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Klinenberg to Discuss the Battle to Control America's Media

January 9, 2007 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg will speak about the corporate takeover of local news and what it means for all Americans when he delivers the first Crain Lecture of 2007 Thursday, Jan. 18, at Northwestern University. 

Titled “Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media,” the 4 p.m. lecture in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, Evanston campus, is free and open to the public.

The lecture title takes its title from Klinenberg's latest book, which will be published Jan. 9 by Metropolitan Books. His first book was a widely acclaimed “social autopsy” that detailed how Chicago's 1995 heat wave claimed the lives of more than 700 city residents.

Klinenberg's new book opens with an account of a 2002 train derailment outside a small North Dakota town that created a drifting poisonous cloud of gas that killed one individual and injured more than 1,000.

He explains how -- in an age of canned programming and virtual disc jockeys - warning calls from firemen and rescue workers of the approaching threat went unheard. Nobody was in Clear Channel Communication's studio, the national media giant that owned Minot's six local commercial stations, to take calls from rescue workers.

In “Fighting For Air,” Klinenberg depicts a world of empty TV news stations, pre-programmed radio shows and copycat newspapers that he argues are a result of the federal government's “malign neglect,” as the agencies charged with ensuring diversity and open competition have given control to the very conglomerates that undermine these values and goals.

Klinenberg, a recipient of numerous academic awards and fellowships, writes for popular publications, including Rolling Stone, The Nation and Slate. While teaching at Northwestern, he began work on “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” by embedding himself in newsrooms and learning firsthand how reporters and editors perform their craft amid new technologies and market pressures.

The popular Crain Lecture Series brings prominent newsmakers, news analysts and news reporters to Northwestern University's Medill School. The lecture series is named in honor of Crain Communications founders Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr. For further information about the Jan. 18 lecture, call (847) 491-5401 or check Medill's Web site at http://www.medill.northwestern.edu.

Topics: Campus Life