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Assistant Professor, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia

Dr. Christopher Ali is an Assistant Professor in Department of Media Studies. He joined the Department in the fall of 2013, after completing his PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds degrees from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada – MA in Media Studies) and the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada – BA in Film & Media Studies and Sociology).

His research interests focus on communication policy and regulation, critical political economy, critical geography, comparative media systems, localism, and local news. He has published in numerous internationally ranked academic journals including.

His new book, Media Localism: The Policies of Place (University of Illinois Press, 2017) addresses the difficulties of defining and regulating local media in the 21st century in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada and the implications these difficulties have for the long-term viability of local news. This is the first book to investigate local media policy in a comparative context (US, UK, Canada), and the first to systematically assess media localism in Canada and the UK (it also updates the work on localism done in the US). It combines policy analysis and critical theory to provide for a unique perspective on one of the most challenging policy questions in the media industry: what does it mean to be local?

Christopher’s first book, Echoes of Gabriel Tarde: What we know better or different 100 years later was published by the USC Annenberg Press in 2014. Written with Elihu Katz and Joohan Kim, the book prefigures Gabriel Tarde as a founder of communication studies and traces his lineage in fields such as political communication, deliberative democracy, the diffusion of information, imagined communities, and the sociology of news.

Christopher has worked for the Federal Communications Commission, submitted research for the Swiss Office of Communication, consulted with the South Korean Committee on the Impact of Media Concentration, and was part of a consortium of researchers, activists, and practitioners intervening at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regarding community and local media. In 2015 Christopher held the inaugural Gressly-Fleck visiting scholar fellowship in the Department for Communication and Media Research at the University of Fribourg, in Fribourg, Switzerland.

Currently, Christopher is a Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, researching how small market newspapers are adapting to the new realities of digital technologies.

Christopher is also a Fellow with the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communications at the University of Pennsylvania working on a new book project entitled: Farm Fresh Spectrum: Rural Interventions in Media Policy. This will be an investigation into the relationship between farming communities and communication policy in North America.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor of Media Policy, Law & Regulation, University of Virginia
  • 2016–2017
    Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism
  • 2017–2017
    Fellow, Center for Advanced Research in Global Communications


  • 2013 
    Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania , PhD - Communication Studies
  • 2011 
    Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, MA - Communication Studies
  • 2009 
    Concordia University, MA - Media Studies
  • 2005 
    University of Alberta, BA - Film/Media Studies and Sociology


  • 2017
    Media Localism: The Policies of Place, University of Illinois Press
  • 2014
    Echoes of Gabriel Tarde: What We Know Better or Different 100 Years Later, USC Annenberg Press

Grants and Contracts

  • 2016
    Tow Center for Digital Journalism
    Primary Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Tow Center/Knight Foundation