On Behalf of Journalism, is a document of hope for a difficult time. To journalisms many daunting challenges, it offers no easy cure, but a panorama of possibilities.
To embrace opportunity, of course, one must believe in the future and be open to the unknown. These are not common attitudes among journalists today, for all the old familiar reasons from the falling consumption of traditional media to the building distrust of those who provide it; from the relentless pressure on media companies to produce unusually high profit margins, to the fact, made so dramatically evident in the sale of Knight Ridder, that even aggressive efforts to comply do not ensure survival.
No wonder journalists find comfort in the way things were. The scrappy little Colorado newsroom that made a reporter out of me 35 years ago hummed with opportunity. In a competitive race with a larger newspaper, our readers passionately cheered us on. They relied on us and frequently told us so to tell them what they needed to know, to give them what they wanted to read. For most of us working in the craft in 1970, to be a journalist was very heaven. Even the criticisms thrown our way (many of which were valid) reflected the lofty status of journalism: It was arrogant, monolithic, exclusive, a fortress unassailable. Who was watching the watchdogs, people asked, fearful of the evident power of the Watergate-era press. And they cautioned: Never argue with those who buy ink by the barrel.
What about today? A mighty chorus is more than happy to argue with those who deal in ink or airtime wholesale. A thousand bloggers train keen unloving eyes on the watchdogs. There are fewer newspapers, fewer local owners, fewer (but larger) newspaper-owning companies. Pressure on broadcast operations to produce 40 percent profits has hollowed out news staffs across the country. Commercial radio news has all but been extinguished. As eyeballs and advertisers stage a mass migration onto new digital territories, the addictive grip of the profits that old media have trained Wall Street to expect has kept newsrooms from anything but grudging and belated forays to the new frontier.
With the old economic model of journalism collapsing, the people who do the work in the field have been uncertain that their craft will survive. Recently, however, the long-gathering weight of adversity seems to have triggered a tipping point. The near paralysis of unhappy nostalgia has given way to an urge to DO something about the looming questions: Who will keep journalism alive? Who will pay for this unique and expensive commodity original reporting that is so essential to self-governance and democracy? How will we ensure that the old values are translated into the new digital world?
There are hopeful prospects on the horizon. To pursue them, though, requires even more receptivity to change. Given the self-important, tradition-bound craft were dealing with, questioning dogma does not come easily. Journalists have good reason to feel they are keepers of a sacred flame. But were bad at identifying
which bits of our dogma are truly essential. Inverted pyramid and ink on paper? No. A commitment to public service and the fair representation of differing points of view? Yes. But what about ads on the front page: Are they a breach of that hallowed wall separating business and editorial? Are journalists well-advised to
run from anything smelling faintly of lobbying? Is it naive (not to mention inaccurate) to hold that government has no role in guaranteeing a free and responsible press? Can we put on the table for discussion the merits of credentialing journalists?
It is just such apparently heretical notions that we must open to light and air if we are to move forward. With the ground underfoot unknown and fast-shifting, journalists must be bold enough to scrutinize our many inviolate principles or be willing to abandon the lead role in the information revolution that a thriving democracy depends upon us to play.
This document seeks to bring attention to the bright spots and open prospects on a troubling landscape, to recognize promise where peril is more apparent. Different people will incline toward and reject different possibilities. But, taken together, these efforts to distinguish between what must be carried forward and what must be jettisoned, and to embrace new and hopeful steps into the future, can lead to a reinvention of journalism that is richer and better than the old, with its essential values intact. The story of American journalism is undergoing a dramatic rewrite. The pace of change makes many anxious, and denunciations are lobbed from all sides and from within. Its easy to overlook the promise of the many possibilities that lie before us. Our focus here is on those possibilities.
Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting
Missouri School of Journalism, Washington Bureau
In June 2005, a group of journalists, scholars and others concerned about the challenges confronting American journalism gathered at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The nine propositions below served as starting points for their discussion.
- A greater role for nonprofit organizations such as the Center for Public Integrity, the St. Petersburg Times and National Public Radio, along with foundation support could help lift all media.
- Citizens of a democracy have a responsibility to be informed. Media literacy courses, stronger civics education and other tools can create the environment of vigorous debate in which the press can thrive.
- Our society would be better served if journalists could make their voices heard more effectively in response to freedom of information challenges, reporters threatened with jailing, concerted efforts at misrepresentation of the press, and so forth.
- The media can significantly strengthen their own position by doing a better job of holding themselves accountable and making their work transparent.
- The essential role of a free and responsible press must be made a primary concern of the public. Only they can protect and sustain it. The discussion must be brought to public attention.
- More responsible corporate governance among media companies is essential if the costly work of original journalism is to be sustained.
- In this period of challenge and change, journalists would profit by seeking a clearer common understanding of ethics and good practices, and a deliberate recommitment to journalisms public-service role.
- New forms of media, the engagement of a richer array of people in producing media, and new ways of using media are transforming the landscape. An understanding of these changes, their potential and the challenges they pose, is essential to addressing the problems and opportunities confronting journalism.
- The government role in protecting, regulating, and supporting a free and responsible press demands thoughtful consideration and public discussion.
The long-building plaint is now undeniable: Journalism as we know it is over. A critical element of our democracy is threatened, for no self-governing people can long continue without a press that is not only free but also meets the basic needs of the citizenry. On a more hopeful note, new models are emerging fast. But they are attended by serious questions: What exactly are the elements of mainstream journalism that must be preserved? In the new, emerging models, who will pay for that journalism? And how, during the transition period, can we ensure that journalism in the public interest survives?
The challenge we face today has been long developing. The 1947 report of the Commission on Freedom of the Press familiarly called the Hutchins Commission, after the University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins who led it found very much the same conditions we find at this moment. The press, said this group of 13 distinguished scholars, was failing society in myriad ways. These faults and errors have ceased to be private vagaries and have become public dangers because the preservation of democracy and perhaps of civilization may now depend upon a free and responsible press. Although in many ways influential, the commission’s report had little practical effect on journalism. In no small part, this was because the media world from which none of the commission members came rejected its counsel.
