Strategies for Media Reform: International Perspectives

Strategies for Media Reform: International Perspectives

Strategies for Media Reform: International Perspectives

Strategies for Media Reform: International Perspectives


Media reform plays an increasingly important role in the struggle for social justice. As battles are fought over the future of investigative journalism, media ownership, spectrum management, speech rights, broadband access, network neutrality, the surveillance apparatus, and digital literacy, what effective strategies can be used in the pursuit of effective media reform? Prepared by thirty-three scholars and activists from more than twenty-five countries, Strategies for Media Reform focuses on theorizing media democratization and evaluating specific projects for media reform. This edited collection of articles offers readers the opportunity to reflect on the prospects for and challenges facing campaigns for media reform and gathers significant examples of theory, advocacy, and activism from multinational perspectives.


Robert W. McChesney (University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign)

This volume is a testament to the emergence of media reform as a concrete area of political activity and as an emerging and important field of intellectual inquiry and scholarly research. Inside these covers you will find a heterogeneous collection of essays by some of the leading media reform activists and scholars of our times. in this preface I offer a few observations on the emergence of media reform and how to consider it.

Communication and media systems have come to play a central role in contemporary societies. Media reform is premised on a simple notion: “the problem of the media” (McChesney 2004). This phrase refers to the fact that communication and media systems are always the result of government policies, rules, regulations, and subsidies, both direct and indirect. There is no natural media system; it is always created. It is a problem to be solved, like an algebraic equation, with the difference being that there is no “right” answer, only a range of answers that reflect different values and priorities.

That does not mean the existing political economy does not greatly influence what a media system will look like. a capitalist society will have pressure to adopt a commercial system. But, as the stark differences in broadcasting systems adopted by various capitalist nations demonstrates, there remains a certain range in how the media system can be structured. Most important, there is no “default” position. Even if one wishes to have a profit-driven communication system in a capitalist society, it requires extensive government policymaking and involvement to make it practical.

Put another way, media and communication have significant power and influence in society, and the systems are the result of government policies. Then . . .

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