Communication and Media

PR watchdog John Stauber spoke at UNI as part of Hearst Series

Posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Investigative writer, activist and public interest organization consultant John Stauber spoke at the University of Northern Iowa on Monday, Nov. 8, in the Lang Hall Auditorium. His lecture, "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You: How Propagandists Manage Democracy," was part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series.

Stauber discussed a wide range of topics that illustrated the influence of unethical public relations practices, including how toxic sludge becomes "organic compost" for gardens, how BP has tried to position itself as an environmental leader, and how news "echo chambers" reinforce political and social biases favorable to sponsors and advertisers. According to Stauber, "Government and industry organize public relations campaigns to manage public attitudes, perceptions, behavior and policy."

Stauber has authored/co-authored six books including the 2003 New York Times bestseller "Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq." He served as executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy for 16 years until 2009. Today he is an independent investigative writer, activist and a consultant to public interest organizations including the Food Rights Network.

The Hearst Lecture Series is sponsored by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Department of Communication Studies. For more information, contact Chris Martin, professor of communication studies, at 319-273-7155, or