Now, 60 years later, the Hutchins critique sounds familiar. Blessedly, though, the many years of ineffectual lament have turned at last toward a more constructive grappling with possible solutions. To look beyond the difficulties to the possibilities, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands in June 2005 gathered at the University of Pennsylvania some 40 journalists, scholars and news executives to talk about the role of the press in a democracy and what might be done to enhance it. The process was informed by, if different from, the Hutchins Commission work. Our project also was nourished by the just-previous publication of The Press, a volume of the Institutions of American Democracy series; by papers written by commission members and by surveys commissioned by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. From those sources, and from subsequent research and discussion, come these thoughts about an agenda for change.
I have always been firmly persuaded that our newspapers cannot be edited in the interests of the general public from the counting room — Franklin D. Roosevelt
On the 60th anniversary of the founding of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote the newspapers owner, Joseph Pulitzer, a letter: I have always been firmly persuaded that our newspapers cannot be edited in the interests of the general public from the counting room. The freedom of the press turns on the age-old conflict between moral principle and the gain-seeking instinct. There is nothing wrong about the gain-seeking instinct and nothing to criticize in it, provided it be kept in its proper place of subordination to moral principle.
By 2006, any question of subordination was long past. In Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company, the authors write: News has become secondary, even incidental, to markets and revenues and margins and advertisers and consumer preferences. At its worst, the publicly traded newspaper company, its energy entirely drawn to the financial markets unrealistic and greedy expectations, can become indifferent to news and, thus, ultimately to the fundamental purposes served by news and the press. Don Hewitt, until recently of 60 Minutes, has said that when he got into the business as a young producer, the ethic was Make us proud. Today, its Make us money.
It is the norm in the world of American business to place an emphasis on profitability an emphasis that has grown across most sectors of the economy in recent years. But journalism is not just another business. As Hutchins said to the National Conference of Editorial Writers in 1948, The sole test of the success of a steel business or a cracker business may be, for all I care, its ability to make money, but the public concern with the large elements in the newspaper business suggests that, though a newspaper must make money to stay in business, it should meet a further test; it is proper to ask whether it is discharging its responsibility for public enlightenment.
Today, that test is widely being failed.
A principal reason for the media’s failure to live up to its obligation to place the public good on a par with Wall Street’s demands is the changing nature of media ownership in recent decades. Most media now are owned by large, publicly traded corporations. When the much-respected newspaper owner John S. Knight spoke to analysts at the first gathering after taking his newspapers public in 1969, he told them: Ladies and gentlemen, I do not intend to become your prisoner. Yet his company, Knight Ridder, became exactly that in 2006, when shareholders unhappy with the level of returns despite years of cuts put in place to support those returns forced the sale of the corporation to the McClatchy Company.
Its too easy to call this greed. But it is unquestionable that a system of expectations has built up over time that will be very hard indeed to tear down. The change was led by Gannett’s Al Neuharth through an emphasis on earnings management smoothing out the cycles of the industry by expanding in good times, cutting in bad and a demand for quarter-by-quarter profit improvements. The system trained Wall Street to expect quarterly gains and extraordinarily high returns. It worked for years, industry-wide, even as circulation declined. Compensation for executives was tied to economic performance. Cuts in spending kept budgets up to corporate headquarters expectations. Training all but disappeared, becoming journalists chief complaint in an American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) finding in 2002. Foreign bureaus were closed. Celebrity news replaced the far more expensive investigative reporting. The industry became known for some of the highest margins around and some of the lowest expenditures on research and development. Being a cash cow, one wag has noted, IS a business strategy.
But addictions usually end badly, and this one has. Even the best efforts of executives like Knight Ridder’s Tony Ridder could not keep pace with Wall Streets expectations. And many now believe the model simply cannot work. John Carroll, after leaving the editorship of the Los Angeles Times, told Ken Auletta of the New Yorker in October 2005 that he saw the Times under Tribune Company ownership as test case No. 1 of whether a newspaper chain can produce a first-rate newspaper. As Carroll added, It may be that it is simply structurally impossible.
It is important to note that not all ownerships are the same. Knight Ridder, like Gannett, was a wholly publicly traded newspaper company. Among those ending up with its newspapers are two companies representing different models. McClatchy has a two-tiered stock-voting structure, which enables the family to retain some control. It also has a philosophy of buying newspapers in thriving areas with promising growth, which has contributed substantially to its reputation for being both journalistically strong and economically sound. The ownership model is similar in structure to that of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. It is no coincidence that most of the best newspapers in the country fall into this ownership category.
Other Knight Ridder papers went to Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group, which represents another kind of newspaper company, one that is privately owned. The list of privately held companies also includes Advance Publications (Newhouse), which has kept the New Orleans Times-Picayune alive through long months of adversity, and which has strengthened the Oregonian and other papers it owns. Nonetheless, both two-tiered and privately owned companies have been making their own cuts in recent years, partly because of the general pressure created by the performance of the publicly traded companies, and partly because of the many challenges confronting newspapers as circulation declines and as advertising moves elsewhere. And there are now signs of pressure to change the existing protective tiered ownership. In the wake of the Knight Ridder sale, Morgan Stanley Investment Management withheld votes for New York Times Company’s director nominees to protest the company’s management, and called for the end of the dual stock structure.
Over recent decades, the emphasis on short-term profitability has meant not only lack of training and frequent buyouts of veteran talent, but decreased amounts of space in newspapers and airtime in radio and television and failure to invest in new models of delivery or improvements in news in other words harvesting. What society demands is not only a free press, which is widely understood to be essential to a democratic society. What is needed, as well, as one of the supplements to the Hutchins Commission put it is to have an adequate press. That is what is threatened.
Given the existing dominance of corporate media ownerships, what might be done to protect and nurture American journalism? Could the constraints be addressed in constructive ways? Lawrence E. Mitchell, professor at George Washington University Law School and director of the Sloan Program for the Study of Business and Society, spoke to our gathering at Penn on this topic. He recommended that steps be taken to give corporate managers a greater degree of insulation from the stock markets, enabling them to focus on longer-term goals. This could come through election of board members for longer terms and through changes in the incentives for investors. Punitive taxes could be imposed on short-term stock trading and tax forgiveness on long-term holding steps we will discuss in a later section on government actions.
