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Chester, Jeff

Chester, Jeff

PERSONAL:

Education: California State University, San Francisco, B.A., 1975; University of California, Berkeley, M.S.W. 1978.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Center for Digital Democracy, 1718 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Ste. 200, Washington, DC 20009. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Foundation executive and writer. Center for Digital Democracy, Washington, DC, director. Previously worked a psychiatric social worker, investigative journalist, and documentary filmmaker.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Public interest Pioneer Grant, Stern Family Fund, 2001.

WRITINGS:

Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, New Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of the Digital Destiny Web blog. Contributor to periodicals, including Yes! magazine and the Nation.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jeff Chester has worked as the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and closely follows developments in electronic media, including broadband communications. In his first book, Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, Chester discusses how each generation of new communications technology, such as television, has gone from a media that promises to foster democratic communication to a highly controlled media run by big business and politicians. The author goes on to explore modern digital media, such as the Internet, and the constant monitoring that its users undergo, resulting in occurrences such as reports on individual habits for use by advertisers. The author goes on to suggest a policy agenda and reforms designed to keep the new broadband era democratic in nature. In an interview on the I Want Media Web site, Chester explained how he sees big media companies as a threat to the Internet. Chester noted that "they're absolutely a threat to the Internet, because these companies are using their political muscle to stop the FCC from having a safeguard to keep the Internet open and nondiscriminatory." The author added: "They're opposed to it because the business model of these media giants is about controlling the user experience. It's not about real competition or diversity of expression."

For the most part, Digital Destiny received widespread critical approval. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book a "complex, quixotic attempt to sway the American public from the temptation to ‘amuse itself to death.’" David Pitt, writing in Booklist, noted: "Cautionary role is too weak a term for this angry call for democracy, fairness, and a little old-fashioned common sense."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, p. 28.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of Digital Destiny, p. 1108.

Multichannel News, April 26, 2004, "Jeff Chester Gets on Cable's Case: ‘Problem Is, Cable Wants It All,’ Says Center for Digital Democracy's Gadfly-in-Chief," interview with author, p. 26.

PR Newswire, January 17, 2007, "Digital Destiny Warns That U.S. Is at Critical Public Interest Crossroad with the Internet and Other Digital Media."

Publishers Weekly, October 23, 2006, review of Digital Destiny, p. 46.

Yes!, spring, 2005, Jeffrey Chester and Gary O. Larson, "10 Steps to a More Democratic Media."

ONLINE

Boston Review,http://bostonreview.net/ (June 13, 2007), Jeff Chester and Gary O. Larson, "Digital Democracy: A Response to Reclaiming the Commons."

Center for Digital Democracy,http://www.democraticmedia.org/ (June 13, 2007).

I Want Media,http://www.iwantmedia.com/ (June 12, 2001), "Jeff Chester: ‘Big Media Companies Are a Threat to the Internet.’"

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