Rampton was born in Long Beach, California. At the age of three, his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where his father worked as a musician. Raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), he spent two years in Japan as a Latter-day Saint (LDS) missionary from 1976 to 1978. Upon returning to the United States, however, he left the LDS Church, influenced in part by Mormon feminist Sonia Johnson.
As an undergraduate student at Princeton University, Rampton studied writing under Joyce Carol Oates, E.L. Doctorow and John McPhee. Upon graduation in 1982, Rampton worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming a peace activist. During the 1980s and 1990s, he worked closely with the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua (WCCN), which opposed the Reagan administration's military interventions in Central America and works to promote economic development, human rights, and mutual friendship between the people of the United States and Nicaragua. At WCCN, Rampton helped establish the Nicaraguan Credit Alternatives Fund (NICA Fund) in 1992, which channels loans from socially concerned US investors to support microcredit and other "alternative credit" programs in Nicaragua.
In 1995, Rampton teamed with John Stauber as co-editors of PR Watch, a publication of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Defenders of the public relations industry regard their writings as one-sided and hostile. ActivistCash.com, a website hosted by Washington lobbyist Rick Berman, has castigated them as "self-anointed watchdogs," "scare-mongers," "reckless" and "left-leaning." In their own profile of ActivistCash.com, however, Rampton and Stauber have stated that the ActivistCash critique contains a number of "demonstrably false claims."
Rampton is also a contributor for the open content encyclopedia project called Wikipedia and was the person who coined the name "Wikimedia" which later became the name of the foundation that manages Wikipedia and its sister projects. Inspired by Wikipedia's collaborative writing model, Rampton founded Disinfopedia, another CMD project, to complement his PR Watch work to expose deceptive and misleading public relations campaigns.
Writings by Rampton