Christopher Ali / Media Studies

Media policy is all too often the forgotten cousin of public policy. But without the media no other policy decision can be communicated. This is the message that I tell my students on day one of my media policy and law course – a third year survey course taught to introduce 110 students per semester to the world of media policy. Throughout the semester we cover everything from net neutrality, to local television, privacy, surveillance, copyright, and starting this semester, fake news.

Repeatedly, my students ask for more “real world” policy experience, as so many of UVA’s talented undergraduates are interested in pursuing a career in public policy. It’s difficult to accommodate these requests in a class of 110 students, so my Dream Idea is in service to my students and an attempt to make policy more relevant, exciting, and dare I say, “sexy.”

My Dream Idea is to launch a monthly meeting of students and policymakers that I am calling “Pizza and Policy.” The aim is to invite policymakers, activists, stakeholders, and media policy thinkers to UVA to meet with a small group of students (maximum 10) on a specific topic over lunch. The topic will be chosen by the speaker, and any materials they request the students consult before the meeting (books, white papers, etc.) will be provided through the grant. It is my hope to start a dialogue between the media policy community located in Washington and our students in Charlottesville, and to communicate the vital importance of knowing the mechanisms that undergird our media system. Pizza and Policy will be open to any student who wishes to attend, and I will make particular effort to partner with the Batten School in hopes of forging a lasting relationship between the school and the Department of Media Studies.

We will host two meetings per semester. At the end of the academic year, the five students who attended the most meetings will be invited to join me in Washington D.C. to participate in an FCC hearing. The students will not only get to meet with policymakers and members of the media policy community, but they will be able to participate in the policymaking process.


4 meetings of policy and pizza: ($2400)

-       Food ($200 x 4 = $800)

-       Reading materials ($100 x 4 = $400)

-       Travel costs/hotel for invited guests ($300 x 4 = 1200)

Travel to Washington D.C. ($600)

-       Transportation Costs for 5 students plus myself on Amtrak ($70 x 5 = $350)

-       Food ($200)

-       Reading materials ($50)