Columbia Journalism Professor Michael Schudson speaks on the the public's right to know in YouTube video. He taught at UC San Diego for decades. Image via YouTube.com
Columbia Journalism Professor Michael Schudson speaks on the the public’s right to know in YouTube video. He taught at UC San Diego for decades. Image via YouTube.com

Todd Gitlin of the Columbia Journalism School has listed 168 journalism professors, professionals and academics who joined him in signing an open letter to the owners of Fox News, critical of the cable network’s coronavirus coverage and urging it to stop spreading “misinformation.”

UC San Diego is listed once — with Daniel C. Hallin a signatory. But among the others is Columbia’s Michael Schudson, who taught at UC San Diego from 1980 to 2009.

“The misinformation that reaches the Fox News audience is a danger to public health,” the professors wrote Rupert Murdoch and Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch on April 1. “Indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that your misreporting endangers your own viewers — and not only them, for in a pandemic, individual behavior affects significant numbers of other people as well.

Letter to Fox News owner and CEO (PDF)

“Yet by commission as well as omission — direct, uncontested misinformation as well as failure to report the true dimensions of the crisis — Fox News has been derelict in its duty to provide clear and accurate information about COVID-19.”

Via email, Gitlin told Times of San Diego that he was in the process of “getting the whole thing onto Medium” after a note on the letter was first posted April 1 by CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Twitter.

(The Medium version of the letter was posted April 3.)

“I got the initial signatories and sent the letter with the sign-up link to folks I know at J-schools around the country,” wrote Gitlin, who said he was forwarding the letter to Project Democracy for the Medium posting.

UCSD’s Hallin said his most recent book is about news coverage of health and medicine, so coverage of the pandemic was something he has been following closely.

“In a crisis like this, I think media absolutely have a responsibility to put the good of the community first, and, in the case of a public health crisis, to respect the expertise of scientists and public health officials,” he said April 8 via email. “Fox has a very hard time putting aside politics and the culture wars, and it’s dangerous to the community.”

Hallin, who probably learned about the letter from a Gitlin tweet, added: “I think we’re really seeing now why the shift toward a post-truth culture and the idea that information is just a weapon of politics is dangerous, why we need some degree of trust and respect for truth, and also some sense that we’re all one community in the end.”

According to Schudson’s biography, from 2005 on, he split his teaching between UCSD and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, becoming a full-time member of the New York school’s faculty in 2009.

A one-time MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow, Schudson has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune. His recent books include “The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency 1945-1975” (Harvard, 2015) and (with C.W. Anderson and Leonard Downie Jr.) “The News Media: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford, 2016).

For his part, Gitlin said he frequently attended meetings at UC San Diego when he lived in the Bay Area between 1968 and 1994.

Gitlin is chair of the Ph.D. program in communications at Columbia Journalism School. A noted sociologist, he was among authors attending the San Diego Jewish Book Fair in La Jolla in November 2010.

Besides himself, he listed as co-signers these journalism professors, including retirees:

