Steyer, James P(earson)

views updated

STEYER, James P(earson)


Born in New York, NY; married; wife's name Elizabeth; children: Lily, Kirk, Caroline. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1978, J.D., 1983.


HomeSan Francisco, CA. Office—Stanford University Center for Race and Ethnicity, Bldg. 240, Stanford, CA 94305-2152. E-mail—[email protected].


Entrepreneur, activist, and author. California Supreme Court, law clerk, then prosecuting attorney, c. 179; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund, former civil-rights attorney; East Palo Alto Community Law Project, founder and former chairperson, 1984; Stanford University School of Education and Department of Political Science, lecturer 1987—; Children Now, cofounder, 1988; JP Kids (media company), founder and CEO, 1996-2002; Common Sense Media, chairman and CEO, 2003—. Volunteer teacher since 1980s; host of weekly television segment Kids and the Media, KPIX Channel 5. Member of board of trustees, Stanford Alumni Association, Children Now, National Parenting Association, and San Francisco Free Clinic.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Stanford University Walter J. Gores award for excellence in teaching, 1982-83; Children Now Voice for Children Leadership Award, 1998.


The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media's Effect on Our Children, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor of articles and columns on civil rights, education, and children's issues to periodicals.


James P. Steyer is an author and award-winning faculty member at Stanford University who is also an expert on children's media in the United States. After graduating from Stanford, Steyer worked as a civil rights attorney specializing in cases dealing with poverty. He gained recognition as founder of the East Palo Alto Community Law Project, a legal office serving low-income families unable to afford to hire proper council. Despite his promising legal career, Steyer was haunted by memories of children he had once tutored in New York City's ghetto schools, and in 1988 he founded Children Now, a national advocacy and media organization.

As the father of three children, Steyer had a vested interest in the media and children's television programming. In 1996 he founded JP Kids, a family media company credited with creating successful television series for children such as the Disney Channel's The Famous Jett Jackson. Steyer also founded Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that serves both children and their parents as a resource for locating quality children's media.

Steyer's book The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media's Effect on Our Children is an in-depth examination of the media's role as the "other parent" to many U.S. young people. Leroy Hommerding, reviewing the book for Library Journal, concluded that "without demonizing the media, Steyer offers an in-depth look at the effects of TV, video games, and the Internet on today's kids and explains the lack of social responsibility in many media companies as they cater to stockholders over children." In an interview with Stanford magazine, Steyer cited the lack of educational programming for children as one of his major concerns about contemporary media. "In the media world, we have stripped away the very rules created both to protect kids and to enhance their lives," he explained, adding that this state leaves children "almost entirely to the profit-driven manipulations of a largely unregulated free market." Praised by industry experts for his initiative, passion, and insight, Steyer's book was described by Hommerding as a "balanced and stimulating study" that provides "practical strategies for parents, educators, and even the government."



Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Leroy Hommerding, review of The Other Parent: How the Media Shapes Kids' Lives, p. 169.

Stanford, November-December, 2002, "Spoiling Our Kids" (interview).


Common Sense Media, (June 9, 2003), "James P. Steyer."

Stanford University Web site, (June 9, 2003).

The Other Parent Web site, (November 16, 2003), "James P. Steyer."*