Martin
Kaplan

Research Professor of Communication and Journalism, Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society
Director, The Norman Lear Center
His wide-ranging experience in politics, journalism, entertainment and academia led Marty Kaplan to found the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which has been studying and shaping the difference media makes for more than 20 years.
His wide-ranging experience in politics, journalism, entertainment and academia led Marty Kaplan to found the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which has been studying and shaping the difference media makes for more than 20 years.
Expertise: 
Argumentation, Advocacy and Rhetoric, Entertainment, Ethics, Health, Media Literacy, Politics, Popular Culture, Science
Research and Practice Areas: 
Civic Engagement and Social Justice
Culture and Media
Health
News and Media Industries
Persuasion and Politics
Science, Technology and Innovation
Center Affiliation: 

Martin
Kaplan

Research Professor of Communication and Journalism, Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society
Director, The Norman Lear Center

Tabs

Since 2000, research professor Marty Kaplan has held USC’s Norman Lear endowed chair and directed The Norman Lear Center, a hub of research and innovation that marshals the power of storytelling as a force for good. He was associate dean of USC Annenberg from 1997 to 2007.

Kaplan’s research interests include campaign coverage on local TV news; the effects of public health messages in entertainment; the use of narrative to communicate science; and the impact of the attention economy on democracy.

He brings to USC Annenberg an uncommonly diverse background. In the Carter Administration, after serving as executive assistant to the U.S. Commissioner of Education, Kaplan became Vice President Walter F. Mondale’s chief speechwriter. As deputy campaign manager of Mondale’s presidential race, he directed the campaign’s speechwriting, issues and research operations.

He also worked at Walt Disney Studios for 12 years, first as vice president of production for live-action feature films, and then as a screenwriter and producer. He has credits on The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy, a political comedy he wrote and executive produced; Noises Off, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, which he adapted for the screen from Michael Frayn’s farce; and the action-adventure MAX Q, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

A frequent commentator on media, politics and pop culture, Kaplan has written columns that have won six first-place journalism prizes from the Los Angeles Press Club. He has also been a featured contributor to public radio’s All Things Considered and Marketplace.

The president of the Harvard Lampoon, Kaplan graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in molecular biology. As a Marshall Scholar to Cambridge University, he received a master’s in English with First Class Honours. His doctorate is from Stanford, where he received the university’s first PhD in modern thought and literature.

Awards and Honors

First Place, Columnist, Southern California Journalism Awards, Los Angeles Press Club (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Books

Warners’ War: Politics, Pop Culture & Propaganda in Wartime Hollywood, editor (Norman Lear Center Press, 2004).

What Is An Educated Person?, editor (Praeger, 1980).

Book Chapters

Crisis on Campus: Hopeful Responses, chapter: “Afterword: Educating for the Common Good” (State University of New York Press, 2015).

The Essential Bennis: Essays on Leadership, chapter: “Martin Kaplan on ‘An Invented Life: Shoe Polish, Milli Vanilli, and Sapiential Circles’” (Jossey-Bass, 2009).

What Orwell Didn’t Know, chapter: “Welcome to the Infotainment Freak Show” (Public Affairs, 2008).

Journal Articles

“How Narrative Functions in Entertainment to Communicate Science,” co-author (The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication, Oxford University Press, 2017).

Does Local News Measure Up?,” co-author (Stanford Law & Policy Review, 2007).