  • Mark Feldstein, Eaton Chair of Broadcast Journalism, University of Maryland
  • Frances FitzGerald, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
  • Adam Hochschild, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
  • Edward Wasserman, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
  • Lisa R. Cohen, Columbia Journalism School
  • Gerald Johnson, Texas Student Media
  • Susan Moeller, Professor, Merrill College of Journalism, UMD, College Park
  • Maurine Beasley, University of Maryland College Park
  • Michael Deas, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
  • Ivan Meyers, Medill School at Northwestern University
  • Helen Benedict, Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
  • Hendrik Hertzberg, longtime staff writer and editor, The New Yorker
  • Lewis Friedland, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Com, UW-Madison
  • Dr. Tom Mascaro, Ph.D. Bowling Green State University, School of Media & Communication
  • Tom Bettag, Visiting Fellow, University of Maryland
  • Betty H Winfield University of Missouri Curators’ Professor Emerita
  • Frank D. Durham, University of Iowa
  • Dennis Darling, Professor, School of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Jonathan Weiner, Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism Columbia Journalism School
  • Ari L. Goldman, professor, Columba University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Jennifer Kahn, Narrative Program Lead, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
  • Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa
  • Deirdre English, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
  • Rosental C. Alves, University of Texas at Austin
  • Pauline Dakin, Assistant Professor, University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Nina Alvarez, Assistant Professor, Columbia Journalism School
  • Travis Vogan, University of Iowa
  • Ali Noor Mohamed, United Arab Emirates University
  • Linda Steiner, Acting Director, Ph.D. Studies; Professor, Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Lucas Graves, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UW Madison
  • Anna Everett, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Santa Barbara
  • Richard Appelbaum, Fielding Graduate University, UC Santa Barbara Emeritus
  • Tom Collinger, Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism
  • Wenhong Chen, Founding Co-director, Center for Entertainment and Media Industries Associate Professor of Media Studies and Sociology, Moody College of Communication, the University of Texas at Austin
  • LynNell Hancock, Professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Donna DeCesare, Associate Professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin
  • Barbie Zelizer, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
  • Michael Murray, UM Curators Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UM-St. Louis
  • Michael Schudson, Columbia University
  • Martin Kaplan, Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
  • Brian Ekdale, University of Iowa
  • Gina Masullo, University of Texas at Austin
  • Krishnan Vasudevan, Assistant Professor, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland at College Park
  • Harold Evans, former editor Sunday Times and The Times, London
  • Chuck Howell, Librarian for Journalism & Communication Studies, University of Maryland
  • Clarke L. Caywood, Ph.D, Professor Medill School of Journalism Media Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Andie Tucher, Director, PhD program in Communications, Columbia Journalism School
  • Kalyani Chadha, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
  • Denis P. Gorman, Freelance Journalist
  • Jon Marshall, Northwestern University
  • Kevin Lerner, Marist College
  • Joel Whitebook, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research
  • Abe Peck, Prof. Emeritus in Service, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University
  • Carrie Lozano, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
  • Susie Linfield, Dept. of Journalism, New York University
  • Charles Berret, University of British Columbia
  • Jay Rosen, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University
  • Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Professor of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Joseph Straubhaar, Professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas, Austin
  • Edward C Malthouse, Haven Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Media and IMC, Northwestern University
  • Mitchell Stephens, Professor of Journalism, New York University
  • Patricia Loew, Ph.D. Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
  • Richard Fine, Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • John E. Newhagen Associate Prof. Emeritus University of Marylans
  • Caryn Ward, Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing and Communication
  • David Hajdu, Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
  • Naeemul Hassan, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
  • Stephen D. Reese, School of Journalism & Media, University of Texas at Austin
  • Kevin Klose, Professor, University of Maryland
  • John Vivian, Winona State University
  • Sue Robinson, Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Thomas P. Oates, University of Iowa
  • Samuel Freedman, Columbia Journalism School
  • Susan Mango Curtis, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism
  • Robert S. Boynton, Professor, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU
  • Leonard Steinhorn, Professor of Communication and Affiliate Professor of History, American University
  • J.A. Adande, Medill School, Northwestern
  • Victor Pickard, University of Pennsylvania
  • Summer Harlow, Assistant Professor, University of Houston
  • Danielle K. Kilgo, Ph.D., Indiana University
  • Jack Doppelt, Northwestern University
  • Gerry Lanosga, The Media School, Indiana University
  • Martin Riedl, PhD Candidate, School of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Rich Shumate, School of Media, Western Kentucky University
  • Mac McKerral, School of Media, Western Kentucky University
  • Mel Coffee, University of Maryland
  • David J. Vergobbi, University of Utah
  • Tom Boll, part-time instructor, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
  • Dannagal G. Young, Associate Professor of Communication and Political Science, University of Delaware
  • Ken Light, Reva and David Logan Professor of Photojournalism, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
  • George Harmon, emeritus faculty, Medill School of Journalism
  • Rachel Young, University of Iowa
  • Carol M. Liebler, Professor, Newhouse School, Syracuse University
  • Kyu Ho Youm, University of Oregon
  • Julianne H Newton, University of Oregon
  • Bethany Swain, University of Maryland
  • Gi Woong Yun, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Thomas E. Winski, MJE Retired Assistant Professor of Journalism, Emporia State University
  • Roy L Moore, Professor (retired), Middle TN State University
  • Ira Chinoy, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland
  • Jay Edwin Gillette, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Information and Communication Sciences Center for Information and Communication Sciences, Ball State University
  • Michael Anderson, retired journalist
  • Kimberley Shoaf, Professor of Public Health, University of Utah
  • Erica Ciszek, University of Texas at Austin
  • Daniel C. Hallin, University of California at San Diego
  • Keith W. Strandberg, Webster University, Geneva
  • Sophie Furley, Editor
  • Frank Sesno, Director, George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs
  • Timothy V. Klein, Louisiana State University
  • James R. Laubach Jr., retired former Editor of The (Bethlehem, PA) Globe-Times
  • Victoria Smith Ekstrand, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Rachael L. Jones, Esq., Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida College of Journalism of Communications
  • Kyla P. Garrett Wagner, Assistant Professor, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
  • Kyla P. Garrett Wagner, Assistant Professor, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
  • Janet Steele, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
  • Todd Brewster, Mount Holyoke College
  • Marwan M. Kraidy, University of Pennsylvania
  • Francois Heinderyckx, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Ron Thomas, Director, Journalism and Sports Program, Morehouse College
  • Herman Gray, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, UC Santa Cruz
  • Rob Reuteman, Colorado State University
  • Brett G. Johnson, University of Missouri
  • Barbara Selvin, Stony Brook University School of Journalism
  • Jonathan Sanders School of Journalism Stony Brook University
  • Mary Douglas Vavrus, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, University of Minnesota
  • Seung-Hwan Mun, Northeastern Illinois University
  • Richard Ricioppo, Stony Brook University School of Journalism
  • Robert P. Hawkins, Maier-Bascom Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin — Madison
  • Suzanne Pingree, Professor emerita of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • David W. Park, Lake Forest College
  • Jean Folkerts, Former Dean and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • William E Aydelott, President, Waverly Motion Pictures
  • Alberto L. García, Lecturer. Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Mon Rodriguez, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Seth Lewis, Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media, University of Oregon
  • Richard Maxwell, Queens College CUNY
  • Gino Canella, Assistant Professor, Emerson College
  • Josh Watson, Associate Professor of Communication, Oklahoma Christian University
  • Jeffrey Layne Blevins, Head of Journalism, University of Cincinnati
  • Ezequiel Korin, Reynolds School of Journalism — University of Nevada, Reno
  • Howard W. French, Professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Justin C.Blankenship, Assistant Professor, School of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University
  • Jeremiah Horrigan, adjunct instructor, Marist College
  • Jerry Berger, Boston University School of Journalism
  • Carol Zuegner, Associate professor of journalism, Chair and Joella Cohen Endowed Chair of Journalism, Creighton University
  • Patrick Dougherty, former executive editor, Anchorage Daily News
  • Michael Balter, Adjunct Lecturer (Journalism), City College of New York
  • Harold O Castleman, former Sports Editor, The Franklin News-Post
  • Kay Bell, freelance journalist
  • Milbert O. Brown, Jr., Washington Adventist University
  • Kathleen A. Hansen, Professor Emerita, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Aaron Veenstra, Associate Professor, School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, Florida Atlantic University
  • David Swartzlander, associate professor of practice in journalism, Doane University
  • Damon Kiesow, Knight Chair, Missouri School of Journalism
  • David Carroll, associate professor of media design, Parson School of Design, The New School
  • Jan-Werner Mueller, Department of Politics, Princeton University
  • Mike Elgan, Fast Company and IDG
  • Maer Roshan, Editor in Chief, Los Angeles Magazine
  • Karl Idsvoog, Kent State University
  • Matt Jordan, Assoc. Professor, Department of Media Studies, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Penn State University
  • Michael A. Stusser, Seattle Weekly
  • Rhon Teruelle, Purdue University NW
  • Shane Snow, Snow Media
  • Mara Einstein, Professor & Chair, Media Studies, Queens College (CUNY)
  • Serhatcan Yurdam, Research Assistant, Department of Journalism, Faculty of Communication, Ege University
  • Stu Nicholson, Retired Broadcast Journalist
  • And Patricia A. Joseph, Retired Professor, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

