In 2002, leaders from We Interrupt This Message and Race Forward (formerly the Applied Research Center) launched the Youth Media Council (YMC) to counter media bias against California’s youth and people of color. As the project grew, it expanded to address inequities in media access and coverage in diverse communities by collaborating with local social justice groups nationwide. With technical support from the Movement Strategy Center, YMC staff organized these groups into the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), and evolved to become the Center for Media Justice (CMJ). Launched in 2008, CMJ is now a nationally recognized organizing hub representing the media policy interests and building the cultural leadership of hundreds of social justice groups across the United States. Their mission is to create media and cultural conditions that strengthen movements for racial justice, economic equity, and human rights.
To achieve their goals, CMJ deploys the CultureSHIFT Strategy - an intersectional approach to democratizing culture and communications through powerful grassroots leadership. First, they coalesce the political power of constituency-based groups for regulatory media change through the Media Action Grassroots Network. Second, they deliver the publications, workshops, and convening of the CultureSHIFT Institute to ensure social justice movements can integrate powerful strategies for media rights, access, and representation into frontline fights for racial and economic justice. Their programs are designed to build long-term progressive movement infrastructure while bringing collective assets and research to bear on immediate political issues.
With a primary office in Oakland, CA, CMJ brings a racial justice lens and breakthrough cultural approaches to a national and cross-sector base of grassroots leaders, civil rights allies, and public interest partners. Today, CMJ is a recognized leader in leveraging constituency, cultural, and communications strategies for media rights, access, and representation.
Media Justice is a long-term vision to democratize the economy, government, and society through policies and practices that ensure: democratic media ownership, fundamental communication rights; universal media and technology access, and meaningful, accurate representation within news and popular culture for everyone.
Media Justice has been achieved when the media and cultural environment results in connected communities, fair economies, racial justice and human rights for all people, and lifts up the voices of communities of color, low-income families, low-wage workers, LGBT communities, women, and all those whose voices are raised, but remain unheard.
Their mission is to build a powerful movement for a more just and participatory media and digital world—with racial equity and human rights for all.
Social Justice Approach
At the Center for Media Justice, home of the Media Action Grassroots Network, they believe that the right to communicate belongs to everyone. When they oppose media consolidation, they take a stand for the rights of workers whose jobs are being eliminated by corporate mergers, and for working families forced to pay more for reduced services. When they fight for media representation, they counter the stereotypes that help regressive policies flourish, and win better coverage of the communities and issues. Community ownership of media infrastructure leads to robust local economies and stronger, more engaged communities. When they hold those in power accountable for their rights in a digital age, they counter the surveillance used to cripple the communities and campaigns. For these reasons, and many more, they organize under-represented constituencies for media rights, access, and representation to win social and economic justice.
Where is The Center for Media Justice (CMJ)