UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A researcher with expertise about the history and political economy of media institutions will discuss the ongoing collapse of commercial journalism in the United States and the policies he believes are necessary for establishing public alternatives to for-profit media and reinvigorating democracy during a free public lecture on the University Park campus in late February.
Victor Pickard, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will present “Confronting the Misinformation Society” as the spring 2019 Robert M. Pockrass Memorial Lecture at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in Foster Auditorium of Paterno Library.
Pickard believes the proliferation of misinformation afflicting democratic societies stems from structural pathologies in communication systems.
“From Facebook’s unaccountable monopoly power to the demise of reliable journalism, a misinformation ecosystem has taken root,” he said. “This is particularly true in the United States where entire regions and issues lack media coverage at a time when robust reporting is desperately needed. These growing ‘news deserts’ are disproportionately harming specific groups and areas, especially communities of color, rural districts and lower socio-economic neighborhoods. Such systemic problems require radical structural reforms.”
Pickard is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, where he co-directs the Media, Inequality & Change Center. He previously taught at New York University in the media, culture and communication department, and worked on media policy in Washington, D.C., as a senior research fellow at the media reform organization Free Press and the think tank the New America Foundation. He also taught media policy at the University of Virginia.
He has published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters, and he writes for popular outlets such as The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Jacobin, and The Nation. He has authored or edited five books, including “America’s Battle for Media Democracy,” “Media Activism,” “Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights,” and “After Net Neutrality: A New Deal for the Digital Age.” Currently he is finishing a book on the political economy of digital journalism.
The Pockrass Lecture was named after the late Professor Robert M. Pockrass, a member of Penn State's journalism faculty from 1948 to 1977. Pockrass specialized in public opinion and popular culture, served as the graduate officer, and taught radio news writing.