A professor at Edinburgh Napier University, he is known for his teachings and writings on the topics of alternative media and media ethics. His scholarly publications include Alternative Journalism (2008) and Alternative Media (2002).
He received Master's degrees in both Mass Communications (from the University of Leicester) and Latin Studies (from the University of Edinburgh). He went on to work as a librarian and a translator of Latin texts.
His publications include Writing about Listening: Alternative Discourses in Rock Journalism (2009) and An Alternative Internet (2004).
He was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, England. He married Susan Jarvis-Atton.
He and Canadian author Marshall McLuhan both wrote, theorized, and taught on the topic of mass media.