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Geoffrey Cowan

Geoffrey Cowan

University Professor of Journalism, Communication and Law

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Telephone: (213) 740-4466
Fax: (213) 740-4609
699 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074 USA Room: ASC 301B

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Geoffrey Cowan's academic interests are communications and law. He holds a joint appointment with the USC Annenberg School for Communication, where he served as dean from 1996 to 2007.

Cowan is the former director of Voice of America, a position to which he was appointed by President Bill Clinton. He also served as associate director of the United States Information Agency and director of the International Broadcasting Bureau. Earlier, he founded the Center for Law and Social Policy, a public interest agency which has represented civil rights groups, women's organizations, labor unions, and environmentalists in landmark FCC proceedings. He also is a founding member of the Vera Institute for Justice's Police Assessment Resource Center Board. In 2001, Cowan was appointed by California Govenor Gray Davis to a bipartisan commission on Internet political practices. In addition, he has worked as a television producer, receiving an Emmy Award as executive producer of the movie “Mark Twain And Me.”

Cowan graduated from Harvard University, where he received his BA, and Yale University, where he earned his LLB In addition to his numerous scholarly writings, he has authored books including The People v. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of 's Greatest Lawyer and See No Evil: The Backstage Battle Over Sex and Violence on Television.


  • Let The People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016).
  • The People v. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of America's Greatest Lawyer (Times Books, 1993).
  • See No Evil: The Backstage Battle Over Sex and Violence on Television (Simon and Schuster, 1979).
  • The Democratic Choice: Report of the Commission on the Democratic Selection of Presidential Nominees, co-author (1968).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Leading the Way to Better News: The Role of Leadership in a World Where Most of the ‘Powers That Be’ Became the ‘Powers That Were.” Discussion Paper Series, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University (February 2008).
  • “Moving from Monologue to Dialogue to Collaboration: The Three Layers of Public Diplomacy.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 616, No.1 (March 2008).
  • ‘Surge’ Meet ‘Escalation’ the fight for clarity in language: a case study. Columbia Journalism Review (November/December 2007).
  • “Whatever Happened to Local News?: The ‘Vast Wasteland’ Reconsidered.” 55 Federal Communications Law Journal 493 (May 2003). - (Hein)
  • "The Other Coast Weighs In" (with others). 39 Columbia Journalism Review 46 (March/April 2001).
  • "Another Voice." 38 Columbia Journalism Review 6 (1999).
  • Introduction to Forgive Us Our Press Passes (speeches by Daniel Schorr) (O'Brien Center for Scholarly Publications, 1998).
  • "The Legal and Ethical Limitations of Factual Misrepresentation." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 155 (November 1998).
  • "Criminal Enforcement of California's Occupational Health Laws: A Preliminary Analysis of Occupational Carcinogens Control Act Violations." 8 American Journal of Criminal Law 43 (1980). - (Hein)

Other Works

  • Top Secret (play about the Pentagon Papers). Produced by Los Angeles Theatre Works, National Tour 2007-2008 and broadcast by KPCC Public Radio, June 28, 2008. Six week New York City production scheduled for March-April, 2010.
  • "A Man for Some Seasons." American Lawyer 56 (December 1999).
  • Letter, "Voice of America: A Significant English Teacher" (with Nancy R. Hensel). The Christian Science Monitor, September 11, 1996, at 19.
  • "Yes, We're Still in Business: Does the Post-Cold War World Still Need Voice of America? Absolutely." 32 Across the Board 51 (May 2, 1995).
  • "Journalism Under the Gun; Radio: Voice of America Has Enemies Everywhere." Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1995, at B7.
  • "The Voice of America." Vital Speeches of the Day, August 15, 1994, at 649.


Buzzfeed News
March 18, 2018
Re: Niels W. Frenzen

Niels Frenzen was quoted on the lower evidentiary standard for arresting someone based on immigration status instead of a criminal act. The majority of immigration arrests in the United States are warrantless arrests, Frenzen said. "I don’t know if that is the case with this recent arrest in San Diego, but if CBP really had evidence that she was involved in a transnational human smuggling operation of some kind, that would definitely be a case where CBP would seek to criminally prosecute first and deport second," Frenzen said. "So the fact that CBP has arrested her on the civil law violations suggests that CBP does not have enough evidence to convince a judge to issue a criminal arrest warrant."


Robert K. Rasmussen
January, 2018

"Puerto Rico and the Netherworld of Sovereign Debt Restructuring," Workshop, Duke Law School, Durham, NC. 

Pauline Aranas
January, 2018

Pauline Aranas participated on a panel on "Effective Assessment:  Measuring Your Law Library's Impact" at the Association of American Law School's Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

Pauline Aranas
January, 2018

Pauline Aranas concluded her year-year term on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law School's Section on Law Libraries and Legal Information.