The Media, Inequality and Change Center (MIC) is a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School and Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information. The Center explores the intersections between media, democracy, technology, policy, and social justice. MIC produces engaged research and analysis while collaborating with community leaders to help support activist initiatives and policy interventions. The Center’s objective is to develop a local-to-national strategy that focuses on communication issues important to local communities and social movements in the region, while also addressing how these local issues intersect with national and international policy challenges.
The Center’s core principles are to research, educate, connect, and engage. MIC accomplishes this by assessing social movement strategies and democratic deployments of technology; contributing to policy interventions that encourage structural reform; committing to long-term field building in political economy, media, policy and technology studies and other cognate areas; assisting social justice campaigns, and making material interventions around media and democracy. Bringing together scholars, journalists, policy makers, activists, philanthropists, and diverse constituencies, MIC strives to create more democratic media systems that serve community needs.
The Center is a forum for faculty, students, activists, policy makers and journalists to grapple with questions related to media, democracy, and social change. With an emphasis on community engagement in Philadelphia and New Jersey, MIC focuses on research, teaching and learning, community engagement, and field-building.
Graduate Research Fellows
Victor Pickard is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication where he co-directs the Media, Inequality & Change (MIC) Center. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of six books, including America’s Battle for Media Democracy; Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights; After Net Neutrality; and, most recently, Democracy without Journalism? More
Sarah J. Jackson
A scholar of the public sphere, Sarah J. Jackson studies how media, journalism, and technology are used by and represent marginalized publics. Her first book, Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press (Routledge 2014), examines the relationship between Black celebrity activism, journalism, and American politics. Her co-authored second book, Hashtag Activism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice (MIT Press 2020), focuses on the use of Twitter in contemporary social movements. As a 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, she is working on a third book on the political power and industry innovation of African American media-makers. More
Todd Wolfson is Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University and the digital media coordinator for the Master of Communication and Media program. His research focuses on the intersection of new media and contemporary social movements and he is author of “Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left” and co-editor of the forthcoming volume, “Great Refusal: Herbert Marcuse and Contemporary Social Movements.” Wolfson believes in the importance of engaged scholarship that leads to tangible action in the world, and to that end, he is a co-founder of the Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) based in Philadelphia, PA. More
Briar Smith is the Center’s program manager where she manages the Center’s grants, research endeavors, conferences, and the COMPASS program. She was formerly the Associate Director at the Center for Global Communication Studies at Annenberg where she oversaw the Center’s global grants, managed other research initiatives, and coauthored many CGCS/partner publications. While a graduate student at Annenberg, her research was focused on international cultural communications with particular focus on China and the Middle East. Briar has a Master’s degree in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania and BA’s in Chinese Language and Literature and Psychology from Swarthmore College.
Malav Kanuga is a cultural anthropologist trained in ethnographic and archival studies of space, culture, and power, as well as uneven development in an internationalist and historical framework. As an urban researcher and as an activist, his work on the cultures and histories of popular mobilization and imagination attends to the articulations and resistances to domination and hierarchy in the urban and social lifeworlds of racial capitalism.
His current research focuses on and accompanies organizing around carcerality, freedom, and public democratic media citizenship. He is interested in how and what communities communicate as they mobilize, and how movements leverage established as well as grassroots media opportunities to change narratives shaping both the policies governing consent and constraint, and the politics and legacies of liberation. More
Timothy Neff earned his Ph.D. from New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. His research interests include Media Systems, Field Theory, Journalism, Climate Change, and Social Movements. Timothy has published on public media and civically accountable journalism, as well as on the public service orientations of news outlets under different forms of ownership in the U.S., U.K., France, and Sweden. He is co-authoring a book comparing forms of media ownership power across multiple countries. His publications have appeared in Environmental Communication, International Journal of Communication and The International Journal of Press/Politics, and he is contributing to a forthcoming book on global issues such as climate change. Timothy is an Affiliate with Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
Pawel Popiel, Ph.D.
Pawel Popiel recently defended his dissertation at the Annenberg School for Communication and is now a postdoctoral fellow with the Media, Inequality & Change Center. His research focuses on two interrelated themes: the political implications of policies around information communications and digital technologies, and the political processes underlying the formulation and enforcement of those policies. His dissertation examines the politics and the blurring lines of competition policy in media and digital platform sectors. In his previous work, he has also explored the impact of federal and city grant programs on local nonprofits addressing the digital divide. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from McGill University and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.