still, I can see myself in the newsroom …

Which three books have had an influence on you?

Professionally, I really appreciate two seminal books in media and communications studies: Mass Communication Theory by the late Denis McQuail and Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics by Daniel Hallin and Paolo Mancini. When in doubt, I like to come back to basics and these two books remind me to use a broad perspective in my studies. In the last few years I was strongly influenced by a volume on Journalistic Role Performance, edited by Claudia Mellado, Lea Hellmueller and the late Wolfgang Donsbach. The book is an excellent selection of chapters on concepts, contexts, and methods in studies on journalism.

Is book writing still relevant to today?

Yes, I think it is. Writing a book is a project in itself. You need to design a structure and content, select data and findings you want to share with others, and sometimes you need to invite other people to accomplish the goal. So, it is not only about presenting the knowledge, but it requires other skills as well. When the book is ready, it is not only an outcome of your study but is a solid proof of your work on several fields: organization, selection, and cooperation.

Does the future belong to OpenAccess?

As a scholar I am a huge fan of the idea of providing the outcome of my study for free to everyone who is interested. On the other hand, I am perfectly aware that writing, editing, and printing a book requires a lot of work to be done. So, there should be reasonable funding policy to be able to pay for that work and make the outcome available in the OpenAccess mode.

What do you do to empty your mind?

In most cases, I am not so much interested in emptying my mind but rather in clearing it (🙂). Clearing is not only about throwing away what is not important anymore, but it is also about re-organizing what you have collected so far. Travelling always works for me: changing a place, a group of people, sometimes even a language I speak, helps me in finding other perspectives. Walking with my dog around the parks and forests also works well: I need to focus on throwing a ball as far as possible and stop thinking about theory of something!

Agnieszka Stępińska, PhD habil., is Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Her main areas of research are political communication and journalism studies. She participated in several international research projects, including “Foreign News on TV” (2009 – 2013) and “Global Journalist of the 21st Century” (2012). She led a research group studying “Media Coverage of the Polish EU Presidency” (2010-2013), and led another team contributing to the international project “Journalistic Role Performance around the Globe”. She acted as vice-chair of work group 2 in COST Action IS1308 on “Populist Political Communication in Europe” (2014-2018), and she leads a national team working on populist political communication in Poland ( Since 2019 she has been serving as an executive editor of the Central European Journal of Communication.
Agnieszka Stepinska, Artur Lipinsky, Dorota Piontek, Agnieszka Hess; Populist Political Communication in Poland: Political Actors -- Media -- Citizens
Agnieszka Stepinska (Ed.), News in Europe, Europe on News
Agnieszka Stepinska (Ed.), Media and Communication in Europe