Robert McChesney

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Person.png Robert McChesney   Unwelcome Guests WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
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BornDecember 22, 1952
Alma materThe Evergreen State College, University of Washington
US academic and media critic. Has has said the term "deregulated media" is a misnomer. He describes media organizations as a government-sanctioned oligopoly, owned by a few highly profitable corporate entities.

Robert Waterman McChesney is an American professor notable in the history and political economy of communications, and the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies. He is Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.[1] He co-founded the Free Press,[2] a national media reform organization. From 2002–12, he hosted Media Matters,[3] a weekly radio program every Sunday afternoon on WILL (AM), Illinois Public Media radio.

Background and education

McChesney was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Samuel Parker McChesney, an advertising salesman for This Week magazine, and his wife Edna Margaret "Meg" (née McCorkle) McChesney, a nurse.[4][5] He attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he studied history and political economy.[6]


After college, McChesney worked for a time as a sports stringer for United Press International (UPI), and published a weekly newspaper. In 1979 he was the founding publisher of The Rocket, a Seattle-based rock magazine that chronicled the birth of the Seattle rock scene of the late 1980s and 1990s.[7]

He gradually began to report on the media itself and became an expert in the field, entering academic studies in this area. He did graduate work at the University of Washington, obtaining a PhD in Communications there in 1989.[8] McChesney has published several books about the media, politics and contemporary United States society. (See below).

He is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.[1]

Assessment of the media

McChesney has said the term "deregulated media" is a misnomer. He describes media organizations as a government-sanctioned oligopoly, owned by a few highly profitable corporate entities. They have legislative influence and control news coverage, and can distort public understanding of media issues.[9]

In his article "Farewell To Journalism" (October 2012), McChesney described what he considered the deterioration of the current US media system; he said that this freefall threatens the democratic system itself. He highlights what scholars believe to be the key characteristics of healthy journalism, and says, "It is necessary...that the media system as a whole makes such journalism a realistic expectation for the citizenry."[10]

“By three months old, 40 percent of infants watch screen media regularly; by two years, 90 percent do. By her third birthday, the average American child recognizes one hundred brand logos. The typical child is exposed to forty thousand screen ads per year. Children know the names of more branded characters than of real animals. By her tenth birthday, the average American child knows three hundred to four hundred brands. Research shows over and over that preschoolers will overwhelmingly think advertised products, branded products, are superior even when the actual contents are identical.”
Robert W. McChesney (2013)  [11]



  • People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy. Nation Books. March 8, 2016. ISBN 9781568585215.
  • Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy. NYU Press. October 22, 2014. ISBN 978-1-58367-478-9.[11]
  • Nichols, John; McChesney, Robert W (2013). Dollarocracy: How Billionaires Are Buying Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It. Nation Books. ISBN 978-1-56858-711-0.
  • Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. New Press. March 5, 2013. ISBN 978-1-59558-891-3.
  • Foster, John Bellamy; McChesney, Robert W. (September 1, 2012). The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces *Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China. NYU Press. ISBN 978-1-58367-314-0.
  • Nichols, John; McChesney, Robert W. (2010). The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the *World Again. Nation Books. ISBN 9781568586052.
  • The Political Economy of Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas. NYU Press. 1 May 2008. ISBN 978-1-58367-161-0.
  • Communication Revolution: Critical Junctures and the Future of Media. New Press. 2007. ISBN 9781595582072.
  • The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the 21st Century. Monthly Review Press. 2004. ISBN 978-1583671054.
  • Herman, Edward S.; McChesney, Robert W. (August 27, 2001). Global Media: The New Missionaries of Global Capitalism. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-8264-5819-3.
  • Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. New Press. 2 June 1999. ISBN 978-1-62097-070-6.

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