The University of Chicago News Office
May 12, 2004 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

It's the Media, Stupid! Nichols to replace Hersh, address the crisis in journalism and politics

john nichols
John Nichols

John Nichols, the Nation's Washington correspondent, who focuses on election coverage both in the U.S. and internationally, will give the keynote address at the University of Chicago's media conference this Friday. He will replace Seymour Hersh, who cancelled his appearance due to a late breaking story. Gretchen Soderlund, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Mellon Fellow in Communication & Society, said that "Nichols is a working journalist with a keen understanding of the forces that shape the news, our elections, and so ultimately world history. He also has a powerful vision of what journalism can be, and how it can be changed."

As citizens we rely on the news when deciding about our lives and our leaders, but we rarely think about how that news is made. Constru(ct)ing the Current: Theorizing Media in a New Millennium will explore this question, asking why the media consider certain events significant, worthy of sustained coverage and commentary, while others generate little attention:  What makes something a newsworthy event? Beginning with the assumption that 'news' is not a natural phenomenon but the product of selection and representation, this two-day symposium brings scholars together in an effort to understand the social processes through which news comes into being.  Looking across different types of media, panelists will examine how news institutions construct and construe happenings as significant events, trends, and facts about the world.  Scholars of society, law and communications, including Chicago's Cass Sunstein and North Carolina's Robert Entman will discuss topics including:

  • Blogging and partisanship in journalism
  • Al-Jazeera and the “Arab Street”
  • Journalism, nationalism, and war
  • Public opinion and the creation of consensus
  • The politics of crime coverage and the “televising of fear”
  • The history of terrorism in the media

The event will be held at the International House, 1414 E. 59th St.; the public is invited and admission is free. A schedule is attached. For more information, please contact Brian Schwegler ( Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the office of Programs and Special Events at International House at 773-753-2274 in advance.

The conference was made possible by the Political Communications Initiative, with the support of the International House Global Voices Program, the Division of the Humanities, the Graham School of General Studies, the Cultural Policy Center, the Norman Wait Harris Fund of the Center for International Studies, the Committee on Human Development, and the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

Conference Schedule

All events at International House, 1414 E. 59th St., on the University of Chicago Campus

Friday, May 14:
9:30 am - 10:30 a.m.: Registration

10: 45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.: Opening Remarks

11:00 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Receiving and Judging: Public Opinion/World Opinion
“The Speech Market”
Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School

“Fragmented Publics/Fractured Consensus.”
Michael Dawson, Harvard University, Department of Political Science

“Media and Democracy in a 1.5 Party System”
Robert Entman, North Carolina State University, Departments of Communications and Political Science

“Doing Ideology: 20th Century News, the Possibility of Interpretation and the New Long Journalism.”
Kevin Barnhurst, University of Illinois - Chicago

1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.: Lunch

2:15 p.m. - 4:40 p.m.: Mediations Inside Media: Cultures of Journalism
“Notes on the Phenomenology of News Journalism.”
Dominic Boyer: Cornell University, Department of Anthropology

“Blogging and the Tradition of Partisan Journalism.”
John Nerone: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Trauma Training and the Emergence of a Therapeutic Culture in the U.S. News Industry.”
Carrie Rentschler: University of Pittsburgh, Women’s Studies Program

“Pop Goes the Profession: Journalism, Popular Culture, and Political Rationality.”
Jack Bratich: Rutgers, Department of Media and Journalism Studies

“Al-Jazeera, the ‘Arab Street,’ and the Pursuit of Contextual Objectivity.”
Adel Iskander: University of Kentucky, Department of Communications

4:45-6:15 p.m.: Keynote Address: John Nichols

6:15 p.m. - 7:15 p.m.: Reception

Saturday, May 15:

10:00a.m. - 12:00p.m.: Reflections and Refractions: Media on a Global Stage
“Troubadours, War Correspondents, and Other Storytellers: A Comparative Analysis of News and Music from the Salvadoran War.”
Mark Pedelty: University of Minnesota, Department of Anthropology

“Source Matters: Contentious Events, Media Reports, and the Importance of the Cold War.”
Christian Davenport: University of Maryland, Department of Political Science

“The News from Poetry: Propaganda, Persuasion, and Panic in Wartime Newspaper and Postcard Verse.”
Cary Nelson: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of English

“Circuits of Suffering.”
Meg McLagan: New York University, Department of Anthropology

12:00 p.m. -1:15 p.m.: Lunch

1:15 p.m. - 3:40 p.m.: Modes of Presentation

“From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: News Values and the Televising of Fear.”
Carol Stabile: University of Pittsburgh, Department of Communications

“Criminal Informants, Criminal Cultures.”
Christopher Wilson: Boston College, Department of English & American Studies

“The Condom’s Life in 20th Century U.S. Print Media: Circumventing the Comstock Laws.”
Paula Treichler: UIUC, Institute of Communications Research

“The Personal is Political: Television News and the 1979-80 Iran Hostage Crisis.”
Melani McAlister: George Washington University, American Studies

“The Epistemology of State Emotion: Compassion, Terror, and other Feelings in the Contemporary Public Sphere.”
Lauren Berlant: University of Chicago, English Languages and Literature

3:45 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Concluding Discussion

All events at International House, 1414 E. 59th St., on the University of Chicago Campus
Last modified at 05:38 PM CST on Thursday, May 13, 2004.

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us