Danny Schechter, one of America’s best known, most talented, and effective progressive leaders renowned for his activism, and ground-breaking media making, died Thursday, March 19th in New York City, of pancreatic cancer.
Known as the “News Dissector” from his days at Boston radio station WBCN , Schechter was truly a renaissance progressive — with a long list of achievements and creative endeavors. He is probably best known for his passionate relationship with Nelson Mandela, fighting apartheid in South Africa, and the brilliant TV series South Africa Now produced by Globalvision, the New York City-based television and film production company he created with his long time business partner Rory O’Connor. South Africa Now was followed by Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television shown on domestic public television and more than sixty other countries during the period from 1992–1996. Schechter was also a producer for ABC’s news magazine 20/20, where he won two Emmys and was part of the start-up team that created CNN.
As Rory O’Connor, his business partner for more than three decades explains: “Danny always used to say that he got into making media because he wanted to do something about the problems of the world. (“It was until later,” he would then add, “that I learned the media was one of the problems of the world.”) He was the original “jactivist” — part journalist, part activist, always involved.
And he did “do something” about the world’s many problems, or at least tried. From Chile to South Africa to Vietnam to Bosnia and beyond, and from apartheid to human rights to the corporate media to the American economy “before the bubble burst,” the world not only often heard it first, it also heard it right — often years before they heard it anywhere else — from the News Dissector.