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One wouldn’t think a half-hour public-access TV program featuring an elderly man sitting on a New York subway with a friend and reading through the New York Times would be a particularly exciting bit of television. But in the 1980’s pioneering communications professor Herb Schiller, Ph.D. filmed a series of shows where he did just that — and they’ve become so legendary in the field of progressive media studies that when one of them was shown at a tribute event May 25, sponsored by Schiller’s former colleague DeeDee Halleck and the San Diego Independent Media Center, it was the sensation of the evening and the available videotapes of it sold out. (article 1)

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC
Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

Herb Schiller Tribute May 25 Raises Nearly $1,000 for San Diego IMC

by MARK GABRISH CONLAN
Copyright © 2003 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • Used by permission

One wouldn’t think a half-hour public-access TV program featuring an elderly man sitting on a New York subway with a friend and reading through the New York Times would be a particularly exciting bit of television. But in the 1980’s pioneering communications professor Herb Schiller, Ph.D. filmed a series of shows where he did just that — and they’ve become so legendary in the field of progressive media studies that when one of them was shown at a tribute event May 25, sponsored by Schiller’s former colleague DeeDee Halleck and the San Diego Independent Media Center, it was the sensation of the evening and the available videotapes of it sold out.

Held in conjunction with the International Communications Association (ICA) conference at the San Diego Convention Center downtown, the May 25 event featured a wide variety of events. The late Dr. Schiller’s widow Anita was introduced and received a floral tribute from Halleck. Various people who had known and worked with Dr. Schiller, including Dutch media professor Cees Hanlick and Doug Kellner, author of the book Grand Theft about the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election, were introduced and gave reminiscences.

The event also opened with a report on OUR Media/NUESTROS Medios, an international media activist group which recently held a conference in Barranquilla, Colombia to plan for a progressive presence at the World Summit for the Information Society to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003 (with a follow-up meeting in 2004 in Togo). “The consensus was to try to elbow our way into the space and participate,” OUR Media founder Clemencia Rodriguez explained.

“The consensus in Barranquilla is even if not much happens at the summit, what happens from now to December in each nation-state will be crucial,” Rodriguez said. “People are organizing and having intense debates around the summit and the right to communicate.” She called on attendees to “get involved in each locality and send a message from the media and communications movements to environmentalists, feminists, ethnic minorities and indigenous people, and get them to incorporate the demand for a right to communicate in their own work.”

Susana Kaiser, who also attended the Colombia conference, reported on meetings with local community radio station operators. “The questions they asked included how do you know who’s listening and how do you cover costs,” she said. “We felt that we as academics should be doing this research, including lobbying governments and drafting laws. So we’re going to set up a Web site to do this research.” [The site she was talking about doesn’t exist yet but the papers from the previous two OUR Media conferences in Washington, D.C. in 2001 and Barcelona in 2002 are available at www.ourmedianet.org and the 2003 conference papers will be posted to that site soon.]

Author Kellner paid tribute to Dr. Schiller as “the first [academic] to talk about the media as a tool of American imperialism, and how studying the reach of the American media was important as a part of communications studies. Herb laid down an agenda of research for my generation.” Kellner said the most important thing about Dr. Schiller was he ignored fashionable “deconstructionist” critiques and instead focused on what major media outlets like the New York Times actually said in plain words and how that content served the interests of the media companies themselves and the rest of corporate capitalism of which they are increasingly an integral part.

“Herb lived to see the era of conglomerates merging and he wasn’t afraid to say, ‘Follow the money,’” Kellner recalled. “I don’t think he could have foreseen how Right-wing the Fox network in particular would be and how blatant it is in promoting American imperialism. … The mainstream media are more and more instruments of propaganda and capitalist domination. If we want any enlightenment and social change it has to come through our own media. We have to critique the [content of] mainstream media as propaganda and ideology.”

Hanlick recalled that he and Dr. Schiller agreed on virtually every point they ever discussed except one: “Herb felt I tended to be too much of a romantic activist, running around with too many movements. He thought we had to work with progressive governments and the United Nations. I felt we had to be active and mobilize the people. … Today I’d probably concede that I didn’t accomplish much in those romantic socialist movements — and he’d probably concede that those other paths didn’t work either.”

The event also featured book introductions and signings by Halleck [Hand-Held Visions: The Impossible Possibilities of Community Media] and Rick Goldfarb [Visual Pedagogy: Media Cultures In and Beyond the Classroom — a considerably more interesting and less “academic” book than its title and the excerpt Goldfarb read at the event made it sound] and a performance by San Diego’s local satirical political folk-singing duo, the Prince Myshkins. A no-host buffet was provided by Miguel Martin and other volunteers with the San Diego IMC, and between food sales, book sales and other donations, the event raised nearly $1,000.


- e-mail:: mgconlan@earthlink.net
Homepage:: http://www.ourmedianet.org


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Thank you

30.09.2004 16:02


thank you for doing this wonderful event. as a friend of Herb, I find this kind of event helps to spread his revolutionary ideas that contain more and more importance as the media grows ever more untruthful and biased. Thank you again.

Z





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