The Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media (IJPM) is a collaborative effort between Syracuse University's College of Law, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. IJPM is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of issues at the intersection of law, politics, and the media. The institute sponsors lectures, conferences, and symposia designed to foster discussion and debate between legal scholars, sitting judges, and working journalists. The institute provides research grants and seed money for scholars pursuing law-oriented projects that cut across traditional academic boundaries. The institute also oversees a cross-disciplinary graduate certificate program organized around a team-taught course offerings. To learn more about IJPM and its activities, please visit

Table of Contents

Media Reform: An Overview

Des Freedman, University of London - Goldsmiths College
Jonathan A. Obar, University of Toronto - Faculty of Information, Michigan State University - College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Sponsored by Institute for the Study of the Judiciary,
Politics, and the Media (IJPM) at Syracuse University

"Media Reform: An Overview" Free Download

DES FREEDMAN, University of London - Goldsmiths College
JONATHAN A. OBAR, University of Toronto - Faculty of Information, Michigan State University - College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Media reform is a great and formidable challenge. Across international contexts, reformers are inspired by what the late C. Edwin Baker referred to as the democratic distribution principle for communicative power: ‘a claim that democracy implies as wide as practical a dispersal of power within public discourse’ (Baker, 2007, p. 7). The challenge is made manifest in battles over the future of investigative journalism, media ownership, spectrum management, speech rights, broadband access, network neutrality, the surveillance apparatus, digital literacy and many others waged in pursuit of the normative ideals at the heart of Baker’s vision. At the same time, those committed to media reform confront formidable challenges: entrenched commercial interests and media conglomerates; sometimes powerful, sometimes disorganized and sometimes neoliberal governments; a general public often disenfranchised, digitally illiterate and not focused on issues of media reform; and always, the uphill battle of organization, mobilization and influence that is the work of any activist.

In light of these significant challenges, the central question addressed by this volume is: what strategies might be utilized to overcome these obstacles in the pursuit of media reform? The chapters included in this volume aim to present and analyze successful strategies that have helped to advance media reform efforts in a variety of countries and contexts throughout the world.

The remainder of this introductory chapter includes a working definition of media reform in light of the many challenges we currently face, and concludes with an overview of the chapters included in the volume.


About this eJournal

Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media (IJPM) at Syracuse University.

Legal systems operate in a complex environment of principle, political pressure, and media coverage. The goal of the Law, Politics, and the Media subject eJournal is to distribute abstracts of working papers and articles that promote a more integrated understanding of law, courts, and their environment. To this end, the eJournal seeks scholarship that addresses any combination of legal, political, and media-related themes in the analysis of legal institutions, beliefs, and practices. The eJournal is open to work from the social sciences, the humanities, and the legal academy. Papers and articles that focus on the United States, as well as scholarship that is comparative or international in scope, are welcome.

Editor: Keith James Bybee, Syracuse University


To submit your research to SSRN, sign in to the SSRN User HeadQuarters, click the My Papers link on left menu and then the Start New Submission button at top of page.

Distribution Services

If your organization is interested in increasing readership for its research by starting a Research Paper Series, or sponsoring a Subject Matter eJournal, please email:

Distributed by

Legal Scholarship Network (LSN), a division of Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP) and Social Science Research Network (SSRN)



Northwestern University - School of Law, Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Stanford Law School, Columbia Law School, European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Please contact us at the above addresses with your comments, questions or suggestions for LSN-Sub.

Advisory Board

Law, Politics & the Media eJournal

Reporter, SCOTUSblog

John F. Kimberling Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington

Supreme Court Correspondent, Legal Times/Incisive Media

Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for Advancement of Citizenship; Director, Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center, University of Washington - Department of Political Science

William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence & Political Science, Amherst College