Friday, February 28, 2014
Portrait of Robert McChesney
Robert McChesney. Photo courtesy of L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Prominent media activist Robert McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed professor at the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will deliver the 2014 Li Chen lecture for the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) on Monday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. in W128 Chemistry Building. The lecture is free and open to the public.

McChesney’s talk is titled "The Crisis of Democracy is a Crisis of Journalism: They Had a Past, But Do They Have a Future?"

He will discuss the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies and examine the relationship between the closure of newsrooms and the dearth of media coverage of public life.

“We have to look to our past for an independent, uncensored newsroom,” McChesney says. “That’s the biggest challenge of our times in media and communication. We need good journalism.”

UI journalism associate professor and Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Berry says McChesney makes longtime journalists like himself think self-critically about journalistic conventions that journalists tend to accept by rote. Until Berry read McChesney’s and John Nichols’s book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, he says he would have dismissed the notion of government lending a hand to ailing news organizations.

“The authors make a strong and thought-provoking case, as they do for many other ideas they introduce,” Berry says. “That’s precisely why students, journalists, and citizens will want hear McChesney—he will make them think, question cherished notions, and consider new ideas.”

McChesney has written or edited 27 books, including Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America, which he co-authored with John Nichols; and Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Away from Democracy. He has also written more than 100 journal articles, 150 book chapters, and another 350 newspaper pieces, magazine articles, and book reviews. From 2002–12, he hosted the “Media Matters” weekly radio program every Sunday afternoon on WILL-AM radio.

The Li Chen Distinguished Lecture series is made possible by a gift to the UI Foundation. Li Chen lecturers must be working journalists or media scholars and must, in addition to presenting a public lecture at the UI, visit SJMC classes and meet with graduate students and faculty in the department.

For more about Robert McChesney, visit this website or listen to SJMC graduate student David Schwartz interview him about Digital Disconnect.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact the School of Journalism and Mass Communication in advance at 319-335-3486.