Thursday, December 14, 2006

More than a year ago lefty webzine Third Coast Press -- along with several members of Chicago Media Action and the local peace and justice movement-- challenged the licenses of every TV station in the Chicago market. Their petition to the FCC cited the stations' failure to adequately cover the debate over the war in Iraq and their chronic lack of attention to the city's African American, Latino and working class residents. Today, the FCC finally did what we always predicted they would do: they rejected the TCP petition. Indeed, those of us in the media reform/media democracy movement would have been shocked had that corrupt and venal agency actually done the right thing and launched further inquiries into TCP's complaints.

But this is not the end of this issue. Far from it. If the FCC had accepted the TCP petition, they would have had to hold a public hearing -- in Chicago-- about the stations' performance and their service to the public interest . Well, I can tell you that plans are already afoot to hold a public hearing, or perhaps even a series of public hearings, without the sanction of Bush's FCC. Chicago's TV broadcasters will not be able to escape public, democratic accountability so easily....

FCC Rejects Call for Chicago Stations' License Denial

By Ira Teinowitz

The Federal Communications Commission today rejected Third Coast Press' attempt to halt the license renewal of all 18 Chicago market TV stations, saying the progressive newspaper didn't prove its charge that the stations have been "systematically negligent" in serving the public service.
Read the whole story here:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Urban Communication Foundation

Press Release

23 October 2006

The Urban Communication Foundation announces the recipients of

the 2006 Jane Jacobs Publication Award.

First Prize: Urban Nightmares: The Media and the Moral Panic over the City by Steve Macek (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

The University of Minnesota describes Urban Nightmares:

For the past twenty-five years, American culture has been marked by an almost palpable sense of anxiety about the nation's inner cities. Urban America has been consistently depicted as a site of moral decay and uncontrollable violence, held in stark contrast to the allegedly moral and orderly suburbs and exurbs.

In Urban Nightmares, Steve Macek documents the scope of these alarmist representations of the city, examines the ideologies that informed them, and exposes the interests they ultimately served. From exploring the conservative analysis of the urban poverty, joblessness, and crime that became entrenched during the post-Vietnam War era to how Hollywood filmmakers, advertisers, and journalists validate the right-wing discourse on the urban crisis, popularizing its vocabulary, Macek takes a hard-hitting look at the role of right-wing ideologues and the mass media in demonizing urban America.

The UCF Jane Jacobs Awards Committee in announcing its choice noted:

Steve Macek weaves a range of rich examples (from government reports to popular film to newspaper accounts) in an effort to show how public opinions have been formed about the inner city and the people who live there. The book challenges our preconceived notions of urban life and challenges us to re-think how we represent others and how we accept and/or reject representations put forth by public officials and mass media. The book is an outstanding representation of urban communication scholarship.

This recognition carries with it a $1500 award that will be presented at the Urban Communication Foundation reception at the National Communication Associations’ Annual meeting in San Antonio on Thursday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Second Prize: More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell by Jane Golden, Robin Rice, and Natalie Pompilio. With Photographs by David Graham and Jack Ramsdale (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006). In their description of this volume Temple University Press said

More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell continues the remarkable
story of an unlikely artistic collaboration that began as part of
Philadelphia's Anti-Graffiti Network. In June 1984, Jane Golden, a young
muralist headed up a project that was originally planned as a six-week youth
program in the fledgling Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network. This small
exercise in fighting graffiti grew into the Philadelphia Murals Arts Program
(MAP), one of the most vibrant public art projects in the United States. Two
decades later, MAP is now partnering with the criminal justice system, the
Department of Human Services, and the Philadelphia School District to work
with students in public schools who have truancy issues or criminal records.
This collaboration has helped bolster the ways in which public art helps
transform lives-one of the goals of MAP

The UCF Jane Jacobs Awards Committee in citing this work stated:

Philadelphia Murals: More Philadelphia Mural and the Stories They Tell describes and shows how art and community building can be interconnected. The murals discussed in this book and presented through beautiful photographs are representations of efforts made by artists and everyday people to communicate pride and joy, hopes and fears, and to protest injustice in a fashion that simultaneously reflects on-going public conversations and helps shape those conversations. The author's discussion and description of the Philadelphia murals foregrounds the mural as a communal communicative artifact.

This recognition is accompanied by a monetary award of $500 and will be presented at the Urban Communication Foundation reception on Thursday, November 16 at the National Communication Association’s annual meeting in San Antonio at 6:30 p.m.

6 Fourth Road

Great Neck, New York 11021-1506

Tel: 516.466.0136 Fax: 516.466.1782

Mobile: 516.567.9220 e-mail:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

“Black Writing” and “Urban Nightmares” authors to hold book-signing

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Oct. 18, 2006) — North Central faculty authors and Naperville residents, Richard Guzman, professor of English, and Steve Macek, assistant professor of speech communication, will hold a joint book talk and signing on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend this free event at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 47 E. Chicago Ave., where the authors will read excerpts, followed by a discussion and signing.