The question of how to bring a greater sense of public responsibility to the corporate governance of media companies has been widely discussed in recent years in sessions at the Aspen Institute, the Carnegie Corporation, the Nieman Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, sessions that have brought together journalists and academic and business leaders. Visible results have been few. One group of former editors, including the author, wrote to the CEOs and board members of the nation’s 14 largest publicly owned newspaper companies in 2002 , making some suggestions for their consideration. The suggestions grew out of work done by Gil Cranberg and others for their book Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company. The group urged that the companies appoint to their boards of directors members with substantial journalism experience. We urged them to designate a director or directors with special responsibility to monitor the company’s editorial performance and to oversee newsroom compensation.
We urged that incentive compensation for corporate officers be tied in significant part to achieving journalistic quality, and that stock options for newsroom staff and outside directors not be permitted. While some executives responded that they do include journalists on their boards, a couple of the most respected said the last thing in the world they wanted was the board involving itself in matters of journalism. Ironically, they cling to the old notion that a wall must exist between journalism and the business of journalism; yet in most media companies business decisions have long since trumped lofty public-service principles.
Another possibility for reform lies in bringing to bear on the corporate media world the concept of socially responsible investing (SRI). At our gathering at Penn, the suggestion was made that shareholders be organized to grade media companies on set standards of journalistic excellence. A similar idea came from Marc Gunther, writer for Fortune Magazine and author of Faith and Fortune: The Quiet Revolution to Reform American Business, who wrote to me of the potential power of institutional investors, especially in the SRI community, of activist groups and especially of newspaper employees. Noting that such groups have been able to change companies from Staples to Nike to Ford to Citigroup, he put me in touch with Steve Lippman, who works for Trillium, an SRI money manager, working with shareholder activists. Lippman says his Open Media & Information Companies Initiative seeks to provide a reporting framework for responsible media by setting up assessments on how well the media companies fulfill a set of responsibilities such as serving the public interest, informing the electorate and reflecting the diversity of the communities they serve.
Some companies have come to see Trillium as an early warning system, Lippman told me. We tend to be better than they are at seeing what’s coming at them climate change, or lawsuits for ties to repressive regimes around the world. Consequently, he said, he feels that Wall Street has become much more responsive in recent years to SRI, with more emphasis on such issues as fuel efficiency. Applying those principles to the media world could strengthen the position of journalism against profit pressures.
Bringing to the attention of corporate media managers the notion that good journalism is good business is the tactic of other media-reform hopefuls, including academics like Esther Thorson of the Missouri School of Journalism and Steve Lacy of Michigan State University, who edited the winter 2004 issue of the Newspaper Research Journal on the topic. The hope is that proof of this linkage could encourage greater investment in newspaper excellence. Some feel that what is needed is a dedicated unit within the larger organization that is sheltered from the profit pressures, guaranteeing adequate funding even as the overall business model does not. Former CNN broadcaster Judy Woodruff suggested to our group that there be established in media companies, a unit, a division, a department that is not expected to return the kind of quarterly profits the rest of the operation is. Stan Tiner, editor of the Biloxi Sun Herald, proposed something similar: a newsroom trust that would allow newspapers to balance their obligation to investors with the obligation to journalism. Foundations and individual donors, says Tiner, could contribute to excellence in journalism through a protected funding formula based on a portion of local gross revenues. A Yale media ethics course charged with devising a proposal for the protection of newsroom independence and integrity in a changing media environment came up with a newsroom fund supported by a portion of online revenues to reward excellence in the newsroom. In a national model based on similar thinking, a 2000 Ford Foundation gathering agreed on the need for a partnership for quality journalism to be established with funds from media companies. These ideas might be a hard sell to today’s newspaper executives, many of whom may feel they are engaged in a struggle for their very survival. Yet they call needed attention to a journalism organizations obligation to provide public service and by implication to the failure of so many today to do so.
It is tempting to wish that the expectations of Wall Street could simply be adjusted to reflect the need to invest in good journalism and the ever-greater difficulty of producing the profits to which the Street has become accustomed. And it is nice to believe, as the professor in charge of the Yale experiment reasoned, that ultimately the confidence of the consumer will attach to the news organizations that demonstrate consistent, uncompromising ethical standards. But ultimately is a long way off. And the crisis in journalism is quite immediate.
The private press baron of the past might have been a blow-hard propagandist with the ethics of a wharf rat, but at least he loved the trade — Douglas McCollam
So how about escaping the expectations? Taking public companies private is an idea that has been mentioned in the past by McClatchy’s Gary Pruitt, among other media CEOs. In a January/ February 2006 article in the Columbia Journalism Review, Douglas McCollam wrote that this notion of reversing John Knights move and returning public companies to privately held status would be a fine solution. What newspapers really need, above all else, is ownership that values journalism and understands that the work of gathering, writing and publishing the news is an inherently inefficient business that is in a period of profound transition. The private press baron of the past might have been a blow-hard propagandist with the ethics of a wharf rat, but at least he loved the trade. While there is no guarantee that the private ownership of today would recognize the value of journalism, it has already been established that Wall Street does not. Maybe its time we took our chances.
Most sizable cities have wealthy residents for whom the idea of owning a still quite-profitable and undeniably influential newspaper would hold great appeal. As in the past, local ownership might be self-aggrandizing and blind to local needs, or it might be enlightened and responsive, but its prospects are at least different from those of the distant, publicly traded corporation. The return to private ownership of several of the Knight Ridder newspapers in San Jose, Philadelphia and Akron, among others will produce interesting test cases.
SPOTLIGHT: Philadelphia Inquirer
In one of the most closely watched transfers of ownership back to private hands, the Philadelphia Inquirer and its sister paper, the Philadelphia Daily News, were purchased for $562 million by a group of local business leaders and investors in May 2006.
Since 1969, the papers had been owned by Knight Ridder Inc., which, as Knight Newspapers, Inc., purchased them from Walter Annenberg. The Annenberg family had owned the Inquirer since 1936; the Daily News since 1957.
Facing criticism from Wall Street about lagging revenues, Knight Ridder agreed to be acquired by the McClatchy Co. of California for $4.5 billion. McClatchy immediately put its Philadelphia holdings (plus 10 other Knight Ridder publications) on the auction block. Although several media corporations considered acquiring the two Philadelphia papers, in the end it was a hometown consortium that put forth the winning bid.
Financial analysts marveled at the gutsiness of the purchase. Journalists voiced concerns about editorial independence. (Most of the investors have long-standing business or political ties to the Philadelphia region. None has ever owned a newspaper.) Some observers saw the acquisition as a new trend that may prove to be the last best hope for traditional media, with the outcome by no means guaranteed.
