Monroe Price
Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives

Oral History of Monroe Price (1938 - )

Oral History of Monroe E. Price, recorded in 2017 and 2018

Monroe E. Price (1938–), retired associate faculty at the Annenberg School, is a distinguished scholar of international communication. He has made notable contributions to a variety of fields over five decades of legal and communication scholarship, teaching, and institution-building, including Native American law, freedom of expression, media reform, and cross-border communication in the global system. Price founded the Annenberg School’s Center for Global Communication Studies in 2006, where he helped lead a series of projects on Iran, China, Jordan, Darfur, and Mexico, among others, before his retirement in 2020.

Monroe E. Price was interviewed by Jefferson Pooley on October 18 and November 29, 2017, and May 17, 2018, at the Annenberg School.

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Session One (October 18, 2017)

The session focuses on Price’s family background in Austria and Eastern Europe, his family’s escape to the United States in 1938, his childhood years in Cincinnati, and his journalism at Yale. The session lingers on Price’s experience in high school in suburban Cincinnati, including reporting for the school newspaper, his experience in a series of part-time jobs, and his relationship to the local Jewish community. Price’s visits to, and connections with, family members on both his father’s and mother’s side are discussed in the session. Price’s years at Yale are covered too, with a focus on his overseas reporting, in the UK, Moscow, and Cuba. Price discusses Yale faculty who influenced him, including Harry J. Benda and Charles Lindblom. The session concludes with a brief account of Price’s stint at American Heritage magazine.
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Session Two (November 29, 2017)

The session focuses on Price’s early career after graduation from Yale in 1960. His brief experience at the American Heritage publishing organization is discussed, as is his work as an advance man for the Robert Wagner mayoral campaign—including in the context of his ongoing interest in journalism. Price recounts his decision to attend the University of Virginia Law School for a year, before transferring to the Yale Law School, where he was exposed to influential faculty, including Fred Rodell, Telford Taylor, and Charles Reich. A class with Reich, in particular, spurred Price’s interest in Native American law, with copyright and communications law also a topic of Price’s interest at the Yale Law School. The session focuses on Price’s experience at the Warren Commission, helping alongside other clerks to prepare its report, the summer before Price took up a clerkship for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Price’s subsequent year working for Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz is recounted, before his move to Los Angeles to take up a law school faculty post at UCLA. The balance of the session centers on Price’s extensive work on, and scholarship about, Native American law in the 1960s and 1970s, including a decade-long representation of the Alaskan Cook Inlet Region group.
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Session Three (November 29, 2017)

The session focuses on Price’s engagement with media and communication via a series of commissions and while teaching and writing at UCLA, primarily in the 1970s, through to Price’s tenure as dean of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in the 1980s. Price describes his experience serving with the President’s Task Force on Communications Policy in Washington in the late 1970s. He also recounts the establishment of the UCLA Communications Law Program, under the leadership of Geoffrey Cowan, around the same time. The session includes Price’s account of his deputy directorship of the Sloan Commission on Cable Communications in the early 1970s, as well as his work on a citizen’s guide to cable television in this period. A sabbatical year in Paris in the early 1970s is touched upon, in terms of its de-centering for Price of the U.S. First Amendment. Price describes his decision to run for a newly established community college board, and his appointment as Referee in the mid-1970s in the aftermath of a major school desegregation case, Crawford v. Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles. Price briefly describes his role in establishing and helping to run an L.A.-based Jewish Television Network. The session touches on Price’s legal scholarship from the period, much of it focused on communication topics. Price provides an account of his deanship at Cardozo, and describes the background and reception of his 1991 book on AIDS, Shattered Mirrors.
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Session Four (May 17, 2018)

The interview covers Price’s turn to international projects after he stepped down as dean of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1991. Price describes his travel, scholarly projects, and relationships to research centers in Central Europe, the Balkans, Russia, India, and elsewhere, in the 1990s and early 2000s. The establishment of the Oxford Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy in the mid-1990s is discussed. Price recounts his close collaborations with Andrei Richter, Peter Krug, and Stefaan Verhulst. He describes projects for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Carter Center’s Commission on Radio and Television Policy, and the Markle Foundation. Price’s concept of the “market for loyalties” is discussed, in relationship to freedom of expression, media technologies, and sovereignty, and in relationship to a pair of single-authored book—Television, the Public Sphere, and National Identity (1996), Media and Sovereignty (2002)—and a number of edited volumes.
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Session Five (May 17, 2018)

The interview is primarily occupied with the period after Price joined the Annenberg School for Communication faculty in 2004. Price recounts the circumstances of his appointment, under then-dean Michael Delli Carpini, and the establishment of the Center for Global Communication Studies in 2006. Price describes his and the Center’s projects, including projects on Iran, China, Jordan, Darfur, and Mexico. The themes of strategic communication and the freedom of expression, in the context of cross-border communication among and between states and NGOs, is discussed. Price describes his approach to teaching, mentorship, and networking, including the forms of the research center and the edited book. His relationship to Elihu Katz and other Annenberg faculty is described.
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