"Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."-- Eugene V. Debs

Teaching and Research Interests

I am an associate professor of Speech Communication at North Central College where I teach courses in media studies, urban studies, persuasion and gender/women studies. My intellectual interests are eclectic and wide-ranging:   news and journalism, film, TV, media policy, media reform activism, philosophy and social theory, urban history, contemporary American politics, the list could go on and on. Most of the courses I teach reflect at least some of these interests and typically adopt a critical, interdisciplinary perspective informed by media history, political economy and social and cultural theory. 
Up until a few years ago, my research and writing focused on media representations of American cities and the urban poor.  My book on the subject, Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right and the Moral Panic over the City, was published by University of Minnesota Press in May, 2006. You can see a video of me discussing the book -- produced by Chicago's own Labor Beat TV-- here.  If you can read Italian, check out the 2008 interview with me about the book in the magazine Carta.
Winner of the Urban Communication Foundation's 2006 Jane Jacobs Publication Award.
I have long been interested in classical and Western Marxist critiques of the capitalist media. Over the years, I've been active in organizing panels, workshops and forums on Marxist communication research, its strengths and shortcomings, and its relationship to other critical approaches and schools of thought (poststructuralism, feminism, liberal humanism, media ecology, "positivist" media research etc.). In 2006,  I contributed to and (with Lee Artz and Dana Cloud) co-edited a volume on historical   materialism and critical communication    scholarship,   Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change It (Peter Lang) that deals in depth with these issues.
I've also done some research on TV news coverage of dissident political movements and on various media policy issues. In 2003 and 2004 I helped to design and carry out Chicago Media Action's study of bias and sourcing on WTTW's news show Chicago Tonight.
I am an active participant in the media reform/media democracy movement, in particular the local group Chicago Media Action.
At the 2008 National Conference for Media Reform, I chaired a panel entitled "Organizing Locally at the Grassroots" which featured representatives from Reclaim the Media, Twin Cities Media Alliance, Media Alliance and The Media Mobilizing Project. In January 2007, I put together a panel on "How to Challenge a Broadcast License" at the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis which included speakers from Chicago Media Action, Iowans for Better Local TV, Youth Media Council and  Georgetown University's Institute for Public Representation.
At the 2005 NMRC in St. Louis, I organized an "Action Clinic" on media monitoring  that featured speakers from Chicago Media Action, Grade the News and the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (click on the logo below for more information about the conference itself).
I'm currently at work on a book-length critical history of the Chicago news media tentatively titled News For a Divided Metropolis. Drawing on the research for the book, in the summer of 2008 I wrote some articles about the underground press scene in Chicago during the late 60s, early 70s  that were published in the special 1968 issue of the excellent local arts and activism zine, AREA Chicago.

Copyright © 2005, Steve Macek | Based on a design by haran