Danny Schechter (1942-2015)

by Jerry Alatalo

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Alphabet Danny Schechter died at the age of 72 on Thursday March 19, 2015. He had pancreatic cancer. He was a good and decent man.

Danny Schechter was a writer, author and documentarian whose greatest contribution could have been the communications work/actions he carried out which played a significant role in exposing to the world, then ending, South Africa’s apartheid system. For those increasing numbers of men and women around the world wishing to end the apartheid system in Israel with its decades-long oppression of Palestinians – a situation which according to Bishop Desmond Tutu is many times worse than in South Africa shortly before apartheid ended there – there are great lessons to learn from Danny Schechter.

Mr. Schechter and his fellow anti-apartheid friends helped produce the news program “South Africa Now”, which went on to become broadcasted on over 150 PBS stations in America and seen in some 40 nations around the world. The news program should rightly be remembered as a decisive factor in educating the world’s people about what was really occurring in South Africa, igniting a worldwide awareness and activism, leading to enough pressure on both supporters of apartheid from America and other nations, the South Africa apartheid regime itself, and then the eventual dismantling of the racist system.

Danny Schechter had inside understanding of mainstream corporate media after working in that industry. He spent a short time working on ABC’s “20-20” where he won two Emmys, and at CNN during that network’s beginnings. He left the corporate media industry and went on to write articles and books, as well as produce a number of highly acclaimed documentaries.

The memory which stands out most for this writer about Danny Schechter was his friendly, likeable demeanor. He must have been a lot of fun to spend time with, aside from his admirable, honorable, truthful writing and filmmaking. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the first person greeting him in the afterlife, seeing the good difference Danny Schechter’s efforts made to the lives of the people of South Africa, was Nelson Mandela. Their shared joy upon meeting on the “other side” can only have been immeasurable.

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From The Progressive Radio Network website prn.fm:

Danny Schechter, host of The News Dissector, passed away March 19th, 2015. We will continue honor his legacy, by broadcasting best of performances of his show at it’s regularly scheduled time.

Danny Schechter is a journalist, author, television producer and independent filmmaker who also writes and speaks about economic and media issues. He is the executive editor of MediaChannel.org, the world’s largest online media issues online network, and recipient of many awards including the Society of Professional Journalists‘ 2001 Award for Excellence in Documentary Journalism. His latest films are “Barack Obama, People’s President (2009), an examination of how Obama won and “IN DEBT WE TRUST:” America Before The Bubble Bursts,” (2007) an investigation of the impact of credit and debt on American society. The film was one of the first to expose subprime lending and warn of an economic crisis. He was a Director on “Viva Madiba,” a feature-length biopic tribute to Nelson Mandela on his 90th Birthday. (2008).

He is the author of ten books including Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books, 2008); Squeezed: America As the Bubble Bursts (ColdType, 2007); “The Death of the Media” (Melville Press); When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (Select Books); “Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Failed to Cover the Iraq War” (Prometheus Books, October 2003); “Media Wars: News At A Time of Terror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003); “The More You Watch, The Less You Know” (Seven Stories Press) and “News Dissector: Passions, Pieces and Polemics” (Akashic) Books and Electron Press).

Schechter is co-founder and executive producer of Globalvision, a New York-based television and film production company now in its 21st year. He founded and exec-produced the TV series “South Africa Now” and co-produced the series “Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television. He has specialized in investigative reporting and producing programming about the interface between human rights, journalism, popular music and society. His career began as the “News Dissector” at Boston’s leading rock station, WBCN. Later, he moved into television as an on-camera reporter for WGBH (Channel 2) in Boston and then as a producer for WLVI (Channel 56) and WCVB (Channel 5)Schechter then joined the start-up team of CNN and later became a producer for ABC NEWS 20/20. He produced 50 segments for ABC NEWS and won two national Emmys and was nominated or two others.

He has produced and directed many TV specials and documentary films, including WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) on the media coverage of the Iraq War; “Counting on Democracy” about the electoral fiasco in Florida narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; the post 9-11 film We Are Family” (2002) shown at the Sundance Film Festival; “Nkosi: A Voice of Africa’s AIDS Orphans” (2001) narrated by Danny Glover; “A Hero for All: Nelson Mandela’s Farewell” (l999); “Beyond Life: Timothy Leary Lives” (1997); “Sowing Seeds/Reaping Peace: The World of Seeds of Peace” (1996); “Prisoners of Hope: Reunion on Robben Island” (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 Marc Levin and Barbara Kopple); “Give Peace a Chance” (1991); “Mandela in America” (1990); “The Making of Sun City” (1987); and “Student Power” (1968).

He has spoken at scores of universities—from Harvard to Hamline, from Minnesota to MIT, NYU to Georgia States, Santa Monica to the University of Hawaii, Princeton to Cornell.

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 Neiman 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, and worked as a community organizer in a Saul Alinsky-style War on Poverty program. Then, moving from the streets to the suites, Schechter served as an assistant to the Mayor of Detroit in 1966 on a Ford Foundation grant.

Schechter has reported from 61 countries. He was an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and taught investigative reporting at the New School. Schechter’s writing has appeared in leading newspapers and magazines including the The Nation, Newsday, Boston Globe, Columbia Journalism Review, Media Studies Journal, Detroit Free Press, Village Voice, Tikkun, Z, and many others.

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To listen to past editions of Danny Schechter’s radio talk show , please visit: http://thenewsdissector.podbean.com/

(Thank you to democracynow at YouTube)

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3 thoughts on “Danny Schechter (1942-2015)

    1. Stuart,
      For sure. Don’t know why, perhaps because Danny Schechter didn’t possess Robert Redford’s good looks, but he didn’t receive the credit he truly deserved. His lack of public acknowledgement mirrors Dennis Kucinich, who, if he similarly had Robert Redford looks, may have surprised a lot of people when he ran for president. Both expressed (Mr. Kucinich still alive and speaking out) positive ideas for making the world a better place. At any rate, people wouldn’t go wrong by studying Danny Schechter’s lifetime body of work.
      Thanks,
      Jerry

      Like

  1. Pingback: Danny Schechter (1942-2015) | Occupy Wall Street by Platlee

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