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Communications Research in Action

Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere

Philip M. Napoli

Publication Year: 2010

A synergy between academia and activism has long been a goal of both scholars and advocacy organizations in communications research. The essays in Communications Research in Action demonstrate, for the first time in one volume, how an effective partnership between the two can contribute to a more democratic public sphere by helping to break down the digital divide to allow greater access to critical technologies, democratizing the corporate ownership of the media industry, and offering myriad opportunities for varied articulation of individuals' ideas.Essays spanning topics such as the effect of ownership concentration on children's television programming, the media's impact on community building, and the global consequences of communications research will not only be valuable to scholars, activists, and media policy makers but will also be instrumental in serving as a template for further exploration in collaboration.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-xiv

Communications Research in Action is a timely and important book for scholars, legal advocates, and community organizers interested in making a difference in communication and information policy (CIP) but not sure quite where to begin. CIP is a broad...

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pp. xv-xvi

This book and the book series of which it is the inaugural volume are dedicated to a pioneer of public interest media advocacy and activism, Dr. Everett C. Parker. In 1954, Dr. Parker founded the Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ...

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pp. 1-6

Research and praxis are great partners in theory. In the social sciences, normative concerns—such as conceptions of the means through which a functioning democracy is achieved—often guide research topics, questions, and conclusions. However...

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Part I: Explorations of Movement Actors: Strategies, Impacts, and Needs

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pp. 7-66

This part is devoted to research that has examined the activities, needs, and effectiveness of organizations dedicated to the improvement of our media system. Public interest media advocacy and activism has become an increasingly common focus of research...

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1. Digital Inclusion: Working Both Sides of the Equation

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pp. 11-27

This action research project examined efforts to enhance digital inclusion in San Antonio, a working-class immigrant neighborhood of East Oakland, California. Part of a longer-term collaboration between the researcher (Department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco) and an...

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2. Engaging in Scholar-Activist Communications in Canada

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pp. 28-44

I participated in the Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public Sphere (NKDPS) program as a member of the selection committee for the Collaborative Grants Program beginning in February 2008. My experiences working on various projects funded by the...

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3. Toward a Taxonomy for Public Interest Communications Infrastructure

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pp. 45-66

Since 1998, Prometheus Radio Project has been the reluctant bearer of bad news. Week-in and week-out, people from all over the United States call or write them asking how they can start a radio station. Most of the time the request for information comes...

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Part II: Media Ownership: Bridging Research and Regulation

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pp. 67-135

One of the most prominent communications policy issues in recent years has been the issue of media ownership. Concerns about concentration of media ownership have, in the United States in particular, mobilized academics, advocates, and the citizenry...

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4. Big Media, Little Kids: The Impact of Ownership Concentration on the Availability of Television Programming for Children

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pp. 71-87

Television has an extraordinarily powerful influence on children’s lives. Virtually all U.S. children watch television before their first exposure to formal education, and once they are in school children spend an average of three hours a day watching television...

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5. Minority Commercial Radio Ownership: Assessing FCC Licensing and Consolidation Policies

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pp. 88-113

This study examines more than 11,000 records from the Consolidated Database System (CDBS) at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as Internet sources on radio ownership and program formats in mid-2009 to analyze the effect...

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6. Cross-Ownership, Markets, and Content on Local TV News

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pp. 114-135

This study examined the effect that the cross-ownership of local television stations and newspapers may have on the local content of newscasts across television markets.1 It was carried out as a partnership between researchers (University of Delaware) and activists...

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Part III: Alternative and Community Media: Discovering Needs and Opportunities

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pp. 137-217

The chapters in this section describe collaborative efforts directed at the development and support of alternative and community media. One of the most prominent fields of activity for the public interest and advocacy communities in recent...

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7. Measuring Community Radio’s Impact: Lessons in Collaboration

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pp. 139-156

Community radio stations are mission driven. For WMMT-FM, a community radio station in Whitesburg, Kentucky, the mission is to document, disseminate, and revitalize the lasting traditions and contemporary creativity of Appalachia by providing local people...

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8. Youth Channel All-City: Mapping the Media Needs and Interests of Urban Youth

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pp. 157-176

Around the country, public access media centers are facing an identity crisis, an identity opportunity, or perhaps a combination of the two. These centers are a part of a larger media democracy and education movement that seeks to transform the structural, social, and representational arrangements...

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9. Mobile Voices: Projecting the Voices of Immigrant Workers by Appropriating Mobile Phones for Popular Communication

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pp. 177-196

Mobile Voices, also known as VozMob (www.vozmob.net), is a digital storytelling platform for first-generation, low-wage immigrants in Los Angeles to create and publish stories about their communities, directly from cell phones. The project is a partnership...

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10. Community Connect: A Network of Civic Spaces for Public Communication in North Dakota

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pp. 197-217

Can we build it? Will they join? These were the questions we faced as we started on a grassroots project to create a network of civic spaces for public communication in North Dakota that people will use...

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Part IV: Communications Infrastructure: Rethinking Rights

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pp. 219-284

The chapters included in this section focus on collaborative efforts related to the development and operation of fundamental communications infrastructures. In the contemporary media environment, issues of access to— and openness...

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11. Telecommunications Convergence and Consumer Rights in Brazil

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pp. 221-239

For over two decades, communication services have been a central item on the agenda of consumer defense organizations. In the past ten years, however, the number of issues related to this sector has grown—and continues to grow—exponentially, which increases...

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12. Citizen Political Enfranchisement and Information Access: Telecommunications Services in Rural and Remote Areas

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pp. 240-256

As an increasing number of participatory democratic processes assume access to modern, high-speed telecommunications services, this study addressed the question: Are citizens in rural/remote areas being politically disenfranchised by lack of adequate...

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13. Open Access in Africa: The Case of Mauritius

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pp. 257-270

How do African countries expand access to the Internet? A significant barrier to the region’s development has been the high price of bandwidth into and out of African countries, which has until recently come through a single submarine...

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14. The Public FM Project: Supporting the Licensing of New Noncommercial FM Radio Stations for Student and Community Usage

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pp. 271-284

Common Frequency’s Public FM project dealt with organizing and disseminating information concerning the licensing of new noncommercial radio stations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened a limited filing window...

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Part V: Assessment: Creating Support for Scholar-Activist Collaboration

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pp. 285-336

As was noted by Becky Lentz in her Foreword, all of the research projects in this book were the outcome of a multiyear collaborative, multipronged effort on the part of a number of organizations—including the Social Science Research Council...

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15. Cultures of Collaboration in Media Research

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pp. 287-312

My goal in this chapter is to offer some provisional thoughts on the efforts of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) to build a ‘‘culture of collaboration’’ between academic researchers and the media reform and media justice communities...

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16. Engendering Scholar-Activist Collaborations: An Evaluator’s Perspective

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pp. 313-332

This chapter offers some reflections based upon my role as an evaluator for the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Collaborative Grants program, which was the primary component of the Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public...

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Conclusion: Bridging Gaps, Crossing Boundaries

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pp. 333-336

This volume exemplifies just some of the ways that communications research, when put into action, can contribute to the knowledge necessary to enhance democracy and build a more democratic public sphere. According to...


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pp. 337-345


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pp. 347-366

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248834
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823233465
Print-ISBN-10: 0823233464

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2010