Steve Macek

Professor of Communication; Chair of the Department of Communication and Media Studies


+1 630 637 5369

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Dr. Steve Macek teaches courses on media studies, communication and the First Amendment. He is the author of Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right and the Moral Panic over the City (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), a critical analysis of media representations of American cities and the urban poor in the 1980s and 90s.  His articles on Chicago's radical and alternative press have been published in A.R.E.A. magazine and in the collection A Moment of Danger: Critical Studies in the History of US Communication since WWII  (Marquette University Press, 2011). His op-eds on media, politics, communication policy and academic freedom have appeared in newspapers such as The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The News and ObserverThe Seattle Times and The Columbus Dispatch and online publications like Truth Out and Common Dreams. Macek is currently writing a book about the history of film censorship in Chicago and in the summer of 2014 he co-curated an exhibition on the subject, Banned in Chicago: Eight Decades of Film Censorship in the Windy City, at the Museums at Lisle Station Park.       

Over the past few years, Macek has become increasingly involved in the work of national media watchdog group Project Censored. Students in his Media Criticism classes have contributed to the Project's annual list of "top 25 censored news stories of the year." He co-edited the main chapter on the 2020-2021 top 25 list in Project Censored's State of the Free Press 2022 (Censored Press/Seven Stories, 2021) with a North Central student, Isa Chudzik, and Project Associate Director Andy Lee Roth. Macek and three students (Shealeigh Voitl, Griffin Curran and Rachael Schwanebeck) also co-authored the "Deja Vu" chapter of the book. The year before, he and one of his students, Zach McNanna, co-authored the "Deja Vu" chapter of Project Censored's State of the Free Press 2021 (Seven Stories Press, 2020). Macek edited and introduced the "Media Democracy in Action" chapter for two previous Project yearbooks, Censored 2019: Fighting the Fake News Invasion (Seven Stories Press, 2018) and Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass (Seven Stories Press, 2019). He has also presented at Project Censored's conferences and has been a guest on the Project Censored radio show

A longtime member of the American Association of University Professors, Macek is past-President of NCC's chapter of the AAUP

Selected Scholarship


Urban Nightmares: The Media, The Right and the Moral Panic over the City.
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change It. Co-edited with Lee Artz and Dana Cloud. Peter Lang, 2006.

Scholarly Articles:

"Mobility, race, citizenship and Driving While Black," Mediapolis No. 2, Vol 6, April 6, 2021. 

With Andy Lee Roth, "Bias in American Media Has Little to Do with Partisan Politics," Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2021. Gale In Context: Opposing Originally published as "It's True That Corporate Media Is Biased—But Not in the Ways Right-Wingers Say," Truthout, 27 Nov. 2020.

“A Smog of Lies: The Media, The Environment and the Post-Truth Presidency of Donald Trump” in Perspectives on Environment, Social Justice, and the Media in the Age of Anthropocene. Edited by Elizabet Dobbins, Luigi Manca and Maria Lucia Piga. Lexington Books, 2020.

“Prior Restraint” in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Mass Media and Society. Edited by Debra L. Merskin. Sage Publications Inc., 2020.  

“Living in the disadvantaged end of ‘dual cities’: understanding the urban poor and the precariat,” The Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication. Edited by Zlatan Krijina and Deborah Stevenson. Routledge, 2019. 

“Gritty Urban Realism as Ideology: The Wire and TV’s Inner City” in The City after 9/11: Literature, Film, Television. Edited by Kieth Wilhite. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016.  

“Occupy the Media: Towards a Communication System for the 99 Percent” in Interdisciplinary Essays on the Environment and Culture: One Planet-One Humanity. Edited by Jean-Marie Kauth and Luigi Manca. Lexington Books, 2016. 

"The Perilous State of Academic Freedom in the 21st Century," First Amendment Studies (2015), 49: 1, 1-4.

“The Reporter’s Rebellion: The Chicago Journalism Review, 1968-1975” in A Moment of Danger: Critical Studies in the History of U.S. Communication Since World War II. Edited by Janice Peck and Inger Stole. Marquette University Press, 2011.

Essays and Op-Eds

Co-authored with Andy Lee Roth, "Can We Trust Corporate Media to Report on the Laws that Govern Them?," Truthout, November 28, 2022. 

