Lewis Friedland

Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor



Lewis Friedland headshot

Lewis A. Friedland is a professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication and an affiliated professor in the Department of Sociology.  He founded and directs the Center for Communication and Democracy. His research and teaching centers on civic and citizen journalism, communication and society, communication research methods, international news reporting, and civil society and public life.

His publications include three books: Public Journalism: Past and Future (Kettering Foundation Press: 2003); Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy and the Movement for Civic Renewal, with Carmen Sirianni (University of California Press: 2001); and Covering the World: International Television News Services (Twentieth Century Fund Press: 1993). These interests are reflected in his teaching, which includes J401: In-Depth Reporting,; J561: Mass Communication and Society; J805: Communication Research Methods; J806: Conceptualization and Design of Mass Communication Research; J870: Mass Communication and Societal Institutions; J970 Mass Communication and Societal Institutions; J980: Special Topics in Mass Communication (Communication and the Public Sphere, joint with sociology).

Friedland’s research has been supported by major foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Knight Foundation, the Kettering Foundation, the Center for Information on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), and others. His current research is in three major areas: youth civic engagement and the lifeworld of young people; community media ecologies and civic and public life; and the theory of communicative action.

Friedland has been an active experimenter in the use of new communication technologies and the public sphere. In 1993, he was the principal investigator and publisher of ONline Wisconsin, one of the first multimedia journals on the Internet. As research director and editor of the Civic Practices Network, with Carmen Sirianni, he developed one of the first civic portals on the Internet in 1994.

He is a consultant to Wisconsin Public Television for news and public affairs. His documentary productions have won du Pont-Columbia, Emmy, Society for Professional Journalists and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold awards. Before joining the UW-Madison faculty, Friedland was executive producer at the CBS affiliate in Milwaukee, and a news and documentary producer at the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, and he was a visiting graduate lecturer in sociology at the University of California-Berkeley.

Friedland earned a B.A. in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1985. Friedland joined UW-Madison in 1991, was promoted to associate professor in 1997, and professor in 2002.