Media advocacy is defined as...

Media advocacy is defined as the strategic use of mass media to advance public policy initiatives. Media advocacy is rooted in community advocacy and has as its goal the promotion of healthy public policies. It can be differentiated from traditional mass media strategies in a number of ways. Media advocacy shifts the focus from the personal to the social, from the individual to the political, from the behavior or practice to the policy or environment. While traditional media approaches try to fill the “knowledge gap,” media advocacy addresses the “power gap.”



John Wihbey

School of Journalism Representative

John Wihbey is an assistant professor of journalism and media innovation at Northeastern University, where he heads the graduate programs in the School of Journalism. He is a faculty affiliate with the Global Resilience Institute and the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. His forthcoming book is The Social Fact: News and Knowledge in a Networked World (MIT Press, Spring 2019). He is faculty co-director of the Co-Laboratory for Data Impact, launched Fall 2019.

Dan Urman

School of Law Representative

Dan Urman is the director of Northeastern School of Law’s Online & Hybrid Programs and holds a joint appointment with Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, where he runs the law and public policy minor. Dan has taught at Northeastern since 2009, teaching undergraduate and graduate classes and leading programs at the university. Dan teaches topics including the “American Legal System,” “Constitutional Law & the U.S. Supreme Court,” “Human Rights,” and “Criminal Justice.” Before coming to Northeastern, Dan practiced law at large law firms and served as a criminal prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Jeremy Paul served as dean of Northeastern University School of Law from 2012 until June 2018. He teaches Constitutional Law, Property and Jurisprudence, and co-directs the University’s Media Advocacy program. A 1978 graduate of Princeton University, he received his law degree from Harvard in 1981. Before coming to Northeastern, Professor Paul served for 23 years on the faculty of the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he was dean and the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor of Real Property Law from 2007 until 2012.

Myojung Chung is an assistant professor of journalism and media advocacy at Northeastern University. In her research and teaching, she focuses on how the emergence of new media has changed journalism and strategic communication. She is particularly interested in how online participatory behaviors such as commenting, liking, and sharing affect audiences’ processing of news or other mediated messages, and how to make messages more persuasive and effective in the digital era. Her research also explores how non-profit organizations, particularly advocacy groups, can strategically use media to amplify voice, mobilize support for social changes, and engage target audiences in a call-to-action.

A human rights filmmaker, Jody Santos has traveled to some 30 countries across five continents, documenting everything from the trafficking of girls in Nepal to the widespread and often abusive practice of institutionalizing children with disabilities in the U.S. and abroad. Her book, Daring to Feel: Violence, the News Media, and Their Emotions, was published by Rowman & Littlefield’s Lexington Books division in 2009. Challenging the journalistic mandate of objectivity, the book explores what happens when journalists allow themselves to feel. No longer detached observers, they are free to see violence in all of its emotional complexity.

Rahul Bhargava is an educator, researcher, designer, and facilitator who works on data storytelling and technology design in support of social justice and community empowerment. He has created big data research tools to investigate media attention, built hands-on interactive museum exhibits that delight learners of all ages, and run over 100 workshops to build data culture in newsrooms, non-profits, and libraries. Rahul has collaborated with a wide range of groups, from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil to the St. Paul library system and the World Food Program. His academic work on data literacy, technology, and civic media has been published in journals such as the International Journal of Communication, the Journal of Community Informatics, and Digital Humanities Quarterly. His museum installations have appeared at the Boston Museum of Science, Eyebeam in New York City, and the Tech Interactive in San Jose. Rahul has led workshops and made presentations at meetings such as Data for Black Lives, the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, IIIT New Delhi, the United Nations World Data Forum, TICTeC and the Designing Interactive Systems conference.

Dietmar Offenhuber

Dietmar Offenhuber is Associate Professor at Northeastern University in the departments of Art + Design and Public Policy. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning from MIT, a MS in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab, and a Dipl. Ing. in Architecture from the Technical University Vienna. Dietmar was Key Researcher at the Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute and the Ars Electronica Futurelab and professor in the Interface Culture program of the Art University Linz, Austria.


Created through a collaboration between Northeastern University’s School of Journalism and School of Law, the degree uniquely combines foundations in governmental structures and the legal system with sophisticated training in the latest communication techniques. These include social media, web communications and videography, as well as data analytics and data-driven storytelling.

As today’s organizations – from government entities to nonprofits to large corporations – increasingly understand the ways in which they must effectively communicate in visual, textual and audio forms, they are seeing a substantial need for employees and thought leaders who possess these media skills.

In response, the MS in Media Advocacy equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to apply research-driven strategic communication techniques and multimedia skills in diverse formats. With this inclusive curriculum, graduates will be prepared to directly and indirectly advocate for organizations, ideas and initiatives in a multitude of fields, while also becoming media-empowered citizens in a global, media-driven society.

The MS in Media Advocacy consists of 32 – 36 credit hours. Designed for four semesters of study, the program can be accelerated to be completed in three semesters.

