John M. Phelan
About John M. Phelan



Critical Praise


Framing Terror

Short Takes







Founding Director of both the Public Interest Communications Graduate Program and of the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center, Emeritus (2009) Professor of Communications and Media Studies, Phelan came to Fordham as Chairman of the then Communications Department to redesign the curriculum in 1968 when Marshall McLuhan was Schweitzer Professor of Communications. He later designed and established the Department's Graduate Program as well.

An activist member among many public interest groups, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Media Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, Phelan has addressed the UN NGO Committee for Disarmament at the UN Non-Proliferation Renewal Treaty Conference, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs during the anti-apartheid hearings, and the Biennial Congress of the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as international conferences on communications and politics in London, Madrid, Dubrovnik and elsewhere. He has appeared on CNN's International Hour as well as local cable political affairs programs and was the writer and talent for WFUV's Politics of Media series during the Gulf War and the presidential elections of 1988 and 1992.

Author of the "media" and "advertising" entries for Routledge's 1996 Encyclopedic Dictionary of Ethics and Society, Phelan has addressed media systems in the context of ethics, political economy, and literary criticism in all his major books: Apartheid Media: Disinformation and Dissent in South Africa (1987), done in association with the Yale-Wesleyan Southern Africa Research Program; Disenchantment: Meaning and Morality in the Media (1980); and Mediaworld: Programming the Public (1977).

His work has won the public praise of scholars such as Herbert Schiller [USC], James Carey [Columbia], Leonard Thompson [Yale], and Leonard Doob [Yale] and of activists such as Robert McChesney of Free Press [Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] and Michael Harrington, Chair of Democratic Socialists of America and creator of The Other America.

Phelan's Ph.D. in Communications was earned under Charles Siepmann at NYU and he was Research Affiliate for post-doc work at Yale's Center for International and Area Studies, Southern Africa Research Program.

At Fordham College Phelan has served as Senior Evaluator of the Values Program and as Seminar Director for the Honors Program for a decade. At various times he has initiated as well as offered the Public Communications Ethics Seminar; Senior Values Seminars in Dissent, in Censorship, in New Media Politics and undergraduate Honors Seminars in Mass Opinion. Since the renewal ratification of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Phelan had instituted an on-site Seminar in NGO Communications at the United Nations. This had led to further courses on Think Tank Lobbying as well as the establishment with James Van Oosting [Fordham] of Moral Citizenship and Media Literacy.