Learning Cluster at Soka University of America, January 2015: Course Objectives

In the last decades, the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Argentina have sought, through media reform, more participation in the production and distribution of media in principle to assure a plurality of voices. This political undertaking, which supporters of these elected governments see as an instrumental part of the process of re-democratization, is at the center of a controversial endeavor to overcome inequality in Latin America. For instance, the governments of Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina, have advanced new regulations through their respective congresses that are believed to be instrumental in the democratization of mass media. 

This Learning Cluster will explore the critical intersections of media, democratization, and social struggles Latin America. Together we will analyze the media as key political-economic institutions, as the public sphere or contested political-cultural arenas within which political and social struggles are waged. As such, the media will be understood as the object of political struggles over legislation or regulations that shape its functioning and also as a way to reinforce participatory practices and community projects. Students interested in this course should be willing to theorize and imagine new political, economic, social and cultural systems that are more participatory and egalitarian. Our focus will center on analyzing how different types of media platforms (corporate, state/public, party, community, social, etc.) play a role in current struggles and on how particular types of media restructuring reshape power relations at all levels.

The following are some questions I would like to consider in this LC: What is the role of the State in the production and distribution of media (TV programming, radio programming, film, internet programming) in the past few decades of neoliberal economics, post-dictatorship democratization processes, and increasing popular resistance to inequality in Latin America? How is “identity” shaped by different media formats? Have new digital technologies helped to undermine the monopoly of media conglomerates? What are some of the theoretical and ideological debates around the role of the media in the consolidation of democracy and the pursuit of social justice? How do social movements use and/or create their own media? What are some of the contributions of grassroots organizations and groups in the ongoing process of democratization?

Students enrolled in this LC will be part of a working group that will generate an application for a Nieves Grant to visit Latin America next academic year to continue research on this topic.

Student Bios

Hello! My name is Nobuyuki Furuta (Bambi). I am 20 years old and currently a sophomore at Soka University of America. I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. I am fortunate to be part of this Learning Cluster because it gives me a great opportunity to change my attitude toward media. Before I took this course and learned media literacy, I was very passive and just accepted what I saw in TV. Through this class, however, I realized that it is important to analyze the contents of broadcasts in order to understand what is really happening in this world. Visiting Tijuana and interviewing local people will definitely enhance my understanding of the media and democratization.

Hi! My name is Elissa Park and I am from Porter Ranch, CA. I am currently a first year student at Soka University of America, concentrating in International Studies. Due to my family background, I am extremely interested in Latin American studies and Spanish. During high school, I had the opportunity to study how current events connected to the past, future, and different things going on in the present. This led me to study media on various levels, ranging from the use of symbols such as tank man to the utilization of social networking by Ai Wei Wei. I also learned the interconnection between media and democracy and gained a deep interest in these themes. .

Hello. My name is Tomohiro Miyoshi. I was born and raised in Osaka, Japan, and I am currently a sophomore at SUA. I love to watch and play soccer. As for this Learning Cluster, I am particularly interested in what is the meaning of democracy for Latin American people. In my freshman year, I learned  that many Latin American countries had long suffered from military dictatorship before achieving democracy, which is very different from Japanese democracy. This experience inspired me to explore the meaning of democracy. So through this opportunity to learn about Latin America, I want to deepen my understanding of what it means to be a democratic country.

My name is Yuta Maezono and my friends call me Zonzon. I am from Japan, and a sophomore studying at Soka University of America. I am excited to be part of this “Media and Democracy” class because this class is a precious opportunity for me to study politics in Latin America. In the future I want to be in the important position in the world economy or politics and greatly contribute myself to this society. 

Stuart Adams is originally from Berkeley, California, and is now a Junior at Soka University of America. He has worked both within the California Assembly and as a community organizer for organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center. He is interested in the use of media as a tool for social movements and community organization. Stuart would like to see the Internet remain an open and equal space for media access and creation.

Hi, I'm Yoko Taguchi and currently a sophomore at Soka University. I'm really excited to be a part of this learning cluster because we focus on a crucial isuue in this world. Our topic, Media and Democracy in Latin America, is reagarding both modern and historical issues. It's complex and even painful to discuss the "memories," but I found it's necessary to shed a light on this painful issue. Before I take this course, I had no idea about Latin America; however, it now fascinates my mind. I really appreciate this opportunity and want to learn as much as I can.

Hi there! I am Si Min Chew, currently a first year student at Soka University of America. I was born and raised in the island city-state of Singapore in Southeast Asia. Growing up, the media industry in Singapore was small and limited, though this is partly because of our small population of 5 million people. It wasn't until our family had cable TV when I was 13 that I started to watch more TV shows and channels from China, Taiwan and the U.S. Freedom of expression is also restricted in part in Singapore, and I was one of those succumbing to the belief of the dis-empowered individual who can't be heard. Taking this learning cluster about media and democratization. however, makes me realize the power of the media platform in this new digital age and how closely media and democracy are now intertwined, and how important it is for citizens to actively participate in a democracy. 

Hi! My name is Luis Herrera and I am a third year student at Soka University of America. I decided to take this learning cluster because I am interested in investigating and researching the influence media has on the many aspects of Latin American society. Politics in Latin American countries have been highly influenced by the many forms of media, leading to the establishment of many dictatorships during the 1970s. Today, the media continues to have a large impact in Latin America, especially in the process of democratization. Being of Mexican descent, it is also interesting to learn about how the media plays a large role in Mexico with the chaos that is currently taking place in the country. 