Core Courses

• JRNL 5400 Media Advocacy in Theory and Practice: Examines time-tested and cutting-edge methods for shaping and presenting messages across multimedia platforms to effectively disseminate an organization’s message, change a public conversation, or shift public opinion. The course will examine case studies in mainstream media, public advocacy, and strategic communications to explore the motivations and methods of the organizations as well as the tools and techniques used. Students will also experiment in the practice of digital advocacy by exploring and applying pertinent findings from politics, advertising, and behavioral science that are increasingly employed by professionals looking to “micro-target” voters, “convert” customers, or “nudge” the public. One major component of the course will be hands-on workshops through which students will learn to leverage the latest digital tools for communicating across social media and online platforms.

• JRNL 6305 Research Methods for Media Advocacy: A strong grasp of methodology is the cornerstone of all graduate research study. This course offers an overview of the concepts, methods, and tools for social science research. This course aims to help you become a knowledgeable producer of social science research as you develop skills in gathering, organizing, interpreting and presenting research information using competent and ethically defensible methods.

• LW 7667 Law and Ethics of Advocacy: What limits if any are there and should there be actions aimed at influencing public officials or public opinion?  Clearly, it is unlawful to offer a bribe to a public official to produce a desirable outcome.  Similarly, selling a consumer product with outright falsehoods likely crosses legal lines.  But where exactly should such lines be drawn.  Can a lobbyist send a wedding gift to a favorite legislator?  Can a skin cream seller say its product will make you feel younger?  This course will explore such lines teaching future advocates what sorts of conduct are clearly forbidden, such as campaign contributions from foreign governments, and what types of advocacy might run the risk of running afoul of legal prohibitions.

• LW 6400 Introduction to Law, Policy, and Legal Argument: This course explores the legal levers that drive policy change.  Advocates often intend to alter public policy in ways supportive or favorable to an organization or a cause.  But influencing policy requires understanding of who sets the policy in the first instance.  Is the issue governed by federal, state or local law?  Are key decision makers elected or appointed?  Who is it most important to persuade and what sorts of arguments are likely to be convincing to the key audience?  This course will introduce students to the mechanisms of government that drive key policy debates across a wide range of issues such as health care; market regulation; environmental policy housing, education, and transportation; internet and privacy; and more.  Emphasis will be placed on tailoring arguments most effective with different constituencies.

Sample Journalism Electives

• PR Strategies for Politics, Scandal, and Corporations: More than ever, individuals and organizations – politicians, executives, corporations, non-profits, and government agencies, among others – are facing serious issues and crises that threaten their reputations, driven by social and digital media and a 24/7 news cycle. PR Strategies for Politics, Scandal and Corporations examines the world of crisis management, focusing on the methods public relations professionals use for predicting, preparing for, and responding to situations that can inflict long-lasting reputational harm if not handled properly. The course is taught by Peter Mancusi, a veteran journalist and lawyer, who leads the issues and crisis management practice for the Boston office of Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s largest communications agencies. Peter focuses on how to provide sound counsel before, during and after a reputational crisis, using current news events and well-known case studies. The goal is to provide students with a broad understanding of how crisis management works in daily practice as well as the opportunity to develop skills for analyzing situations and developing communications to respond effectively to controversies.


• JRNL6305 Gender in the Newsroom: For decades, female students have represented the vast majority of journalism majors, but men outnumber women in most professional newsrooms, especially in leadership positions. Gender disparities aren’t unique to journalism, but the paucity of women in newsrooms has negative consequences for society as a whole, making it harder for women to advance in politics, sports and other male-dominated fields. In this class, you’ll explore the many hurdles women journalists must overcome and learn practical strategies to navigate gender politics in modern newsrooms. We’ll also examine how nonbinary and transgender journalists are working to make the profession and society more inclusive, well as the role news organizations play in fueling the #metoo movement and drawing attention to workplace sexual misconduct. Prof. Meg Heckman is a journalist, author and educator focused on building a news ecosystem that is robust, diverse and equipped to serve all segments of society. Her academic work explores the past, present and future of women’s contributions to journalism and civic life. She also brings practical experience to the classroom, drawing on lessons from the more than a decade she spent working as a reporter and digital editor.

Sample Law Electives

• Lab Seminar in Applied Design and Legal Empowerment: This on-the-ground course in the School of Law’s JD program is offered in an intensive format in the early Spring Semester.  This limited enrollment seminar explores the use of design principles in the development of new models for delivering legal information and services. Problem-solving methodologies derived from the fields of product and systems design are being successfully applied in many disciplines, including the law. These methods will be critically examined and applied by students within the context of NuLawLab community projects. Students will join multidisciplinary teams working with communities to collaboratively design responsive solutions to unmet legal needs, using the technological advances currently transforming the legal profession and our larger society. The seminar emphasizes hands-on student engagement with community clients, field observations, and teamwork in partnership with a diversity of other disciplines. Students will be assessed based on contributionsto project work, including class discussions. 


• Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Clinic: This clinic, in conjunction with the law school’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, aims to deepen lawyering skills required for effective civil rights practice, including the identification and formulation of creative remedial approaches, teamwork and organizing ability.  Students learn the dynamics of “cause lawyering” and how to integrate legal doctrine, practice and ethics. With a national docket of cases, students travel to consult with client communities and investigate cases.

Get in touch

Cathy Bright
Graduate Student Enrollment Manager