As well as being a full-time professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Michael has authored seven and co-edited three books examining the impact of American news media, advertising and Watergate on citizenship and public culture. These include Discovering the News (1978), The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life (1998) and Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press (2008). In 2009 he co-authored The Reconstruction of American Journalism, an influential Columbia Journalism School-sponsored report on the future of news.
Michael has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the Financial Times, and The San Diego Union. The Columbia Journalism Review, Wilson Quarterly, and The American Prospect have also published his articles.
For his pioneering contributions to the history and future of American news media, Michael was awarded the Murray Edelman distinguished career award from the political communication section of the American Political Science Association and the International Communication Association in 2004. He has also has received many honours, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Foundation 'genius' award and an honorary doctorate from the University of Groningen.