Press Release: Where the Truth Lies: A Symposium on Propaganda Today

Presented by the School of Visual Arts (SVA), In cooperation wIth the PhD Programs In History and Sociology of the Graduate Center, CIty University of New York (CUNY)

Friday, February 15, 9am – 4pm
Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall, The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
$35 general admission/$20 students

As the presidential race shifts into high gear, Americans are inundated with propaganda. Where does truth end and “spin” begin? Madison Avenue veterans and other media experts offer some perspective in Where the Truth Lies: A Symposium on Propaganda Today, presented by the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in cooperation with the PhD Programs in History and Sociology of the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).
The keynote presentation will be given by celebrated designer and creator of the “I Love NY” logo Milton Glaser, who asks, “Is there any difference between good propaganda and bad propaganda?” Among other topics, the program will address how American presidents persuade the public to go to war and what progressive politicians can learn from Las Vegas. There will also be a sneak preview of Carrier, an original PBS documentary about life on the USS Nimitz warship during a recent deployment to the Persian Gulf and a screening of propaganda videos. David Brancaccio, the Emmy award-winning host and senior editor of NOW, the weekly investigative news program on PBS, will moderate.
The event is organized by Stuart Ewen, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College, and in the PhD Programs in History, Sociology and American Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center; Steven Heller, design authority and co-chair, MFA Design Department, SVA; and Mary Jeys, of the MFA Program in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College, CUNY, who curated the video screenings. Heller has written about propaganda in his forthcoming book Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-Century Totalitarian State (Phaidon)

Where the Truth Lies features:
Maro Chermayeff previews a clip from a new 10-hour documentary that she directed about life on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier during a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf for combat support of the ground troops in Iraq. Chermayeff is a three-time Emmy Award-nominated executive producer, producer, director, author and former television executive. She produced, directed and edited the multi-award-winning feature-length documentary Kindness of Strangers, which was screened at numerous film festivals and aired on HBO. She has been a consultant and producer/editor for Charlie Rose, resulting in more than 10 one-hour documentaries for PBS.

Learning from Las Vegas: A Possibility for Progressive Persuasion?  
“Progressives continue to depend upon sober reason to guide them. Instead they need to learn to communicate in today’s spectacular vernacular. Learning from Las Vegas, however, does not necessarily mean adopting its values. We can, and must, create ethical spectacles.” So says Stephen Duncombe, the author, most recently, of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, and several other books on the intersection of culture and politics. He is an associate professor at the Gallatin School of New York University and a life-long political activist.
The Changing Face of Consumer Marketing
How are alternatives in art, technology and creativity changing the way companies sell products? Sam Travis Ewen—the man behind the LED light boards that prompted officials to shut down Boston last year—has some answers. Ewen is chief executive officer of Interference Incorporated, a nationwide guerilla and alternative marketing agency which has created campaigns for GE, Discovery Channel, Netflix and HBO.
Corporations in the Classroom
Media studies pioneer Stuart Ewen looks at the way courses sponsored and designed by corporations are working their way into college classrooms, focusing on one revealing case study in which a curriculum was produced by a public relations firm working for a major business trade group. Ewen is distinguished professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College, and in the PhD Programs in History, Sociology and American Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Ewen is the author of All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture; Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture ; and PR! A Social History of Spin.

Your Consumer is Revolting: The History of Rumor Control in American Marketing
American corporations and government entities have long attempted to monitor, control and influence word-of-mouth communication in order to align it with their own interests. Marketing executive Jeffrey Graham will survey the development of rumor control, as the process is known, and the marketing industry's recent response to mass adoption of the Internet. Graham is executive director of customer insight at a major national newspaper based in New York City and a PhD candidate in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is a former senior vice president of strategic research at MediaVest, where he led all communication research for Procter & Gamble, and his clients have included Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Microsoft and Disney.
Why You Can Trust Comment and Opinion More Than News
Julia Hobsbawm looks at the triumph of “opinion media” over the news cycle, and how and why it may be more truthful, by focusing on newspapers and key blogs in the US and Britain. Hobsbawm is London’s first professor of public relations, at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts. She is chief executive of the media monitoring company Editorial Intelligence and a regular broadcaster for the BBC and Sky News on the late-night program Paper Review. She edited the collection of essays Where the Truth Lies: Trust and Morality in PR and Journalism (Atlantic Books, 2005).
How American Presidents Persuade the Public to Go to War
“It is not war that Americans hate, but, rather, unsuccessful wars,” says Eugene Secunda. For more than a century, the leaders of US governments have tried to “sell” wars to the American people. Secunda explains why a majority of them are more than willing to buy a war if it is properly packaged and skillfully marketed. He is an adjunct professor of marketing and media studies at New York University and co-author of Shifting Time and Space: The Story of Videotape (Praeger, 1991). He is a former executive in the New York offices of Barnum/Secunda Associates, J. Walter Thompson Company and N.W. Ayer International.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs, as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to twenty-nine interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns. Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events. Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in
the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

Submitted on: FEB 1, 2008

Category: Press Room