February 24 Wednesday

Abrams Institute: Michael Schudson

  • Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 12:00PM - 1:00PM
  • Room 122
  • Open To The Public
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The Rise of the Right to Know: Expectations of Openness in an Age of Secrets

In an age of Snowden, Manning, and Assange, it may seem odd to argue that there are greater expectations of openness in democracies than ever before, but that is the case. Government agencies, laws, legislative procedures, civil society guardians of openness, practices of disclosure in health care, advertising, food packaging and labeling, all reinforce ideals of transparency as never before.

In the U.S. case, the focal point of this lecture, little of this goes back to the early days of the Republic, but almost all of it precedes the Internet. The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (1966) grew out of 1950s struggles inside government related to the Cold War and other advances in openness owe much to the rise of a new generation of political leadership coming to power some years before mass demonstrations and the cultural revolution of the late 1960s. This history should help us rethink the role of transparency -- and its limits -- today.

Bio: Michael Schudson is Professor of Journalism and adjunct professor of sociology at Columbia University. He is also Distinguished Emeritus Professor, University of California, San Diego. He is the author of 8 books and co-editor of 3 others on U.S. journalism, politics, political culture, and related topics. His most recent book, published in September, is The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945-1975 (Harvard University Press).

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