Robert W. McChesney

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Robert W. McChesney
Robert Waterman McChesney

(1952-12-22) December 22, 1952 (age 71)
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Professor, author, activist, journalist
EmployerUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Known for
SpouseInger Stole Edit this at Wikidata

Robert Waterman McChesney (/məkˈtʃɛsni/; born December 22, 1952) is an American professor notable in the history and political economy of communications, and the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies. He is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.[1] He co-founded the Free Press,[2] a national media reform organization. In 2002–12, he hosted Media Matters,[3] a weekly radio program every Sunday afternoon on WILL (AM), Illinois Public Media radio.

Background and education[edit]

McChesney was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Samuel Parker McChesney, an advertising salesman for This Week magazine, and his wife Edna Margaret "Meg" (née McCorkle) McChesney, a nurse.[4][5] He attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he studied history and political economy.[6]


After college, McChesney worked for a time as a sports stringer for United Press International (UPI) and published a weekly newspaper. In 1979 he was the founding publisher of The Rocket, a Seattle-based rock music magazine that chronicled the birth of the Seattle rock scene of the late 1980s and 1990s.[7]

He gradually began to report on the media itself and became an expert in the field, entering academic studies in this area. He did graduate work at the University of Washington, obtaining a PhD in Communications there in 1989.[8] McChesney has published several books about the media, politics and contemporary United States society. (See below).

He is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.[1]

Assessment of the media[edit]

McChesney has said the term "deregulated media" is a misnomer. He describes media organizations as a government-sanctioned oligopoly, owned by a few highly profitable corporate entities. They have legislative influence and control news coverage and can distort public understanding of media issues.[9]

In his article "Farewell To Journalism" (October 2012), McChesney described what he considered the deterioration of the current US media system; he said that this freefall threatens the democratic system itself. He highlights what scholars believe to be the key characteristics of healthy journalism, and says, "It is necessary...that the media system as a whole makes such journalism a realistic expectation for the citizenry."[10]

McChesney proposed a $200 annual Citizenship News Voucher to support journalism.[11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Robert W. McChesney | Department of Communication | University of Illinois
  2. ^ Free Press website,; accessed April 13, 2015.
  3. ^ "Media Matters | Illinois Public Media". 7 October 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  4. ^ "United States Public Records, 1970-2009". FamilySearch. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  5. ^ "Mcchesney, Samuel Parker Jr". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on May 11, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Robert McChesney '77 on Tour with New Book: "Dollarocracy"". The Evergreen Mind. 30 October 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "Professional Experience - Robert W. McChesney". Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  8. ^ About Robert W. McChesney, Wikidata Q98839525.
  9. ^ Lendman, Stephen (July 2, 2008). "Robert McChesney's The Political Economy of Media (Part I)". Dissident Voice.
  10. ^ McChesney, Robert (23 October 2012). "Farewell To Journalism?". Journalism Practice. 6 (5–6): 614–626. doi:10.1080/17512786.2012.683273. S2CID 149010028.
  11. ^ "McChesney and Nichols: $30-billion to save journalism". HuffPost. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2022-01-17.
  12. ^ McChesney, Robert W. "Capitalism as We Know It Has Got to Go". Truthout. Retrieved 2018-09-12.

External links[edit]