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Media mutters 

Many of our favorite lefties will be gathering across the river for a conference titled 20 Years of Propaganda? The catalyst for this confab is the 20th anniversary of the landmark book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Communication by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. Both Herman and Chomsky — perhaps the world's most renowned linguist as well as one of the left's leading (and controversial) thinkers — will be speaking at the conference being held in Windsor, May 15-17. (For tickets, times and more info go to

In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky established a "propaganda model" as a framework for "Analyzing and understanding how the mainstream U.S. media work and why they perform as they do." Because that model "suggests that the media serve antidemocratic ends, it is commonly excluded from mainstream debates on media bias," wrote Herman in a piece published four years ago.

"This conference provides a unique opportunity for some of the foremost media scholars in the world to engage in a critical and multi-disciplinary analysis and debate of our media system, and to propose solutions for positive media and democratic change," writes Paul Boin, University of Windsor communications professor and conference organizer.

Just a look at the list of participants gets our progressive heart pumping faster. Among the journalists and scholars being featured at the event are: Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! program; Sheldon Rampton, editor of the newsletter PR Watch and co-author of several books including Toxic Sludge is Good For You, which provides a devastating look at the public relations industry; and Robert McChesney, a university professor and prolific author who hosts the Media Matters radio show.

To keep things from collapsing under the combined weight of all that academia, there will be a performance by K'naan, who's billed as an award winning singer/songwriter and Somali-Canadian folk-rap-reggae artist.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or

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