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Professor Dan Kennedy

The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) is pleased to announce that one of our faculty members, Dan Kennedy, has been awarded the 2018 James W. Carey Award for Outstanding Media Ecology Journalism from the Media Ecology Association. The term “media ecology” refers, broadly, to how media, technology, and communication affect human environments. The theoretical frameworks of media ecology date back to the 1960s, and the term “media ecology” itself was formally introduced in 1968 by Neil Postman, a well-known American author, educator, media theorist, and cultural critic.

The award is given annually to a journalist whose work has shown a strong commitment to and understanding of the media ecology perspective. Kennedy, who is an Associate Professor in our School of Journalism, has dedicated much of his research to related topics.

His recent book, The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century(ForeEdge, 2018), chronicles the important story of how the founder of Amazon, the owner of the Red Sox, and other wealthy entrepreneurs are working to revive the business of journalism. Kennedy is also the author of The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age (2013), which tells the story of the New Haven Independent, a nonprofit community website in Connecticut that is reinventing local journalism. As the description of the book from the UMass Press catalog indicates, through close attention to city government, schools and neighborhoods, and through an ongoing conversation with its readers, the Independent’s small staff of journalists has created a promising model of how to provide members of the public with the information they need in a self-governing society. This partnership between local journalists and the communities they serve highlights a first-hand example of media ecology in today’s news cycle.

James Morrison, a communication professor at Boston College, played an instrumental role in Kennedy’s selection as the Carey Award recipient. He cited Kennedy’s “career work in examining the influences of technology and power on democratic values.” He added that Kennedy was a Joan Shorenstein Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2016, as Carey had been in 2003, ”so choosing him is particularly appropriate. . . In thinking about the Carey Award, I think we need to keep in mind the issues that Jim Carey espoused most: emphasis on the relationships between power, culture, technology, and democratic values. For many years, Dan Kennedy has embodied Jim Carey’s commitment to examining those intersections.”

For Kennedy, this award is particularly notable due to its connection to the late Neil Postman.

“I was both pleased and surprised when I received the award because it was gratifying to be recognized for my work and because I had no idea I had been nominated,” he said. “I have admired Neil Postman for many years. In fact, in The Return of the Moguls I include an account of a speaking appearance Postman and then-New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. made at Harvard in 1995, which I wrote about at the time for The Boston Phoenix. I feel as though I have come full circle.”

A huge congratulations to Professor Kennedy for his award from the entire CAMD community!