This course is a part of the international Master’s Degree Programme on Media and Global Communication at the University of Helsinki. The language of study and assessment is English.

Learning Objectives

  1. Mapping and exploring different forms of media democratization movements.
  2. Understanding the historical context and development of different strands of movements.
  3. Relating communication and democracy theories, as well as scholarly work on social movements, with cases of media reform and democratization.
  4. Gaining knowledge of the most important media reform and Internet rights issues and cases.
  5. Understanding communication strategies and tactics of media reform and Internet rights movements.


Who owns the media? Will the Internet always be free? What to do about filter bubbles and hate speech? How to curb fake news and fund quality journalism? Ranging from local and virtual community activism to national and international advocacy organizations, more and more individuals and groups are fighting for a more robust, diverse, and egalitarian media landscape.

This course examines national, regional, international, and global challenges in media ecosystems – and those who want to tackle them to create a more democratic world. We will study cases of media democratization both from theoretical as well as practical (communicative and strategic) perspectives. The assignments will reflect this dual approach.

The units of instructions are:

1) A Long Journey: Definitions and Histories of Media Reform, Media Justice, and related movements.

2) Borders and Borderless Media: Core Issues Today, in Theory and Praxis

3) Advocates and Activists: Stakeholders in Making Change Happen

4) Engaged Scholarship: Role of Media/Communications Scholars

5) Strategies and Tactics: Basics of Movements-Building

6) The Future: From Media Reform to the Sensory Revolution and Algorithmic News

Please see Readings / Resources for your literature.


 The course will explore several social media platforms as educational spaces. The main platform will an open-access, open-source blog to which the students will be invited a week before the start of the course. We will also explore other collaborative, and free, digital tools.

We will meet in person on:

Wednesday 3.5., 14-17 hrs at Unioninkatu 37, seminar room 4.

You will have a chance for individual consultations regarding your final project on Thursday 4.5. (10-14), Monday 8.5. (12-18), or Tuesday 9.5. (14-18).

Conduct and Completion

1) Weekly participation in online assignments/discussions. These will be posted online every Wednesday, and you will have a week to complete them. You will receive individual and/or collective feedback each week, depending on the nature of the assignment.  This also includes participation in face-to-face meetings in Helsinki. 40% of the grade. Please see Practicalities for further information!

2) Individual or collaborative project: Ranking Digital Rightstesting engaged scholarship. 20% of the grade. Detailed instructions will be discussed during the course.

3) Final paper, drawing from the above RDR experience: a theoretical or empirical essay. 40% of the grade. Detailed instructions will be discussed during the course.

Grading scale: 1,2,3,4,5.
Fail (F), 1 (Sufficient = E), 2 (Satisfactory = D), 3 ( Good = C), 4 (Very Good = B ), 5(Excellent = A).