Armed, illegal non-state actors control small but important sectors of both Brazil and Colombia. In these two countries, traffickers and large gangs concentrated in urban (and, in Colombia’s case, also rural) areas clash heavily with state security forces, dominate significant numbers of the urban poor, and play a large, threatening role in the public’s imagination. Some vital research has been done on the political and sociological dynamics within the zones controlled by these actors, but there is less in the literature that deals with the specific activities of community media and their relations with the ruling gangs and with local residents. This dissertation focuses on two community media groups, one in Bogotá, and one in Rio de Janeiro, both of which operate in informal urban slums controlled by gangs. It argues that in both cases these groups provide some checks to manifestations of authoritarian aggression, the infliction of arbitrary violence on residents and the climate of fear promulgated by the armed actors in these communities. These community media groups are able to do this by capitalizing on community resistance, by building informal relations and networks with gang membership, and by mobilizing notions of political legitimacy.