Hi! My name is Cassidy Lavigne, I am from the Bay Area in Northern California and I am currently a freshman at Soka University.  I am so excited to be a part of this learning cluster because media and politics interest me. I am quickly learning that analyzing different governments and how they connect with their people is becoming something I am passionate about. I traveled to Mexico for a service trip my senior year of high school, and I am eager to visit again and absorb as much information and knowledge as I can. ​

iQué onda! I’m Hideto Akasu. I am currently a sophomore at Soka University of America. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, I have had many opportunities to notice the diversity of so many different kinds of cultures since I came to the US. Among many cultures, what interests me the most was Latin American culture. As taking Spanish language class in our university, I got to know not only the language but also the history, culture, and people’s lives in those Latin American countries. Having been thinking about entertainment business for my future carrier, media and politics are the very fields of study that I want to get familiar with. Especially, now, the influence of media on social movements is becoming something that we can’t ignore. We, as participants of democratic society, need to be aware that we are responsible for making a better world.

Ulises de la Orden

Tierra adentro (2012)

Relata el exterminio que emprendió el Ejército Argentino en 1879 bajo el nombre de "Conquista del Desierto". La campaña tuvo como objetivo de exterminar a la Nación Mapuche y Ranquel.

Media Organizations & Resources

Media Education Foundation

MISSION:The Media Education Foundation produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media . 



MISSION: Adbusters is a global network of artists, writers, students, educators, and entrepreneurs who want to launch the new social activist movements of the information age.


Alliance for Community Media


MISSION: We are committed to assuring everyone's access to electronic media. The Alliance accomplishes this by creating public education, advancing a positive legislation and regulatory environment, building coalitions and supporting local organizing. 

Center for Media Education


MISSION:The CME is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a quality electronic media culture for children and youth, their families, and the commnity. CME's research focuses on the potential--and the peril-- for children and youth of the rapidly evolving digital media age.

Community Technology Centers' Network 


MISSION: CTCNet envisions a society in which all people are equitably empowered by technology skills and usage....CTCNet brings together agencies and programs that provide opportunities whereby people of all ages who typically lack access to computers and related technologies can learn to use these technologies in an environment that encourages exploration and discovery, and through experience, develop personal skills and self-confident.

Independent Media Center


MISSION: The Independent Media Center is a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, objective, and passionate tellings of the truth. 

The Media Channel


MISSION: On Media Channel, you find original news, opinions, and reports. This super site is a reading room, a research center, and a meeting place for everyone with an interest in media. 

National Institute on Media & The Family


MISSION: The institute is a national resource providing educational tools and materials to help parents, teachers, community leaders, and other caring adults understand the impact of the media, so they can make informed choices for children. 

Periodismo en Mexico (Journalism in Mexico)

Las noticias se escriben con sangre

Al menos 10 periodistas mexicanos fueron asesinados en menos de 28 meses de la administración de Enrique Peña Nieto. Desde 2000, 82 comunicadores fueron muertos en México y otros 17 permanecen desaparecidos.

Por Gerardo Albarrán de Alba

Desde México DF

El desprecio hacia el trabajo periodístico en México por parte de actores políticos, sociales y empresariales es el hilo conductor en al menos 10 casos de periodistas mexicanos asesinados en menos de 28 meses de la administración de Enrique Peña Nieto, el último apenas confirmado el domingo pasado por la noche, cuando encontraron degollado a Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, un periodista y activista secuestrado en su casa en el estado de Veracruz el 2 de enero. El alcalde de su comunidad es señalado como autor intelectual del crimen.

México es el sexto país más peligroso del mundo para los periodistas, después de Siria, el territorio palestino de Gaza, Pakistán, Irak y Ucrania, según un reporte internacional difundido el 6 de enero en Ginebra por la Campaña por un Emblema de Prensa.

Para leer el resto de este articulo:


Tom is out 
We didn't see him but he's with us

Alex and Mariana at Bordofarms
Scott with Alex from BORDOFARMS

With journalist Mariana Martinez TCT
Bordofarms TCT
The fence TCT
The fence TCT
Playas de Tijuana TCT


The perceptions and pronouncements of human beings are inherently subjective. Every news article is the product of all sorts of highly subjective cultural, nationalistic, and political assumptions. And all journalism serves one faction’s interest or another’s.

The relevant distinction is not between journalists who have opinions and those who have none, a category that does not exist. It is between journalists who candidly reveal their opinions and those who conceal them, pretending they have none. 

Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.



Carolina Guerrero is a media entrepreneur, and co-founder of Radio Ambulante, a groundbreaking Spanish language podcast that uses long-form audio journalism to tell neglected and under-reported Latin American stories. Guerrero serves as Executive Director of the project, and is passionate about solving the problem of inequality of access, and democratizing the kinds of stories being told across the region. Before co-founding Radio Ambulante in 2011, Guerrero worked as a promoter for cultural and social projects, creating a bridge between organizations in her native Colombia, and public and private institutions in Latin America and the United States, designing and managing festivals and art exhibits, as well as teaching workshops and planning fundraising events. A current John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University, Carolina Guerrero and her team, were awarded the 2014 Gabriel García Márquez Prize for Innovation in Journalism, the most prestigious journalism honor in Latin America.

Sex and Broadcasting, documentary that highlights WFMU, a freeform radio station.