Office location and address
MA, University of Pennsylvania, 2011
MA, Concordia University (Montreal), 2009
BA, University of Alberta, 2006
Dr. Christopher Ali is an Associate 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. His research interests include: communication policy and regulation, rural broadband, critical political economy, critical geography, comparative media systems, media localism, and local news.
Christopher’s current research focuses on broadband policy and deployment in the United States, specifically in rural areas. His forthcoming book, Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity (MIT Press, 2021), examines the complicated terrain of rural broadband policy in the US. Farm Fresh unpacks the politics of broadband policy, asking why millions of rural Americans lack broadband access and why the federal government, and large providers, are not doing more to connect the unconnected.
Currently, Christopher is involved in two major research projects. The first, with Hilde van Den Bulck of Drexel University and funded by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, asks why Americans trust PBS more than any other public institution. His second project examines the role of Virginia counties in broadband deployment, planning and policy.
Christopher has published in numerous internationally ranked academic journals including: Communication Theory, Media Culture & Society and Telecommunications Policy. His most recent article, which examines the failure of broadband policy at the Federal Communications Commission was published in the International Journal of Communication in 2020. Christopher’s work has been published in The New York Times, The Hill, and Realtor Magazineon broadband policy, and he is a frequent commentator on the subjects of broadband, media policy, and local news, with interviews in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, NPR, CNET, CBC, Bloomberg, and other major national and international news outlets.
In April 2021, Christopher testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on a hearing about federal broadband policies. He has also briefed members of Congress on his research - presenting to the House Democrats House Task Force on Rural Broadband. In addition, he has presented before various state governments and initiatives, including the New York State Blue Ribbon Commission on Re-Imagining New York, and the governors’ offices of Illinois and Virginia.
Christopher’s first 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 and the first to systematically assess media localism in Canada and the UK. 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 is currently a Knight News Innovation Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. He is also the Vice Chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communication Association. Previously, he held fellowships at the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society (2019-2020), the Global Future Council of the World Economic Forum (2018), the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communications (CARGC) at the University of Pennsylvania (2017), the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University (2016-2017) and the University of Fribourg in Fribourg Switzerland (2015).
Knight News Innovation Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University
Faculty Fellow, Benton Institute for Internet & Society
Fellow, Global Futures Council, World Economic Forum
Fellow, Center for Advanced Research in Global Communications, University of Pennsylvania
Fellow, Universite de Fribourg (Switzerland)