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Phyllis Kaniss, 59, Assistant Dean of Annenberg School

January 20, 2011
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Phyllis Kaniss, 59, a media critic and former assistant dean at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, died Dec. 17, 2010.

Raised in Northeast Philadelphia, Kaniss taught courses on the media and urban politics and policy for almost 30 years, and recently served as executive director of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She also created and directed the Student Voices Project, a program that brings local political candidates into student classrooms.

Kaniss, who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in regional science from Cornell University, was the author of two books, Making Local News, which studied media motivations in covering local news events, and The Media and the Mayor's Race: The Failure of Urban Political Reporting, an examination of media coverage of the 1991 Philadelphia mayoral race.

She also wrote several newspaper op-ed articles over the years.

Kaniss is survived by her husband, Paul Wheeling; sons Joshua Wheeling and Max Wheeling; sisters Judy Feder and Harriet Tancerman; and a brother, Alan Kaniss.

Memorial donations can be sent to: the University of Pennsylvania, Undergraduate Financial Aid Development, 3451 Walnut Street, 634B Franklin Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104, or go to: www.upenn.edu/gifts.

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