The Center for Media and Citizenship is a non-partisan organization at the University of Virginia dedicated to broadening and deepening our understanding of the practices of citizen self-governance in the context of a rapidly changing media environment. We explore the past, present and future of citizenship and civic engagement — within the framework of ever-evolving media forms and technologies. We are particularly interested in the relationships between the practice of journalism and civic life, between a free press and the success of a citizenry in its effort to preserve and strengthen a democracy. The themes and principles which guide our work are realized through a mosaic of public programs, on-going projects, and University classes, outlined below. The pedagogical mission of the Center for Media and Citizenship is a paramount priority in everything we do: to create unique learning opportunities for our students both in and outside the classroom, on and off the University grounds. Our programs and projects are the result of a number of strategic alliances with affiliate organizations with whom we are proud to cooperate. And of course, the work we do, and the opportunities we are able to provide our students, are made entirely possible by the financial support we receive from individuals, organizations and foundations, for which we are sincerely grateful.


Speaker Series

The Center for Media and Citizenship hosts an annual lecture series program that begins each fall and runs throughout the academic school year. This program welcomes noted journalists, scholars, authors, political, business and non-profit leaders to the University of Virginia to share their expertise and insights in a public forum. The series encourages civil discourse and critical thinking about the themes and principles that are the focus of the Center’s work. Each event is webcast live online, videotaped and archived on our website, and will be aired on broadcast television. All events in the Series are free and open to the public.  We will launch our inaugural Speaker Series program in the fall of 2016. Please sign up for our newsletter to receive advance updates about these free events.

Conferences and Panel Discussions

In keeping with our mission to engage students and faculty in unique learning opportunities, the Center for Media and Citizenship hosts an annual academic conference. The multi-day event brings together a number of professionals from across a variety of disciplines and fields, working in and outside the the academy, to focus on key questions and themes at the heart of our work. Our students are not only integral participants in these events, but help to produce and plan them as well.  The Center also hosts an on-going panel discussion series each year, which can be thought of as mini-conferences: offering the University community an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection about the interplay between media, journalism, and civic life.  All our events are videotaped by student production teams, edited for broadcast on television, and archived online. We are currently planning our first conference and panel series for the 2016-2017 academic school year.

“Citizenship and the Profession”

Education at the University of Virginia, as envisioned by its founders, is aimed at creating citizen leaders who will contribute to the “useful sciences” of the human mind, make positive contributions to humanity, and leave the ideals of democracy, justice and citizenship stronger for those who come after us. To that end, the Center for Media and Citizenship hosts a series of informal conversations between our students and established professionals from a variety of fields: media, journalism, government, law, education, and the non-profit sector. Students will enjoy the opportunity to engage with leaders from these various fields, gain insight and perspective as they connect the dots between the work in which these professional leaders are engaged and the principles of citizenship and the practices of democratic self-governance. These informal, on-grounds gatherings will be tied with our Speaker Series, which brings nationally recognized professionals to the University for public events. “Citizenship and the Profession” will be a time we specifically set aside for our students to engage with these speakers, away from the cameras and the audience, for some reflective, in-depth conversation.


Journalism: An Oral History

Among the Center for Media and Citizenship’s signature initiatives is a unique project to archive sit-down, videotaped oral history interviews with veteran and accomplished journalists and scholars. We aim to record and preserve their first-hand memories about the practice of journalism, the changes they have observed in the profession, and most especially their reflections on the relationships between the work they do and the activities of citizens as they seek to engage in democratic, civic life. These extended conversations will be made available online for research purposes, edited for broadcast, and will be professionally cataloged and archived at the University of Virginia.

The Coy Barefoot Program

The Center for Media and Citizenship, in cooperation with Gray Television’s Newsplex of Charlottesville (the local affiliate for ABC, CBS, and FOX networks) sponsors a weekly tv program which is broadcast each Sunday morning at 10am on ABC 16 in Charlottesville and on Thursday evenings at 9pm on WVPT-PBS.  Hosted by award-winning journalist Coy Barefoot, the program offers exclusive, extended conversations about news, issues and ideas in Charlottesville and beyond. The program’s Executive Producers are Siva Vaidhyanthan and Coy Barefoot. While focusing on local news and events, the program also includes interviews with media scholars, authors, and nationally recognized journalists who engage in ideas about the media and citizenship in America. All episodes of the program are archived in the Media section of our website. You can watch the Sunday morning premiere each week live online at

The Citizens Band Radio Hour

The Center for Media and Citizenship, in cooperation with WTJU at the University of Virginia, produces a weekly, one-hour podcast and radio program that explores the issues at the core of our mission: media, journalism, and the ideals of a constitutional democracy.  Host Coy Barefoot offers in-depth, long-form interviews with scholars, authors, journalists, politcal leaders and many others. All episodes are archives in the Media section of our website.

Student Internship Teams: Media Production

Each year the Center for Media and Citizenship will offer internships to select students to participate as members of media production teams. They will learn from professionals and take on the full responsibility to produce, stage, write, shoot, edit, broadcast, and podcast all our media products. These teams will, for example, videotape and live-stream online our Speaker Series, Conferences, and public events; edit these recordings for television broadcast, and archive them online. We also encourage students to enterprise as teams to produce their own media.