Co-authored with Kathleen Minelli, "Corporate Media Has Failed to Accurately Report on the Threats to Women's Rights," Common Dreams, September 9, 2022.  

Co-authored with Shealeigh Voitl, "'The News that Didn't Make the News': How Media Ignore Important Stories about Gender Violence and Inequity," Ms. Magazine (Online), April 4, 2022. 

Co-authored with Andy Lee Roth,"Corporate Media Largely Ignore Labor Issues. Let's Make Them Visible," Truthout, January 17, 2022. 

Compiled and edited with Andy Lee Roth and Analisa Chudzik, "The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2020-2021," Project Censored's State of the Free Press 2022. Censored Press/Seven Stories Press, 2021

Co-authored with Shealeigh Voitl, Griffin Curran and Rachael Schwanebeck, "Deja Vu News: What Happened to Previous Censored Stories," Project Censored's State of the Free Press 2022. Censored Press/Seven Stories Press, 2021

Co-authored with Andy Lee Roth, "Corporate Media Harms Not Only Through Omission, But Also By Distortion," Truthout, November 15, 2021

Co-authored with Andy Lee Roth, "How the Biden Administration Can Rejuvenate Journalism After Four Years of Carnage," Common Dreams, December 14, 2020.  

Co-authored with Andy Lee Roth, "It's True That Corporate Media is Biased-- But Not in the Ways Right-Wingers Say," Truthout, November 27, 2020. 

Compiled and edited with Andy Lee Roth and Zach McNanna, "The Top Stories and Media Analysis of 2019-2020," Project Censored's State of the Free Press 2021. Seven Stories Press, 2020. 

Co-authored with Zach McNanna, "Deja Vu All Over Again: What Happened to Previous Censored Stories," Project Censored's State of the Free Press 2021. Seven Stories Press, 2020. 

"A bigger Sinclair is bad for TV and democracy," Raleigh News and Observer, September 12, 2017

"Nightmare Cities", Essay included in the program for The Treatment, Almeida Theater, London, UK, April 26-June 10, 2017

Edited and Introduced, "Media Democracy in Action," Censored 2020: Through the Looking GlassEdited by Mickey Huff, Andy Lee Roth and Project Censored. Seven Stories Press, 2019. 

Edited and Introduced, "Media Democracy in Action," Censored 2019: Fighting the Fake News Invasion. Edited by Mickey Huff, Andy Lee Roth and Project Censored. Seven Stories Press, 2018. 


Review of Knowledge, Power and Academic Freedom by Joan Wallach Scott (Columbia University Press, 2019), Illinois Academe. Spring 2020.

Review of The Contradictions of Media Power by Des Freedman (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), International Journal of Communication, Vol 12, 2018 

Review of Free Speech on Campus by Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman (Yale University Press, 2017). Illinois Academe. Spring 2018. 

Review of Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era  by Ellen C. Scott (Rutgers University Press, 2015). Film Criticism. Volume 40, no. 3 (July 2016)

Review of Blaming the Victim: How Global Journalism Fails Those in Poverty  by Jairo Lugo-Ocando (Pluto Press, 2015). Democratic Communique. Vol. 26, no. 1 (2015/ 2016) 

Review of Versions of Academic Freedom: From Professionalism to Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2014) by Stanley Fish. Illinois Academe. Spring 2015. (Reposted to Academe Blog, April 2015:

Review of Out of Bounds: Academic Freedom and the Question of Palestine (Bloomsbury, 2014) by Matthew Abraham. Illinois Academe. Spring 2014.

Review of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Encounter Books, 2012) by Greg Lukianoff. Academe Blog: The Blog of Academe Magazine. May 8, 2013. (Review reprinted in the fall 2013 issue of Illinois Academe).

Review of Prime Time Prisons on U.S. TV: Representation of Incarceration by Bill Yousman (Peter Lang, 2009). Democratic Communique 25 (Fall 2012): 53-57.


Courses Taught

COMM 185 Global Media in a Digital Age

COMM/GSST 389, Gender. Sexuality and Mass Media

COMM 335 Freedom of Expression

COMM 412 Media Criticism

COMM 415 Media Institutions

MEDI 315 History of Journalism

USS 300 Urban and Suburban Studies

MLS 590 Public Discourse