Victor Pickard (professor)

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Victor Pickard
Born United States Sewickley, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Education Allegheny College
University of Washington
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Occupation Professor, Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania
Employer University of Pennsylvania

Victor Pickard is an American media studies scholar. He is a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania where his research explores the intersections of U.S. and global media activism and politics; the history and political economy of media institutions; and the normative foundations of media policy. He has delivered numerous conference presentations, invited lectures, and media interviews, and published dozens of journal articles and book chapters on subjects such as the politics of digital media policy, the media reform movement, and mainstream news narratives. He frequently speaks to the public and to the press about media-related issues and his op-eds have appeared in newspapers like The Guardian, The Seattle Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Background and Education[edit]

Pickard was born outside of Pittsburgh in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. He attended Allegheny College after graduating from Quaker Valley High School. After living abroad for nearly five years of teaching and traveling in parts of Asia, Europe, and Central/South America, Pickard returned to the U.S. to resume his academic studies. He holds a master's degree in communications from the University of Washington where he conducted research for the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement and wrote his thesis on the Seattle Independent Media Center, an innovative communications model based on networked activism, open publishing, and consensus-based decision-making. In 2008 he received his Ph.D. at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Academic Career and Policy Work[edit]

Before teaching at Penn, Pickard was an assistant professor in the Media, Culture, and Communication Department at New York University. At NYU Jon Stewart guest-lectured Pickard's Intro to Media Studies course (a clip of the event aired on The Oprah Winfrey Show). Pickard also designed and taught the inaugural Verklin media policy course at the University of Virginia. In Washington, D.C. he worked on media policy as a senior research fellow at the media reform organization Free Press and the public policy think tank the New America Foundation. Pickard was the first full-time researcher at New America's Open Technology Institute, where he continues to serve as a senior research fellow and advises their Media Policy Initiative and Wireless Future Project. While working in D.C. he also served as a media policy fellow for Congresswoman Diane Watson and spent a summer conducting research as a Google Policy Fellow.

Pickard's research has received a number of grants and awards from national and international associations, including the National Communication Association, the International Communication Association, the Association of Internet Researchers, and the Yale Information Society Project's Access to Knowledge Conference. He received the Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award for "Media Democracy Deferred: The Postwar Settlement for U.S. Communications, 1945-1949", which focuses on postwar media policy debates and reform efforts. This research forms the basis of his book on the history and future of news media (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press).


In 2009, Professor Pickard was the lead author of the first comprehensive report on the American journalism crisis, "Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy" (Published by Free Press). The widely cited report documented the roots of the crisis, potential alternative models, and policy recommendations for implementing structural reform in the American media system. The report was described as “the most intelligent and comprehensive proposed solution to the crisis in journalism"[1] and listed as one of “2009’s Most Influential Media About Media.”[2]

In 2011 Pickard co-edited the book Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It with Robert McChesney. The book provides a comprehensive analysis of the shifting news media landscape and maps the ongoing debates about journalism's uncertain future. Booklist called it “Bold, meditative, engrossing, this is an indispensable guide for followers of modern media.” A review in Library Journal described it as highlighting "journalism's role as a crucial component of democracy and an institution that needs to be reinvigorated ... anyone concerned about the state of journalism should read this book."[3]

Pickard's 2014 Book, America's Battle for Media Democracy, explores how the contemporary American media system came to be. The book explores why the United States has fewer public interest regulations compared with other democratic nations, how a handful of corporations came to control media, and why structural problems like market failures are routinely avoided in media policy discourse. Pickard draws from extensive archival research to uncover the American media system’s historical roots and normative foundations and charts the rise and fall of a forgotten media reform movement to recover alternatives and paths not taken. Furthermore, the book draws from lessons of the past to provide insight on policies for capturing the democratic potential of the Internet.



  • Victor Pickard (2014). America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform. Cambridge University Press
  • Robert McChesney & Victor Pickard, eds. (2011). Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It. New York: The New Press.


  • Victor Pickard, Josh Stearns & Craig Aaron (2009). “Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy,” Free Press, Washington, D.C.

Journal Articles[edit]

  • Victor Pickard (2012). The Air Belongs to the People: The Rise and Fall of a Postwar Radio Reform Movement, Critical Studies in Media Communication.
  • Victor Pickard (2011). Can Government Support the Press? Historicizing and Internationalizing a Policy Approach to the Journalism Crisis. The Communication Review, 14 (2) 73 – 95.
  • Victor Pickard (2011). The Battle over the FCC Blue Book: Determining the Role of Broadcast Media in a Democratic Society, 1945-1948. Media, Culture & Society 33 (2) 171–191.
  • Victor Pickard (2011). First They Came for Everyone: The Assault on Civil Society Is an Injury to All. International Journal of Communication, 5, 1820-1826.
  • Victor Pickard & Josh Stearns (2011). New Models Emerge For Community Press. Newspaper Research Journal 32, 1, 46-62.
  • Sascha Meinrath, James Losey & Victor Pickard (2011). Digital Feudalism: Enclosures and Erasures from Digital Rights Management to the Digital Divide. CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy, 423-479.
  • Victor Pickard (2010). Whether the Giants Should Be Slain or Persuaded to Be Good: Revisiting the Hutchins Commission and the Role of Media in a Democratic Society. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 27, 4, 391-411.
  • Victor Pickard & Sascha Meinrath (2009). Revitalizing the Public Airwaves: Opportunistic Unlicensed Reuse of Government Spectrum. International Journal of Communication, 3, 1052-1084.
  • Victor Pickard (2007). Neoliberal Visions and Revisions in Global Communications Policy from NWICO to WSIS. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 31 (2), 118-139.
  • Victor Pickard (2006). United yet Autonomous: Indymedia and the Struggle to Sustain a Radical Democratic Network. Media Culture & Society, 28 (3), 315-336.
  • W. Lance Bennett, Victor Pickard, David Iozzi, Carl Schroeder, Taso Lagos, and Courtney Evans-Caswell (2004). Managing the Public Sphere: Journalistic Construction of the Great Globalization Debate. Journal of Communication, 54, 437-455.


  1. ^ Pearson, Sarah Hinchliff. "How to Save Journalism". Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Bracken, John. "2009′s Most Influential Media About Media". Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights". Retrieved 6 August 2012.