Independent Media Speakers

PCIM regularly brings the leading lights in independent media and journalism to Ithaca for public presentations and small group meetings with students and faculty.

Fall 2018 speaker What the traditional Chicago media missed in the Laquan McDonald case

Journalist Brandon Smith will give a public lecture on the power of independent journalism in exposing police brutality and racial injustice on Wednesday, October 24th at 7 p.m. in Emerson Suites. 

Smith was a winner of the Izzy Award along with activist Jamie Kalven in 2016 for challenging the official story about the killing of Laquan McDonald, an African American teenager, by Chicago police in 2014. Early this October, the police officer was convicted on counts of second-degree murder and battery.

Previous Speakers

In 2017, Independent journalist Dave Zirin gave a public lecture, "The Politics of Sports and Sports Journalism. In an open-to-the-public lecture and a spirited Q&A supper with 50 students/faculty and a journalism class, The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin discussed the latest controversies in sports and sports media. Amidst the historic rebellion of NFL football players in protest against racial injustice and President Trump, Zirin’s visit to campus couldn’t have been more timely. He addressed issues of sexism, racism, militarism and corporatism in sports, and offered a bracing history of sports and sports protest in the United States. His public lecture was titled: “The Politics of Sports and Sports Journalism.”

Zirin is the author or coauthor of eight books, including “A Peoples History of Sports in the United States”; “Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down” (which Christine Brennan of USA Today called “the perfect book for our time in sports”; and “The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World,” for which Zirin received an NAACP Image Award nomination.

The Ithacan's Q&A with Dave Zirin.

In 2016, media critic Janine Jackson of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) presented a lecture: “Can You Trust Mainstream News Media? Racial and Other Biases.” Jackson, host of the weekly “CounterSpin” radio show, gave pointers on how to be a critical news consumer – conscious of language, sourcing, and possible advertiser or owner influence on what’s being reported or not reported.

2015 featured Jim Hightower, the progressive populist from Texas who is also an author, humorist, radio commentator and pamphleteer (Hightower Lowdown). His presentation – “Against the Current: How Indy Media & Activists Can Challenge Corporate Control” – offered historic and contemporary wisdom.

In December 2014, Truthout editor Maya Schenwar discussed her book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better. Based partly on her family’s experiences, Schenwar argued passionately for a transformation of our broken penal system. And she discussed the important work of independent outlets like Truthout.

In fall 2014 Betty Medsger, journalist and author of the fascinating new book The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI, spoke about the "ordinary" citizens who broke into an FBI office in 1971, revealing the bureau's surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of peaceful civil rights, women's rights, and antiwar activists and political dissidents.

Other recent speakers have included

  • author/professor Robert W. McChesney, discussing "Corporate Dominance of Internet, Media, and Politics";

  • author, journalist, and Democracy Now! cohost Juan Gonzalez, who spoke on "The Epic Story of Race & U.S. Media";

  • journalist and immigrant rights activist José Antonio Vargas of;

  • feminist author Susan Faludi, who spoke on "9/11: Myth, Media and Gender" on the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01;