Guzman will discuss his newest book, “Black Writing from Chicago: In the World, Not of It?” The book combines poems, stories, memoirs, analysis, newspaper writing and radio drama, taking readers on a fascinating literary journey through Chicago’s rich cultural history. He collected the literature of more than 60 Black authors representing the 19th century through current day. “[It’s] a book of great importance and a sheer delight to read,” says Carolyn Rodgers, a poet and National Book Award nominee.

Macek’s “Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right and the Moral Panic Over the City” explores alarmist representations of the inner city and the urban poor created by the media, intellectuals and mainstream politicians. He analyzes Hollywood film, advertisements and television news in an attempt to find the sources of the negative perceptions of urban areas. One reviewer called the book’s approach “. . . a refreshing change of pace . . . in our current political environment.”

In addition, on Saturday, Oct. 21, Macek will be speaking about his book at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison, Wis. For more information:

Guzman may be reached at or 630-637-5280 and Macek may be reached at or 630-637-5369.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ok. So it has been a good two or even three months since I've posted anything to this blog. And I've got lots and lots of issues I want to sound off about when I manage to find the time (the Kevin Barrett episode and the future of academic freedom, for one). For the time being, though, I just want to point out that a number of media policy battles that will have a profound impact on the future shape of the communication landscape have been heating up this August and, though the forces of democracy and the common good stand a decent chance of winning in each case, disaster is still not out of the question.

First of all, there is the on-going battle to insert some sort of protection for the principal of Internet "network neutrality" into the omnibus telecommunications legislation that has passed the House and is now under consideration in the Senate. As Mitchell Szczepanczyk and I detail in an op-ed we wrote for the Illinois Editorial Forum (that was published initially in La Raza), if the big telecomm companies (Comcast, ATT, etc.) get their way, they'll be allowed to grant preferential treatment to their own web-based services (streaming video, long distance telephony, etc.) and to those customers willing to pay for the privledge and will be more or less allowed to block or stifle their competitors.

Second, the same bill that is poised to destroy the Internet will also do immesurable damage to cable access TV (which is the one place on TV that most people can have a chance to see truly radical programming, like "Labor Beat" or the nationally syndicated "Democracy Now"). Essentially, it will reduse the funding base for cable access stations AND limit their future growth by fixing the number of channels set allocated for public access at its current (l980s, pre-digital) levels. Mitchell Szczepanczyk and I have written about this in yet another op-ed syndicated by the Illinois Editorial Forum; this one was published first in the Rock River Times.

Finally, the FCC has at long decided to revist its broadcast ownership rules for the first time since a groundswell of opposition forced it to back off of its proposed deregulation back in 2003. As Scott Sanders details in his July 24th post on the Chicago Media Action website:

Just a few hours ago, the 3-2 Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on broadcast ownership and broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership. At last, here is the required followup to the broadly rejected 2003 attempt under the agency's former chair Michael Powell (son of Colin) to eliminate virtually all remaining broadcast ownership rules. Those proposed rule changes were ultimately discarded by the courts and the Senate too. According to Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein's mostly dissenting response, we may be heading in the direction of another fiasco similar to the one in 2003...

The public has until Friday September 22nd to file comments with the FCC.

In any case, I strongly encourage everyone out there in the blogosphere to weigh in on each of these issues. The most important thing people can do about net neutrality and cable access at this point is contact their U.S. Senators and demand they take a stand in favor of a democratic media system by protecting current levels of funding for cable access TV and passing legislation that ensures a "neutral" internet free of corporate censorship and control. And in the case of media ownership regulations, it is vital not only to file comments with the FCC but to prepare for protests and other forms of popular pressure in the likely even that the Republican-dominated FCC once again ignores the public will.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Out this month on U of MN Press, finally, at long last, my first book:

Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right and the Moral Panic over the City. ISBN 0-8166-4361-X.

Click on the cover at left for more information.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And I've got another book coming out this year, on Peter Lang, about Marxism and Communication Studies. When it rains, it pours...
Giant Corporations Attack Net Freedom!
The big telecom giants are pressuring Congress to destroy the Internet as we know it. If they get their way, they'll be able to use their control over our access to the net to steer us all to their content and software and services and freeze out everything else. Read more about it here:

To do something about it, go here:

If you care at all about the future of freedom on the net, act now.