As Inquirer and Daily News publisher Joe Natoli declared: We are about to become a laboratory for newspaper local ownership.
If commercial media are increasingly showing themselves incapable of meeting democracy’s needs, one model has been meeting them with growing success: the nonprofit media world. Consider National Public Radio, whose listenership has doubled in the past decade. NPR funding comes from foundation grants, corporate grants and sponsorships, licensing fees and contributions from listeners with no requirement to produce a profit. As other media have lost readers and listeners and viewers, NPR has been thriving on a model of greater investment, creating new programs, increasing its investigative reporting edge, sending more reporters overseas rather than withdrawing them .
Nonprofits have long played a key role in American media. One of the most important journalism institutions in the country, the Associated Press, is a cooperative owned by its members. The St. Petersburg Times is owned by the Poynter Institute, the educational organization created by Nelson Poynter to protect his papers future from unpredictable business pressures and keep it independent, rather than subject it to the whims of his descendants.
Of course, such self-sacrifices among wealthy business owners are rare (more on this in a later section about steps the government could take to enhance the potential for them) but the Ayres family of Anniston, Ala., has arranged to turn their Anniston Star into a nonprofit teaching newspaper. Other nonprofit include the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader and the Christian Science Monitor, an initiative of the First Church of Christ Scientist, which established it as a paper that would resist the sensational in favor of the meaningful.
There are many smaller yet quite influential nonprofit organizations. When Charles Lewis found that he couldn’t do the kind of long-form investigative work he wanted to do on CBS’s 60 Minutes, he left to found an organization that could do such work. Now the Center for Public Integrity, in Washington, D.C., provides the kind of reporting that few commercial media are doing in these profit-above-public-service days. It was, for example, the Center that broke the Lincoln bedroom story involving big donors during the Clinton administration and identified Enron chairman Ken Lays career patronage of George W. Bush. Then there is the new organization founded by Jon Sawyer, former Washington bureau chief of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who took a buyout after Lee Enterprises Inc. bought the paper from Pulitzer Inc. Sawyer, with foundation support, established the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to encourage more coverage of foreign policy issues. Among the Center’s commitments is to enable newspapers that no longer invest in substantial international reporting to do so by providing financial support.
Local journalism is being enhanced by nonprofit as well. The Gotham Gazette (www.gothamgazette.com) is a Web site published every weekday, focusing on issues facing New York City. It is published by the Consumers Union Foundation of New York, a nonprofit, and supported by foundations. Meanwhile, the world of ideas has long been dominated by nonprofit: Harpers Magazine, for example, is underwritten by a foundation.
Nonprofits have vigorously supported journalism, as well, from the mid-career programs at Harvard and Stanford and Michigan to the remarkable work of the Knight Foundation, with a 2005 commitment of some $ 6 million in new journalism initiatives, and Gannett’s Freedom Forum, whose nearly $60 million spent on the Media Studies Center produced some of the most important writing on journalism in the past century. Training, that much-missed newsroom necessity, is supported by several nonprofit, including the Poynter Institute, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting and Investigative Reporters and Editors. The Pew Charitable Trusts has backed experiments in civic journalism, and it established state-line.org to support and enrich the coverage of statehouses across the country.
Internationally, too, nonprofit are increasingly important journalism providers. Independent World Television, based in Toronto, seeks to build a global nonprofit independent news network online and on television. And the newspaper that has been the world leader in holding itself to high standards of accountability (more on that topic in the next segment), the Guardian in the United Kingdom, is also a not-for-profit operation.
Let us be blunt. Allowing charitable foundations to pay for the news might be risky, but is probably no worse than a system in which advertisers pay for it — Phil Meyer
Surely this is a model whose influence could be extended. The Center for Public Integrity’s founder Charles Lewis told our group at Penn that nonprofit journalism could help lift the quality of all journalism by offering an unfettered place to do unfettered journalism We should have a Marshall Plan by foundations and philanthropic folks to support nonprofit models, he said. We have a robust civil society, but a fragile one. There’s got to be a serious commitment here.
Karen Brown Dunlap, president of the Poynter Institute, agreed about the many benefits of nonprofit status, but she also raised concerns, including the key question: Who controls the news agenda? Phil Meyer, University of North Carolina journalism professor, acknowledges this risk in his The Vanishing Newspaper but adds: Let us be blunt. Allowing charitable foundations to pay for the news might be risky, but is probably no worse than a system in which advertisers pay for it.
However they are employed, and by whom, journalists themselves hold several keys to the fate of their craft. Journalists tend to see their work as a calling, and their faith in that calling has been badly shaken by the years of unsettlement. It was taken for granted and that’s the problem that journalists would be able to act in the public interest. The challenges of recent years have delivered a pummeling to that aspiration. Morale is low. The book Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet found journalists to be a powerful example of misalignment between the hopes of the workers and the realities of the work. It is hard to do good work when the underpinnings of the craft are fraying.
Audience for NPR Programming:
2000: 14.7 million
2001: 16.6 million
2002: 19 million
2003: 22 million
2004: 22 million
2005: 25.3 million*
2006: 26 million*
(* including newscasts)
New Foreign Bureaus:
2004: Hanoi, Vietnam and Dakar, Senegal
Total foreign bureaus and offices: 16
New beats created since Fall 2004: Media, labor and workplace, science and technology, White House (2nd position), crime and punishment, environment
Current budget for news operations: $50 million
The resulting impact on the quality of journalism would seem to be palpable. There was a surprising strength of criticism at our Penn conference about the bland porridge as the Missouri School of Journalism’s dean, Dean Mills, put it that is journalism. Comparing today’s journalism to more compelling forms of media, political science scholar Doris Graber spoke of a boring collection of facts that the average person can’t make much sense of, can’t relate to in their own lives. Her comments call to mind the much-remarked-upon failures of media recently: The long-standing underreporting on poverty that became so clear after Katrina struck. The paucity of probing reporting during the buildup to the Iraq war. The rote and often all-but-intelligible journalism that routinely emerges from statehouses and city halls across the country. These signs of reduced journalistic quality, tied to the struggle to maintain profitability, echo another Hutchins Commission observation: Too much of the regular output of the press consists of a miscellaneous succession of stories and images which have no relation to the typical lives of real people any where. The result is a meaninglessness, flatness, distortion, and the perpetuation of misunderstanding.
