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Media policy to be focus of new
initiative at Illinois
Chamberlain, News Editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
Media policy issues will be getting increased attention at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a result of a new research initiative
supported by $234,000 from a recording artists organization.
The university’s College of
Communications has established the Illinois Initiative for Media
Policy Research, under the direction of Robert McChesney, a media policy
expert and professor in the U. of I. Institute
of Communications Research. The initiative will support research
on media policy and on improving the overall policymaking process, in
part so it better serves democratic values, McChesney said.
The initial funding for the initiative comes from a grant from the Recording
Artists Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose members
include numerous well-known recording artists. The coalition supports
recording artists’ rights and addresses public-policy issues affecting
the music industry.
The grant will be distributed over two years, at $117,000 a year, with
the possibility of a two-year renewal.
“This is a significant grant for the College of Communications,”
said Ronald E. Yates, the dean of the college. “It positions the
college and the university as a national and international focal point
in this critical area of media work and research.”
The Recording Artists Coalition was formed in 1999 by Eagles band member
Don Henley and Irving Azoff, personal manager of the Eagles and the
chairman of the Azoff Music Management Group. Both men serve on the
coalition’s board of directors.
Azoff, an Illinois alumnus, also has made a two-year commitment of funds
to support an annual seminar on media policy. That commitment also may
be renewed for an additional two years.
Azoff, a former chairman of the MCA Entertainment Group, has produced
movies such as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Urban
Cowboy” and “The Hurricane.” He also manages the careers
of Christina Aguilera, Seal and Van Halen, among others. He received
an honorary doctorate from Illinois in 2003.
Azoff and Henley said they were drawn to supporting the new initiative
at Illinois out of their admiration for McChesney’s research and
writing, going back to before his arrival at Illinois in 1998. Beginning
last year, Azoff and McChesney have worked together on issues related
to media ownership.
McChesney is the author of some 200 articles and chapters on media issues,
and has written or co-written 11 books, including “Rich Media,
Poor Democracy” and “The Problem of the Media,” the
latter published earlier this year. He also is the founder and president
of Free Press, a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to generating
widespread and informed public involvement in media policymaking.