Monday, January 30, 2006

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia warns of "unprecedented jobs crisis"Wednesday 25 January 2006 (ILO/06/02)DAVOS, Switzerland (ILO News) - The world is facing an "unprecedented globaljobs crisis of mammoth proportions", the Director-General of theInternational Labour Organization (ILO) said today in a statement issued forthe annual World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place here.ILO Director-General Juan Somavia hailed the decision of the WEF to place onits 2006 agenda an item on creating future jobs, and urged the world's topbusiness and government leaders attending the Forum to consider urgent stepsfor tackling a worsening global jobs situation. (...)The ILO Director-General said the global jobs crisis was illustrated by anumber of factors:* Half of all the workers in the world - some 1.4 billion working poor -currently live in families that survive on less than US$2 a day per person.They work in the vast informal sector - from farms to fishing, fromagriculture to urban alleyways - without benefits, social security or healthcare.*Unemployment in terms of actual people out of work is at its highest pointever and continues to rise. In the last ten years, official unemployment hasgrown by more than 25 per cent and now stands at nearly 192 millionworldwide, or about 6 per cent of the global workforce.*Of these unemployed, the ILO estimates that 86 million, or about half theglobal total, are young people aged 15 to 24.*When people cannot find work at home in their communities and societiesthey look elsewhere. In the present environment, labour migration easilybecomes a source of tension, not to speak of trafficking and other similaractivities.Complete text at

Monday, January 09, 2006


AFSC Says Surveillance of Peace Groups is "Outrageous"

PHILADELPHIA - An organization at the forefront of combating illegal FBI surveillance tactics in the seventies now urges Congress to undertake a complete and thorough review of reports that the Pentagon is spying on "peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups."

Calling it a "new McCarthyism," the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) also likened the troublesome revelation to the notorious COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program - the covert FBI project aimed at undercutting Vietnam anti-war organizing and the civil rights movement. COINTELPRO was publicly unmasked through congressional hearings in 1975, leading to stronger congressional oversight of federal law enforcement. Many of the protections instituted then have been eroded in recent years under the USA PATRIOT Act and other domestic surveillance activities authorized by the President. Concerned Americans are encouraged to write their Congressional representatives in Washington.

"Clearly the constitutional right of free speech and peaceful assembly is not a criminal offense," states Mary Ellen McNish, general secretary of AFSC, an international social justice organization and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. "It's an outrage."

Early last week, NBC reported the existence of a secret Department of Defense (DOD) database related to "potential terrorist threats." One example of identified "threats" is a group in Lake Worth, Florida that included five Quakers and a 79-year old grandmother who met at their local Quaker meeting house to discuss how to protest military recruiting at an area high school. Other examples of "threatening" events in the database included handing out literature in front of military recruiting stations and commemorating the second anniversary of the Iraq War.

At least four of the events listed were activities coordinated or supported by AFSC.

The report by NBC News was followed last Friday by a story in the New York Times that President Bush has secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the U.S. without court-approved warrants. The President and the DOD now admit they've been spying on thousands of people in this country for simply exercising their constitutional rights.

Additionally, the ACLU recently released documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that show the FBI 'Joint Terrorism Task Force' is recording the names and license plate numbers of peaceful protesters.

"We must not forget that it was not so long ago that COINTELPRO was infiltrating student groups illegally and plotting against 'radical' activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," states Joyce Miller, AFSC assistant general secretary for justice and human rights. "We must take action now to see that history doesn't repeat itself."

"This new wave of spying can only be seen as a threat to our constitutional rights to free speech and the freedom of assembly," McNish adds. "We have a fundamental right to speak our minds and organize on the issues of the day."

Recently AFSC legally challenged similar surveillance activities in Denver, Colorado, Chicago and other communities.

"In Denver, the courts agreed with us then that spying, not free speech, is a threat, as they did during the Vietnam War, when we helped win guarantees that our military will not spy on Americans," McNish observes.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, AFSC secured hundreds of federal files detailing government surveillance projects and intelligence documents targeting U.S. peace groups in the early 70s. Public exposure of the Pentagon papers, FBI files and other documents gave a glimpse of the vast extent of surveillance, record keeping and disruptive (and sometimes lethal) activity carried on by government intelligence agencies, from the CIA and FBI down to local police against large numbers of American citizens.

"It is imperative that we uphold the Bill of Rights and not trample the very principles upon which our country was founded, especially now - when war rages on in Iraq, and anxiety about terrorism causes fear and suspicion of our fellow citizens," McNish commented. "This is the great lesson learned from the mistakes of World War II and the unjust internment of our Japanese neighbors and fellow citizens."

Historically, members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have been known for 'speaking truth to power,' hence becoming the subject of suspicion and at times violence because of their pacifism. Friends have worked to assist runaway slaves and have been prominent in the civil rights movement. The American Friends Service Committee, along with the British Friends Service Council, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the humanitarian work of Quakers during and after World Wars I and II. With national headquarters in Philadelphia, AFSC has offices across the United States and in 22 countries of the world working for peace, indigenous and immigrant rights and a host of social and economic justice issues.

For more information, including ways to write Congressional representatives to vocalize concerns about government spying, visit the AFSC web at

# # #

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.