The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Virginia Quarterly Review is among the nation’s longest running and most celebrated literary journals. Published at the University of Virginia since 1925, VQR is the recipient of numerous national magazine awards for its reporting, fiction, photography, essays, and criticism. The Center for Media and Citizenship, in cooperation with the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences, is honored to enjoy its close affiliation with this venerable and acclaimed journal. You can learn more about VQR and check out the most recent issue by visiting the website. And click here to find out how you can subscribe.


Journalism and Reporting

In cooperation with the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Media and Citizenship offers a semester-long, three-credit course in the practice of journalism— with a particular focus on local reporting in the Charlottesville area. The course is a hybrid: part speaker series, part hands-on, experiential workshops. Each week students enjoy an in-class opportunity to engage with a veteran professional from the local Charlottesville journalism community, including publishers, editors, reporters, broadcasters, owners and others. Students are introduced to key individuals, concepts, histories and experiences in the actual “making” of local media journalism in their community. They also spend at least 2/3 of their time each week meeting in professional media environments off-Grounds, where they learn by doing: in television, radio and print. Students have the opportunity to go on camera, on the air, and to write and report the news in Charlottesville. The class is open to 12 undergraduate Media Studies majors and is currently offered every other spring. Instructor: Coy Barefoot.

Media and Documentary History

The Center for Media and Citizenship, in cooperation with the University of Virginia’s Department of Media Studies, offers a unique course exploring theoretical and practical aspects of the production of documentary history across a multitude of media platforms. Students are introduced to the “making of history” in radio, television, documentary video, traditional and online museum exhibits, photography, historic cartography, book and magazine publishing, and even the arts.  The course introduces students to the structural, stylistic, and editorial nuances of each medium as a history-telling tool. Like the journalism course, this class is a hybrid as well: part speaker series, part hands-on workshops. A new guest speaker joins the class each week of the semester-long course, engaging students in conversation about documentary history production from their own professional background. Students learn non-linear video editing on the Adobe Premiere Pro platform and sound editing and podcasting with Adobe Audition. Instructor: Coy Barefoot.

Media and Citizenship: An Historical Survey

This class will offer students an historical survey of the changing ideas about citizenship, civic life and democracy in America since the 18th century: from Alexander Hamilton’s remark that “our real disease … is democracy” to the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment in the wake of the Civil War, to the stunning achievements in civil rights and civic engagement in the 20th century. We will reflect on these changes over time as they have related to evolving media technologies and changes in the practice of journalism. The work of author and scholar Michael Schudson of the Columbia School of Journalism, and specifically his illuminating and rigorously researched text “The Good Citizen,” will offer a guidepost for our readings and discussions. We will also explore current issues and challenges to the ideals of citizenship from the headlines as they raise questions about civic life in an age of rapidly changing digital technologies and new business models of journalism — including the impacts of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizen’s United v FEC, debates about Net Neutrality, protest movements in the Twitter Age, as well as the fate of the very concept of citizenship in a new, global era. Instructor: Coy Barefoot.

Reporting Crime and Punishment

This course explores the legal, ethical & practical dimensions of journalism about the American criminal justice system. Students read American crime writing, listen to the Serial podcast and view the HBO miniseries, The Jinx. Students will meet and interview professionals who work at various parts of the system. Students will produce, peer-edit, and revise several works of journalism in both text and video formats during the semester. Instructor: Siva Vaidhyanathan.

New Media in New York

This course will introduce students to the current challenges and opportunities facing major media industry firms and institutions. The transformation to digital production and consumption has put pressure on many traditional forms of media. It has also opened up profound opportunities. Along the way, firms and public institutions have had to face new facts of classic ethical and policy issues such as privacy, copyright, and decency. this course, taught in part on-line and in part in New York City, would involve intensive seminar discussions and a series of site visits to major media industries and with major figures in media. The core assignment would be a digital-video issue briefing that would rely on the issues raised by the assigned reading and our interviews with people working in these fields. Each student would choose a major ethical issue and work in groups to produce a short digital video about how companies are dealing with challenges raised by new media. Instructor: Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Privacy and Surveillance

Can we preserve dignity and privacy in the age of Facebook? This seminar will consider the history and current applications of technologies & cultures of surveillance. How & why did we get to the point where almost all of our activities leave a trace? What sorts of laws and policies do we need to protect our sense of personal integrity? Students will conduct two brief oral presentations (accompanied by a video) & produce a 20-page research paper. Instructor: Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Sports, Media, and Society

This course will explore the role that sports have played in the development of media and society, primarily but not exclusively in the United States. It will consider such issues as amateurism, labor, performance-enhancing drugs, race, gender, sexuality, body image, and the role of sports within American universities. Instructor: Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Copyright, Culture, and Commerce

In this course, we will discuss one of the most powerful social, cultural, economic and political institutions of our day: intellectual property (IP). How did we arrive at the notion that creative works and ideas can be owned, bought and sold like tangible commodities? What impact does this concept have on the way we view the world? How does it help us achieve our social goals, and how does it present obstacles to reaching those goals? Instructor: Siva Vaidhyanathan.

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