The press emphasizes the exceptional rather than the repress¬entative; the sensational rather than the significant. The press is preoccupied with these incidents to such an extent that the citizen is not supplied the information and discussion he needs to discharge his responsibilities to the community.
Ethics: It is promising to think that journalists could find a cure for some of these ills through a clarification of and a recommit¬ment to the core values of the craft.
Journalism is famous for refusing the notion of any one unified code. Yet ethics codes exist throughout the industry. Virtually every media outlet has one, and scores of organizations do, as well. ASNE has a list of about 70 ethics codes from various news organizations at http://www.asne.org.
It is worth noting that the news from the journalism ethics front, despite recent scandals, is far from all bad. A study by two researchers, from the Missouri School of Journalism and Louisiana State University, used a test designed to measure reactions to ethical dilemmas with 240 reporters across the U.S. It found journalism to be one of the most morally developed professions in the country, behind only seminarians, physicians and media students.
Thinking like a journalist involves moral reflection, done at a level that in most instances equals or exceeds members of other learned professions, said Missouri’s Lee Wilkins, one of the researchers. You wouldn’t get such a good report, however, from the public. In the May 2005 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll of both journalists and the public, 86 percent of journalists but only 5 percent of the public said news organizations generally get their facts straight. Meanwhile, 8 percent of the public and only 11 percent of journalists said news organizations were often inaccurate.
Awareness of the low level of public trust has been one goad for the efforts at ethical recommitment already in evidence. Major media organizations have been strengthening their ethics codes, particularly in regard to anonymous source usage. (Having reporters facing jail time has concentrated the minds of many on this issue of anonymity.) At the Curtis B. Hurley symposium, Seduction of Secrecy, at the National Press Club in 2005, leading journalists pledged to press harder for on-the-record quotes and briefings and also to step up their reporting on secrecy.
As to broader ethical commitments, there are numerous organizations seeking to strengthen ethics in journalism. The Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ) statement speaks of journalisms purpose as providing citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society. CCJ’s nine core principles, which could be described as a theory of journalism: its first obligation is to the truth, its first loyalty is to citizens, its essence is a discipline of verification, etc. can be found at
Unfortunately, the ideal of objectivity has in practice in today’s newsrooms become a subtle but powerful means of self-censorship… It has become a crutch for journalistic practices that work against civic aims — Doug McGill
Objectivity: One clear sign of the lively debate about ethics is the ongoing questioning of the principle of objectivity. Many believe that this tenet of American journalism has morphed into a false balance, a tyranny of evenhandedness. Little more than He said-she said journalism. Others charge that the degree of detachment that objectivity has seemed to require of journalists is an element in its failure which made that rare moment of unqualified journalistic success accompanying Hurricane Katrina all the more remarkable. Reporters (most notably Anderson Cooper of CNN) showed their hearts. Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff: How is it possible that you could not have known on late Thursday, for instance, that there were thousands of people in the convention center, who didn’t have food, who didn’t have water, who didn’t have security, when that was being reported on national television? Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times wrote a piece headlined Reporters Turn from Deference to Outrage. Readers and viewers loved it. Even months later, the New York Times on April 10, 2006, quoted a reader in New Orleans, saying: These writers are energized and passionate. She wasn’t a big fan of the paper before Katrina, she said, but now if she misses a day, I feel so out of touch. A head line accompanying the story summed it up: Coverage driven by shared grief over losses and hope for rebuilding.
Coverage driven by grief and hope is exactly not what objectivity has been. The commitment to being dispassionate often felt to consumers like a lack of concern. Disinterest came across as uninterested and uninteresting. More and more, Americans are trusting the information they get from sources with a voice, including comedy programs like The Daily Show, documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth or theater like Stuff Happens, and Fox News’s remarkable growth stems in significant part from its clear point of view. Craig Newmark of craigslist voiced what many believe when he said in an AP article: The reason why newspapers are losing circulation is that too many traditional journalists are willing to quote politicians and business executives even if they’re blatantly lying merely for the sake of perceived objectivity. Bloggers debate the question Is objectivity over? and journalists ponder replacing it with comprehensiveness, proportionality, balance, fairness. But, What’s Fair? asked a Media Studies Journal title, from 1998, citing an old question that is more difficult to answer than ever. The cycle of story, spin and counter spin that surrounds the White House is only the most obvious part of the problem. The blurring of the line between the public and the private, breakdown in trust in government stories, commercial pressures and the speeding up of news cycles with new technology: All challenge the old construct of objectivity.
Critiquing not the ideal of objectivity but its application, former New York Times reporter Doug McGill wrote: For more than a century, objectivity has been the dominant professional norm of the news media. It has at its heart the noble aim of presenting indisputable facts upon which everyone in society can agree, and build upon towards the goal of a better society. Unfortunately, the ideal of objectivity has in practice in today’s newsrooms become a subtle but powerful means of self-censorship. Its a conglomeration of contradictory practices that serve the purpose of rationalization as often as investigation. It has become a crutch for journalistic practices that work against civic aims. McGill believes that journalisms failure to serve the public interest, which has been so pronounced in recent years, is in large part traceable to the breakdown of the norm of objectivity as a practical and ethical guide. His October 2000 essay on objectivity and discussion of what it might be replaced with can be found at http://journalism.nyu.edu.
Writers freed of artificial objectivity can try to determine the whole truth about their subject and then tell it whole to the world. I am perhaps not the only journalist who has written for both news and editorial and felt perhaps more compelled to gain the whole picture before opining — Michael Kinsley
Another effort comes from the Center for Social Media at American University, which has a project on the Future of Public Media funded by the Ford Foundation aimed at countering blind adherence to balance in public broadcasting and seeking to identify creative approaches to solutions. Michael Kinsley, in his Slate column, writes of the twilight of objectivity and how other fields have disavowed the notion of an objective reality that words are capable of describing. Would it be the end of the world if American newspapers abandoned the cult of objectivity? Kinsley asks, offering some reassuring models of what a post-objective press might look like. These include newspapers like the Guardian or Financial Times of London, and newsmagazines. Writers freed of artificial objectivity can try to determine the whole truth about their subject and then tell it whole to the world. I am perhaps not the only journalist who has written for both news and editorial and felt perhaps more compelled to gain the whole picture before opining. You can more readily pass off a news story as complete, he notes, if you simply have enough quotes.
