Welcome to the last online session of MRIS. Today we will discuss some strategies and tactics of media reform advocates and activists.

Strategy: What is being done towards a goal. Tactic: How that is achieved.

0. But, wait…

But, wait… Before we get to that: What IS media reform and who are media reformers? We are still wondering and debating…

Incidentally, I met Des Freedman (whom you all know by now) last weekend in Las Vegas and decided to ask about the final judgement from THE expert.

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I said to him: In the course on Media Reform we are wondering: How to define media reform, as issues, movements, stakeholders? Des: Why do you need to define that? Anything that relates to a more democratic media in any way. But the question is, of course about effectiveness, impact. That depends on the networks that the organization/individual/ collective is affiliated or connected with.

(Des and couple of other people did a panel  on public service media around the world at a conference in Vegas. If interested, you can stream the panel at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalPSMexperts/  — and feel free to join the group.)

And, so, I’m reiterating what I wrote to Paula:

Is our world simple? Can we frame and categorize easily? Isn’t academic conceptualization indeed about finding definitions, contesting those definitions, redefining them, looking at the world and wondering? And redefining again? (Just think about the idea of the public sphere and its million uses and billion pieces of criticism.)

Do we really want 1,2,3 and A, B, C of “this is media reform” and then we are knowledgeable and not confused? Is that scholarship? Especially in the times where our fields of journalism, (cultural) media studies, media sociology, political communication, media economics, and media law, are mixing with science and tech studies, computational communication, and so on.

But, if you want something to hold on to, and not to be confused, remember this. Media Reform has traditionally been about KNOWING, CHANGING, AND BEING the media. Not about social reform movements using the media as a tool for, say, human rights advocacy. — Our challenge is: The more mediatized the world becomes, the more blurred the this definition.

And the more I think about confusion, the more I want to say this: Confusion reforms scholarship. It forces clarifications, novel conceptualizations, and new thinking. As I noted in the beginning of this course: Studying media reform means creating the field.

Onwards and forwards:

1. Strategies and Tactics We Know About

All these strategies (and their tactics) have the goal of media reform. The strategies may differ, the goals are about knowing, changing, being the media.

  • INTERNATIONAL MULTI-STAKEHOLDER collaborations — and their AGREEMENTS (tactic) on GOVERNING THE INTERNET TOGETHER (strategy). Although we talk about global communication, laws that govern it are still form the mass media era — national. The UN, for instance, is very much trying with its Internet Governance Forum and the World Summit on Information Society (10+) to set some principles that nations could agree upon.

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  • ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS — and their PRESSURE/LOBBYING POWER (tactic) to ACHIEVE A MORE JUST SOCIAL MEDIA SPHERE (strategy). 77 social and racial justice organizations have recently urged changes to Facebook’s censorship policies and practices.
  • ARTISTS – CULTURE JAMMERS – and their “performances” (tactic) to RAISE AWARENESS (strategy). A classic example is Adbusters, raising awareness of the falseness of advertising…

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  • INTERNET FREEDOM GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS/GROUPS/INDIVIDUALS — and their (sometimes dubious) PROTEST TACTICS and LEAKS to promote INTERNET FREEDOM FOR ALL. Think about the Anonymous – the hacker group. They claim they are for freedom of expression and right now Israel fears for their annual attack.

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  • MEDIA EDUCATORS — and their TOOLKITS for media LITERACY (such as http://www.ihmisoikeudet.net/  — an educational website in Finnish by numerous non-profits, including a section on freedom of expression) or, as in the case of the media reform umbrella organization Free Press, their TOOLKIT for MEDIA REFORM (tactic) to create more ACTION AROUND MEDIA ADVOCACY (strategy).
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RwB downgraded Finland from its #1 position re freedom of the press because of the fishy business between the Finnish PM and YLE – the public broadcaster.

And so on… These just as some examples.

2. One Particular Tool: The Policy Brief


“A policy brief is: A short document that presents the findings and recommendations of research.
• A stand-alone document.
• Focused on a single topic, promotes action.”

Format – Basic Components

Executive Summary

1. Introduction to the issue – problem

2. Approach – how are you looking at the problem (in this case, the research you are resourcing – key focus and key results).

3. Conclusion and RECOMMENDATIONS for action, based on the research.


“Policy briefs are designed to support more informed evidence-based policy-making or decision-making within relevant organizations.”

By Whom

Experts, applied/academic researchers, advocacy organizations…

For Whom

“The most common audience for a policy brief is the decision-maker but it is also not  unusual to use the document to support broader advocacy initiatives targeting a wide but knowledgeable audience (e.g. decision makers, journalists, diplomats, administrators, researchers).”


“A policy brief must advance a persuasive argument in a concise, clearly organized fashion. A policy brief does not include a lengthy analysis or review of the literature.”

Scholarly Paper vs PB

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Source: http://anrcs.ucanr.edu/policy_communications/Policy_Briefs/

Great Resources


3. Your Final Assignment – A Twist

There is no actual assignment for this week. Looking forward to meeting you in a week!

We well meet on 3 May, Unioninkatu 37, seminaarihuone 4, 14-17 hours.

In the agenda: Our Special Guest Speaker on open knowledge, our map, and our final projects (including the policy brief format).

You can also stop by to discuss your final projects (voluntary) on

  • Mon 8 May 1245-1345; or

  • Tue 9 May 15-17; or

  • Thur 11 May 16-18; or

  • Fri 12 May 1630-1800; or

At Espresso Edge (my office away from home).

(I first thought of scheduling specific times for students, as I’ve done before, but it’s easier and more flexible for you this way. If more than one person shows up at the same time we will learn from one another.)

This week, however, introduces a twist to your final project — in case you want to try something different. Feel free to write your final project as a policy brief, as if you were an engaged scholar doing explicit media reformist work.

In this case, you will most likely gather secondary data and base your recommendations on that.

In this case, you will most likely want to think about your target audience: Are you writing for policy-makers? Or the general public?

We’ll discuss face-to-face.