There are so many things one could say about the celebrated academic career of Elihu Katz. He is an author of 20 books and nearly 200 scholarly articles. He is an emeritus professor both at the Annenberg School for Communication, where he taught from 1993 until 2013, as well as at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was a major force behind establishing broadcast television in Israel.
No matter what you might choose to say about Katz, there is one indisputable fact about his 60+ year academic career: He has accumulated a whole lot of books.
Recently, that collection found a new home at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev with the inauguration of the Elihu Katz Collection in Communication Studies at the Zalman Aranne Central Library in Beer-Sheva, Israel.
Katz has donated his vast and lovingly-curated collection of communication books to Ben-Gurion’s Department of Communication Studies, which has recently undergone a major expansion.
On November 24, the Elihu Katz Collection was given a formal inauguration, and both Katz and Annenberg Professor Amy Jordan spoke at the day-long event.
Jordan made for the ideal choice to help celebrate the collection: Not only is she the president of the International Communication Association, but she also has special ties to Katz, both as a former Annenberg colleague and a fellow researcher in media effects.
Her talk, entitled “Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants: Media Use and Generational Identity,” took a future-orientation, arguing that the process of how we choose our ever-multiplying media channels — whether that be Facebook, video games, television, or anything else — reveals a great deal about people and their needs.
While Jordan and Katz decided on the theme of their talks independently, they ended up being a nice complement to one another, as Katz chose to consider how television was established and how different it is today.
In “The End of Television?” Katz looked back to an era where television was a collective gathering place for citizens, forming a kind of cultural anchor. Today’s diffuse programming no longer creates that sense of community, he argues.
“He talked wistfully about how it used to be the case that television created a common currency because everyone pretty much watched the same news and heard the same stories and reflected on the same issues, even if not necessarily in the same way,” explains Jordan, who also enjoyed the “spirited” Q&A that followed.
At 89, Katz is nominally retired, but Jordan reports that he’s still plenty busy. “He’s still actively thinking about communication issues and being called upon to participate in symposia and give talks,” she says. “He hasn’t missed a beat.”