Anne Johnston’s research interests include the media’s coverage of sex trafficking and the representation of gendered violence in the media. Her research has appeared in journals such as Feminist Media Studies, Political Communication, Journal of Communication, Women’s Studies, and Journal of Human Trafficking. She was selected as a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar at UNC in 2014 for her work on The Irina Project.

Johnston and MJ-School colleague Barbara Friedman co-direct The Irina Project (TIP) a research-based effort which tracks and investigates media representations of sex trafficking and advocates for the responsible, ethical, and accurate reporting of sex trafficking. TIP also provides resources to help in the coverage of sex trafficking. In addition, The Irina Project was a partner on a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission (North Carolina Department of Public Safety), working with Project No Rest to develop an awareness and education campaign about human trafficking and to connect victims of trafficking to services.


  • Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

  • M.A., University of Oklahoma
  • B.A., University of Central Florida


  • Friedman, B., & Johnston, A. (2018). Guest editors of special issue of Journal of Human Trafficking titled: “Media and Human Trafficking: Negotiating Meaning, Representation, and Change.”
  • Friedman, B. & Johnston, A. (forthcoming in 2018). “Narratives of Gender and Agency in the Modern Slavery Act of 2015,” in Journalism, Gender & Power, ed. Cynthia Carter, Linda Steiner & Stuart Allan (
  • Johnston, A. & Friedman, B. (forthcoming in 2018) “Boyfriends and Romeo Pimps: Narratives of Romance in News Coverage of Sex Trafficking,” for Race/Gender/Class/Media 4.0: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content and Producers, ed. Rebecca Ann Lind (Pearson Education, Inc.).