News Dissecting from Boston to a Global Stage: A Multimedia Pioneer Challenges His Profession and Calls for Media Reform
Danny Schechter "The News Dissector," launched a media career in Boston on WBCN Radio. He became a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard, a reporter at WGBH, a producer at WLVI and WCVB, and then went on to CNN and ABC News where he won two Emmys. However he believes media, his field of four decades, harms our democracy.
Are the major news corporations doing more harm than good? Can independent media -- empowered with the tools of a technological revolution -- do any better? Schechter joins us tonight to look back on his journey from Boston to the world stage and explore the rapidly changing ways in which we receive our information- Ford Hall Forum
Danny Schechter is a television producer and independent filmmaker who also writes and speaks about media issues. He is the author of "Falun Gong's Challenge to China" (Akashic Press), "The More You Watch, The Less You Know" (Seven Stories Press) and "News Dissector: Passions, Pieces and Polemics" (Electron Press). He is the executive editor of the MediaChannel.org, the world's largest online media issues network.
He has produced and directed many TV specials and films, including "Falun Gong's Challenge to China" (2000); A Hero for All: Nelson Mandela's Farewell (l999); Beyond Life: Timothy Leary Lives (1997); Sowing Seeds/Reeping Peace: The World of Seeds of Peace (1996); Prisoners of Hope (1995, co-directed by Barbara Kopple); Countdown to Freedom: Ten Days that Changed South Africa (1994), narrated by James Earl Jones and Alfre Woodard; Sarajevo Ground Zero (1993); The Living Canvas (1992), narrated by Billy Dee Williams; Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy (1992, co-directed by Barbara Kopple); Give Peace a Chance (1991); Mandela in America (1990) The Making of Sun City (1987); and Student Power (1968).
Schechter is co-founder and executive producer of Globalvision, a New York-based television and film production company now in its 13th year, where he produced 156 editions of the award-winning series South Africa Now, co-produced Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television with Charlayne Hunter-Gault. His most recent human rights production, "Globalization and Human Rights was co-produced with Rory O'Connor and shown nationally on PBS.
A Cornell University graduate, he received his Master's degree from the London School of Economics, and an honorary doctorate from Fitchburg College. He was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard, where he also taught in 1969. After college, he was a full time civil rights worker and then communications director of the Northern Student Movement, worked as a community organizer in a Saul Alinsky-style War on Poverty program, and, moving from the streets to the suites, served as an assistant to the Mayor of Detroit in 1966 on a Ford Foundation grant
Boston's first African American television reporter, Sarah-Ann Shaw was born, Sarah-Ann King, in Boston, Massachusetts to Annie Bell Bomar King and Norris King, Jr. Growing up in Roxbury, Shaw's father, who was active in the Roxbury Democratic Club, took her to lectures at Jordan Hall, the Ford Hall Forum and Tremont Temple. There, young Shaw met Paul Robeson. Her mother worked along side the selfless Melnea Cass. She attended William P. Boardman Elementary School and Henry Lee Higginson Elementary School, was a Girl Scout and was active at St. Mark's Social Center. A student at Girls Latin School, Shaw was involved with the NAACP Youth Movement. Graduating in 1952, Shaw enrolled at Boston University, but left school in 1955 to get married.
Increasingly involved in community activities, Shaw worked with St. Mark's Social Center and as a member of the Boston Action Group (BAG). Shaw joined other activists like Otto P. and Muriel S. Snowden in 1957. National Student Movement head, Bill Strickland then asked her to head the Boston Northern Student Movement where she coordinated student led voter education, high school tutoring, and economic housing education with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), BAG, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Unitarians. In 1968, she became involved with Ray Richardson's Say Brother public affairs show on WBEZ-TV. Shaw would go on to appear on the program more than twenty times. In 1969, she was hired by WBZ-TV 4 as Boston's first African American reporter. Shaw was a news reporter at WBZ TV 4 for more than thirty years. As a civil rights organizer and human services advocate, she demonstrated a rare ability to unite Boston residents and tackle big picture issues. At WBZ, Shaw anchored another black oriented public affairs program, Mzizi Roots.
Shaw, who helped define minority affairs programming and news content, has received numerous journalistic awards for her work, including an award from the Boston Radio-Television News Directors Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1998 and the Yankee Quill Award from the New England Society of Newspaper Editors. She volunteers for Boston Partners in Education, is a board member of Boston Neighborhood Network and currently serves as the President for both the Boston Coalition of Black Women and the League of Women for Community Service.
Danny Schechter cites predatory lending practices to have caused the subprime, or as he calls it, "subcrime" housing crisis. Over three million Americans are facing foreclosure in what Schechter names a "50-state Katrina."