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"Liberty and the News" (Trailer)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
02m:21s | 1010 views

What is the relationship between media and democracy? What is the role of media, not only in safeguarding rights and informing citizens, but also in transmitting values and stimulating debate, discourse and the enlargement of democratic citizenship? This is a debate that has inspired some of the most interesting – but frequently-neglected scholarship for a period of nearly a century – since a young Walter Lippmann began it in 1919 with the essays that would become his book, “Liberty and the News,” and later engaged John Dewey with his seminal work “Public Opinion” in 1922 – followed by Dewey’s “The Public and Its Problems” in 1927. Today, the economic model for the newspaper is collapsing, and the blogosphere is seeking to replace some of those functions while neglecting others without a clear economic model. It is crucial that our society comes to terms with what will be gained, what will be lost, and what will be needed to allow democracy to function in the brave new world of fewer and smaller newspapers with declining numbers of readers engaging in fewer and fewer acts of knowledgeable civil discourse. Drawing on his own writing and research, along with those of Lippmann, Dewey, and contemporary thinkers like Neil Postman and Jurgen Habermas, Eric Alterman will investigate the political and cultural landscape of post- newspaper America.

Dr. Eric Alterman has been a Professor of English at Brooklyn College since the fall of 2004 where he teaches courses in journalism. In 2007, he was named a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College and Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, as well as Media Matters for America, which currently hosts his blog “Altercation”, and at the World Policy Institute. His academic expertise is American history. He has been an historical consultant for HBO films.

An author of seven books, including national bestsellers, he is perhaps best known for his media criticism, which is the subject of two of his books. His new book is about the history of Liberalism and the various ways in which the word “liberal” has been unfairly maligned in contemporary discussion. His most recent book, Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America was published in March 2008. Dr. Alterman writes a political column “The Liberal Media” for The Nation and a weekly column for the Center for American Progress.

He earned his B.A. in History and Government from Cornell University, an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from Stanford University.

Presenter: Dr. Eric Alterman