Summer 2023 - CMNS 437 D100

Media Democratization: From Critique to Transformation (4)

Class Number: 1681

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Jun 19, 2023: Tue, Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    75 units, including CMNS 235, 240 or 331, with a minimum grade of C-.



An advanced seminar on the normative debates, social bases, and strategic potential for media democratization in the context of economically developed liberal democracies like Canada and the United States. This course complements other courses which critically examine state communication policies and the political economy and allegedly ideological character of corporate media. Here, we focus on campaigns and movements in civil society to define and build alternative communicative forms based on equality, democratic participation and/or human rights. Students with credit for CMNS 428 or 487 under the same title may not take this course for further credit.


Living in a platform society, the idea of democratizing media is growing more complex and increasingly addresses issues like access to information, net neutrality, diversity of information, hate speech and data democracy. This is an advanced seminar in which we look at the philosophical foundations, normative assumptions and political actions that are underlying and shaping media systems in the digital age. Using democratic theories, we critically examine the current estate of media systems, normative debates, social bases, and their strategic potential for media democratization in Canada and around the world.

This course complements other courses which critically examine state communication policies and the political economy and allegedly ideological character of corporate media. Here, we focus on the link between the citizen and the media. We consider organized forms of resistance like campaigns and movements in civil society, as well as at the role of the individual. We look at forms in which citizens position themselves to the media through alternative communicative forms, as well as through interaction with the media online and offline. We discuss in which ways and how citizens contribute to and shape media systems and their normative underpinnings in the digital age.


  • Participation 10%
  • Short Self-Reflection Paper 20%
  • Presentation 30%
  • Final term paper outline 10%
  • Final term paper outline 30%


Grading to be confirmed in the first class.



Freedman, Des, J. Obar, C. Martens and R. McChesney, (eds.) (2016). Strategies for Media Reform: International Perspectives. Fordham University.


Robinson, S. (2018). Networked News, Racial Divides. How Power And Privilege Shape Public Discourse In Progressive Communities.

Segura. S. & Waisbord, S. (2016). Media Movements: Civil Society and Media Policy Reform in Latin America.

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2018). Anti-Social Media. How Facebook Disconnects us and Undermines Democracy.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.