Many believe that the heart of the problem is mistaking balance for objectivity; the latter, they say, should be defined by process. Tom Rosenstiel and Bill Kovach of the Committee of Concerned Journalists treat this matter in the Elements of Journalism, calling for a process of verification. UNC’s Phil Meyer, as far back as 1973, argued that the scientific method could enable the journalist to reduce the size of the leap from fact to interpretation and to find a more solid base of fact from which to leap.
A change in the nature of journalism’s commitment to objectivity is probably coming whether journalists embrace it or not. For one thing, the tone of journalism is very different online, with inevitable impact on traditional media. For another, the public here again feels differently from journalists. The Annenberg 2005 survey showed that the American public disapproves only narrowly of partisan journalism while journalists disapprove heartily: 16 percent of the 673 journalists polled and 43 percent of the 1,500 members of the public said it was a good thing if some news organizations have a decidedly political point of view in their coverage of the news. Eighty percent of journalists and 53 percent of the public said it was a bad thing.
If objectivity is less secure in the role of ethical touchstone than it has been, there are ethical components that are increasing in importance.
Accountability: For all the change afoot, journalists can considerably strengthen their own position by doing a better job of holding themselves accountable and making their work transparent. This movement toward greater accountability is gathering strength, as shown by the record of organizations at http://www.media-accountability.org, assembled by the world master on accountability, Claude-Jean Bertrand, a professor emeritus at the Institut Français de Presse. These systems take many forms, from ombudsmen to journalism reviews to reader advisory councils. They are established to reassure readers who have long wondered who is watching the watchdog and, not incidentally, to ward off government regulation. One way to strengthen such organizations would be to create a network among them. Steve Lacy of Michigan State has proposed a network, for example, of media critics throughout the country. All kinds of critics, from alternative weeklies to blogger to mediachannel.org are contributing their own kind of accountability to the media climate today, as are a growing number of journalists covering media in newspapers, magazines and online. Collaboration could strengthen their effectiveness. For their part, ombudsmen have established such a network, which can be found at http://www.newsombudsmen.org. While the number of ombudsmen still hovers below 50, out of 1500 or so daily newspapers, the position has recently been created at important outlets such as the New York Times and PBS. College newspapers, too, are adding numbers to the movement.
Making news organizations work more transparent is one of the key elements of holding them accountable. An Aspen Institute report from 2005, Journalism Transparency and the Public Trust, offers recommendations from publication of e-mail addresses and holding of community forums to internal audits. Evidence that transparency is fast taking hold is seen in the criticism now arising about excesses of soul-baring. A spring 2006 American Journalism Review story, Just How Transparent Should News Organizations Be? featured longtime editor and former president of the Poynter Institute James M. Naughton saying: We used to think that there was virtue in not focusing on ourselves. But, as the Aspen conferees noted, Journalists and media executives must adapt themselves and their news organization to a world that demands greater transparency and accountability or risk diminishing the special trust they hold or, worse, becoming irrelevant to a vast segment of the public.
The effort can be painful. As Kathleen Carroll, AP senior vice president, has said, I know editors who are practically paralyzed in their newsrooms because they have been exhorted to be more responsive to their communities, but there’s a community of people who just want to scream at you. They don’t want to engage in a dialogue. Many a reporter whose e-mail address is published with his or her news stories says the choice becomes responding to everyone or doing the next reporting assignment. In this way, accountability and transparency, unless handled well, can be the enemy of good journalism.
The most advanced version of this commitment to account¬ability and transparency is the nonprofit publishing venture behind the United Kingdoms Guardian newsroom. It conducts an annual Social, ethical and environmental audit called Living our values, which shows how richly responsive a genuine commitment can be (http://www.guardian.co.uk).
All across America, there are offices that resemble newsrooms, and in those offices there are people who resemble journalists, but they are not engaged in journalism. It is not journalism because it does not regard the reader or, in the case of broadcasting, the listener, or the viewer as a master to be served — John Carroll
Professionalization: Beyond the need for an ethical recom¬mitment and for the kind of transparency and accountability that can engender trust, some believe that a commitment to greater professionalization must be a part of journalisms resurgence from troubling times. The idea is anathema to traditionalists. A craft full of independent-minded folks wants to hear nothing that smacks of credentialing. Yet when Phil Meyer took to the American Copy Editors Society his idea of naming master copy editors, there was considerable enthusiasm. Such a notion calls to mind journalisms yesterdays, when something much more like an apprenticeship system reigned in many newsrooms. Susan Tifft, author and longtime journalist and now a Duke professor, noted at our Penn conference the increasing reliance on credentialing in our society, as choices become more and more numerous. Yet, she noted, journalists have no way of credentialing themselves. We must work to institutionalize apprenticeships that embody the standards that journalists bring to their jobs and we must resist the downsizing forces that push out master journalists, she advised.
One argument for taking steps to professionalize journalists is that more and more people are passing themselves off as journalists, whether in White House press conferences or online. John Carroll, while still editing the Los Angeles Times, lectured in 2000 at the University of Oregon on The Wolf in Reporters Clothing: the Rise of Pseudo-Journalism in America, decrying the array of talk shows and web sites that have taken on the trappings of journalism but, when studied closely, are not journalism at all. All across America, there are offices that resemble newsrooms, and in those offices there are people who resemble journalists, but they are not engaged in journalism. It is not journalism because it does not regard the reader or, in the case of broadcasting, the listener, or the viewer as a master to be served.
WHO’S A JOURNALIST? Depends on Whom You Ask
About as many Americans consider Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, to be as much of a journalist as Bob Woodward, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor who broke the Watergate story with Carl Bernstein.
In a 2005 national survey conducted for the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 27 percent of adults said Limbaugh was a journalist; 55 percent said he was not, and 18 percent said they did not know. For Woodward, 30 percent said he was a journalist; 17 percent said he was not, and 53 percent did not know.
Among journalists, however, there was no confusion. Only three percent said Limbaugh was even somewhat close to what they considered to be a journalist. Ninety-three percent said Woodward was somewhat close or very close to a journalist.
