Public Interest Media Activism and Advocacy as a Social Movement: A Review of the Literature

By Philip M. Napoli - 2007

This report examines the academic literature focused on public interest media and communications activism and advocacy within the U.S. and abroad. This report first seeks to outline the parameters of the movement under consideration, in terms of the primary conceptual frames employed, outcomes pursued, and strategic approaches. As this section illustrates, the media reform movement is characterized by a diverse array of conceptual frames (ranging from “media reform” to “media justice” to “communication rights” to “media democracy”), and a hesitancy at this point to coalesce around a single unifying frame. The movement is similarly diverse in terms of its outcome priorities and in terms of the strategic approaches employed by its various member organizations.

The second section of the report charts the origins and evolution of the research in this field. As this section illustrates, over time the analytical approach that scholars have brought to the topic increasingly has adopted a social movement theory perspective.

The third section considers the media reform movement as a social movement, identifying key recurring themes in the literature related to the interaction between media reform and other social movements, to the relationship between social movements and the media, and to the organization and performance of the organizations driving the media reform movement.

McGannon Center Working Paper Series. Paper 21. Download here.


By Philip M. Napoli| 2007


Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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