The 660-word letter concluded: “The basic purpose of news organizations is to discover and tell the truth. This is especially necessary, and obvious, amid a public health crisis. Television bears a particular responsibility because even more millions than usual look there for reliable information.

“Inexcusably, Fox News has violated elementary canons of journalism. In so doing, it has contributed to the spread of a grave pandemic. Urgently, therefore, in the name of both good journalism and public health, we call upon you to help protect the lives of all Americans —including your elderly viewers — by ensuring that the information you deliver is based on scientific facts.”

Hannity told Newsweek on Thursday that his website provided “irrefutable evidence” that he took the matter seriously “way before most in the media did.”

“I warned in January that it was dangerous because it was highly contagious, but some people were asymptomatic, so it would spread quickly,” he said.

Did he call coronavirus a hoax?

“It’s the same Democrats, media mob and liberal professors who are so lazy they won’t even look at what I’ve said about the virus,” Hannity said. “They just go with their narrative. I never called it a ‘hoax.’ I said it was a hoax for them to be using it as a bludgeon on Trump. And they are. Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi are talking about an investigation. Now? In the middle of a pandemic?”

Professor Dan Hallin has written on the media and war and on TV coverage of elections. Image via unquote.ucsd.edu

Hannity declined to comment on Regan’s remarks, saying “I’m responsible for me and I don’t talk about other hosts. I wish everybody success in their career.”

The San Diego Jewish Book Fair citation for Gitlin called him a New Left activist who has never been afraid of controversy. (He was president of Students for a Democratic Society in the early 1960s).

“His latest book examines the U.S.-Israel relationship,” it said. “Although the countries share clear strategic interests, Gitlin claims they also share a raison d’etre: both nations exist as Chosen Peoples entrusted to deliver an enlightened message to a dark and troubled world.”

His book was “The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel and the Ordeals of Divine Election.”

Schudson, the former UCSD professor, was profiled in the San Diego Reader in 1996.

“Whenever there’s some form of conventional wisdom,” Schudson told Joel Drucker, “my tendency is to say, ‘Wait a minute, what makes you think that? How come?’ I get angry when people are thickheaded, when they claim understandings of the world that they don’t really know.”

Updated at 9:28 p.m. April 8, 2020

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