Source:Annenberg Public Policy Center
Another goad is the Annenberg poll finding that about as many Americans consider Rush Limbaugh a journalist as say the same of Bob Woodward a very different view from that expressed by journalists, of whom only three percent said Limbaugh was even somewhat close to what they considered a journalist (see p. 13). And then there is some hope that, as Western Michigan University professor Sandra Borden has written, professionalism could protect the integrity of journalism against the market. Still more dramatically, UNC’s Meyer told the Council of Journalism Organizations that news organizations should think of ways to start ground-up movements to support moral, ethical and competence standards for journalists to keep journalism alive until the new institutions come along.
Maybe greater professionalization could come through enforcement of agreed-upon standards. Peter Goldmark, then publisher of the International Herald Tribune, in summer of 2000 proposed that executives of corporations including media outlets should fund an independent council to track, promote, examine and define the independent news function in America and in the world at large. Give it teeth, give it a good budget. He compared it to the National Academy of Science a presti¬gious, national, institutionalized advocate for the independence and vitality of the most distinctive non-governmental tradition in our democracy. An echo here from Hutchins is a recommen¬dation that a new and independent agency be created to appraise and report annually upon the performance of the press. One problem, of course, is how journalists would agree on the standards. Editor & Publisher had a cover story in early 2003 called. There’s just one problem: no one agrees on what quality means.
If its hard to agree on standards, the notion of determining who is a journalist is even more controversial. The debate over a national shield law, to protect journalists who have pledged anonymity to their sources, has shown the degree of fervor about identifying journalists. Should just any blogger be protected by this law, ask some? But who will distinguish who qualifies as a journalist? comes the response. According to Scott Bosley, executive director, ASNE’s position is that bloggers are no different from the pamphleteers who were some of this countrys earliest journalists. It is to be hoped that this increasing challenge of identifying high-quality journalism as opposed to identifying journalists will lead some media organizations to distinguish themselves from others through their ethical behavior and professionalism, their accountability and transparency. In a different bid to increase journalistic professionalism, Vartan Gregorian in 2005 led the Carnegie Corporation to join the Knight Foundation in a program aimed at strengthening journalism education. Our American universities, which offer the most enriching, challenging and academically excellent higher education in the world, can provide journalism schools with an unparalleled opportunity to engage with ideas about subjects such as history, philosophy, economics and culture that will help their students develop a passion for learning and knowledge along with the exemplary skills they will need to be at the forefront of the journalism profession in the 1st century, said Gregorian at the programs unveiling.
Journalists claim rights but never want to have corresponding responsibilities — Susan Tifft
Is the notion of professionalism really so foreign to journalism? Howard Gardner (author of Good Work) and Lee Shulman (president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching) in a recent issue of the journal Daedalus list six commonplaces they say are characteristic of all professions. One can surely find much that is familiar in the craft today:
1. A commitment to serve in the interests of clients in particular and the welfare of society in general .
2. A body of theory or special knowledge with its own principles of growth and reorganization
3. A specialized set of professional skills, practices and performances unique to the profession .
4. The developed capacity to render judgments with integrity under conditions of both technical and ethical uncertainty
5. An organized approach to learning from experience both individually and collectively and, thus, of growing new knowledge from the contexts of practice .
6. The development of a professional community responsible for the oversight and monitoring of quality in both practice and professional education
Duke’s Tifft cited the national board for teacher certification as a model for creating a credential, and as an incentive to improve performance. Journalists claim rights but never want to have corresponding responsibilities, she said.
Could there be a halfway measure, something between no requirements and entrance exams? This was the question put by Norman Pearlstine, former editor in chief of Time Inc., at a November 2005 Carnegie Corporation gathering. Should we automatically assume that there should be no credential as such that certifies a journalist as having a level of education, as having learned about professional responsibility, as having learned basics? Medical licenses help give people faith in doctors, and although that’s anathema to all of us in terms of our own training, there might be some kind of middle ground, such as licenses for financial planners. Perhaps the idea of national standards or even a certification of some kind is worth considering. Asked to raise their hands if they liked the idea, the roomful of journalists to whom Pearlstine spoke remained still. But in a time of ever greater choices, assuring people that the work they’re looking at comes with some kind of credential may grow ever more important. Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, said the model he likes is the MBA, which is required nowhere but has a highly meaningful credential value everywhere. If journalism graduate degrees achieved that cachet, we could all die happy without having to establish a formal tollbooth system.
On a more modest level, the inception of the Committee of Concerned Journalists in 1997 spelled an effort toward recommitment to the mission of journalism: We see this as a beginning, a catalyst forging new ideas and a renewed spirit of conviction. We do not intend to propose a set of solutions: this is an attempt to clarify our common ground. Nor is our motive to develop a detailed code of conduct: if journalism is a set of aims, how we fulfill them should change with changing times and be left to each news organization to decide. But if journalism is to survive, it falls to individual journalists, especially in each new generation, to articulate what it stands for.
Whether through professionalization or a recommitment to mission, an agreement on core standards or enhanced accountability measures, as philosopher and Carnegie senior scholar Bill Sullivan told our gathering, journalists need to reinvent their social contract with the public.
Speaking out for journalism
Part of that contract should be a commitment on the part of journalists to speak out on behalf of journalism. Plenty of others are willing to speak about journalism. No surprise, then, that it is widely misunderstood. Nor is this a new issue. Max Weber, in his 1918 speech politics as a vocation said this: The journalist belongs to a sort of pariah caste, which is always estimated by society in terms of its ethically lowest representative. Hence, the strangest notions about journalists and their work are abroad. Not everybody realizes that a really good journalistic accomplishment requires at least as much genius as any scholarly accomplishment, especially because of the necessity of producing at once and on order, and because of the necessity of being effective, to be sure, under quite different conditions of production. It is almost never acknowledged that the responsibility of every honorable journalist is, on the average, not a bit lower than that of the scholar, but rather, as the war has shown, higher. This is because, in the very nature of the case, irrespon¬sible journalistic accomplishments and their often terrible effects are remembered.
If we accept the premise that it would be disastrous for a self-governing people to lose confidence in the press, who will speak for the journalists? — Jim Naughton
It is little wonder that the public regards the press with a mixture of disdain and pitiful cowardice, as Weber wrote, for there is no shortage of people speaking out to discredit journalism. Books with titles like Slander and Bias become bestsellers. Media critics abound on the television shout fests. Politicians hasten to blame the messenger. Bloggers vie with one another to catch an old mainstream media practitioner in an error. And every error reverberates through the Web, giving the impression that failures are more numerous than ever. When I was editing a newspaper in the early 90s, I had to fire a reporter for plagiarism. We duly reported it in the paper, and that was that. Now it would be known throughout the land, thanks to the Poynter Institute blog, Romenesko, which gathers all such journalism nuggets online, so that every college newspapers plagiarism incidents are known by all and the sins seem far more numerous as a consequence. The welcome flowering of transparency, it would seem, demands to be accompanied by a commensurate growth in explanation and context.
The only real hope for sustaining journalism over the long haul is going to lie in the public demand for good work but the public must first believe in the necessity of it, and then in the possibility of it. This calls for journalists to do some speaking out on behalf of journalism. For, as Tifft said at Penn, We’ve allowed others to define us. We should be more aggressive about standing up for ourselves. And as Jim Naughton told the group, If we accept the premise that it would be disastrous for a self-governing people to lose confidence in the press, who will speak for the journalists?
Its beginning to happen. When Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau coverage of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was attacked as unfair and inaccurate, then Washington editor Clark Hoyt fought back with a strongly worded commentary about the importance of reporting the facts, Knight Ridder’s Alito Story: Factual and Fair. And various organiza¬tions, from CCJ to the Council of National Journalism Organiza¬tions, are pondering ways to make their voices heard on behalf of journalism. Still, the craft is wary. Consider what happened when Associated Press CEO Tom Curley called for a media advocacy center to lobby in Washington for open government. Curley said in a 2000 speech that the powerful have to be watched, and we are the watchers the government is pushing hard for secrecy. We must push back equally hard for openness. But many a journalist, including his board, felt queasy at the notion that impartial journalists would turn activist.
We all need to do a better job of persuading the public that freedom of information is not a media privilege but a key part of what keeps other freedoms alive for all. — Alex Jones
Should they be so sensitive? I want to put in a good word for lobbying, Alex Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, told our Penn gathering. Without state press associations lobbying, we wouldn’t have sunshine laws. Confronted with growing secrecy, We all need o do a better job of persuading the public that freedom of information is not a media privilege but a key part of what keeps other freedoms alive for all.
In the end, happily enough, Curley’s idea led to a coming together of various freedom-of-information interests into a Sunshine in Government initiative that has been lobbying for strengthening of the FOIA legislation and for a federal shield law.
Similarly, the past two years have brought a national Sunshine Week effort to focus attention on open government and the role the press plays in bringing news of it to the people (www.sunshineweek.org). The efforts should be broader still. At a recent informal get-together, Phil Meyer, Hodding Carter and others were speaking about this need, and Meyer mentioned an old radio program called Big Town, which he says lured him into the craft (www.originaloldradio.com/big_town.html). After the opening flourish (The power of the freedom of the press is a flaming sword. That it may be a servant of all the people, use it justly, hold it high and guard it well), the show brought attention weekly to a big story unveiled by an intrepid reporter. A comparable television show today would be a fine idea. A colleague of mine suggested a partnership between CCJ and PBS to develop a series about outstanding works of journalism Stories that Mattered.
I’m thinking along the format of the ESPN Sports Century shows that are wonderful pieces of storytelling, interviews and photographs. This could combine interviews with the reporters, the photographers, the editors, some of the principals, talk about the obstacles, and the impact of the stories. You could read the story online. Some shows could focus on great journalists of the ast, but most would focus on contemporary issues. This would work for both great pieces of print journalism as well as broadcast. It could be used as a teaching point WHY some pieces are worth remembering. WHY they should matter to us. Surely this is the sort of thing a good foundation could love.
Another idea is for a national advertising campaign on behalf of journalism, put forth by USA Today editor Ken Paulson at a gathering of editors at a conference outside Chicago, and by Jim Naughton at our Penn gathering. The Carnegie-Knight effort, meanwhile, includes the notion of a task force that will conduct research and issue reports and White Papers on various issues critical to journalism and journalism education. There are some good signs that organizations and individuals are taking these issues on. When Knight Ridder was pushed onto the auction block, the Society of Professional Journalists called for an urgent national conversation about how to preserve public-service journalism. Jeffrey Dvorkin, when he was ombudsman at NPR, said: I think that when the criticism is organized, when its unfair, when its patently political, any news organization has an obligation to respond. The question is how to do that in a way that is productive and not defensive. A Boston Globe story describes a New York Times committee in May 2005 examining how to increase readers trust in the paper; one proposal suggests that the newsroom establish a coherent, flexible system for evaluating public attacks on our work and determining whether they require a public response. As the report notes, critics, competitors and partisans can too easily caricature who we are and what we do. The Times’s executive editor Bill Keller has lamented the clamor of partisan critics on the right and left and the shouting heads who have made denunciation of the serious press part of their commercial shtick.
If journalists don’t tell you this stuff, who will? – Eric Newton
Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, said: I think there is a really poisonous atmosphere out there. What those Times people are reacting to are the attacks by partisans and bloggers. The environment is really pretty tough, and you have to be prepared to make your case.
Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation wrote an opinion piece on why journalists matter, talking about those who died in war ones, those who explained how Social Security worked, those who revealed how crooked public servants squandered public money or got polluting businesses to clean their toxic dumps. If journalists don’t tell you this stuff, who will? he asked. Certainly the Newseum, set to open in a prominent location on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington and now supported by a broad group of media companies, will be a powerful means of speaking out on behalf of journalism.
But effective efforts will require broad commitment of long-standing advocates. Tim McGuire, as outgoing president of ASNE in April 2000, called for a galvanizing force on behalf of journalism. He noted that Jim Naughton had told the Poynter advisory board that year that it no longer is appropriate to assume that someone American Society of Newspaper Editors, Radio-Television News Directors Association, Society of Professional Journalists or the Committee of Concerned Journalists will speak for journalism. Bless them if they do. Poynter must. At that same convention, Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, following on his book, The News about the News, suggested to the ASNE board of directors that ASNE should lead the effort. He proposed a coalition of journalism organizations plus foundations and major universities.
That work, essentially, remains to be done.
The role of government
Journalists tend to blanch at any notion of government help in addressing their problems, but in fact government has long played all kinds of roles in the media world, from postal subsidies to state shield laws to the creation of a public-relations apparatus. Some feel that additional opportunities offer promise for journalism today.
While the United Kingdom model of the BBC is an inspiring one, the idea of government-subsidized media in the United States seems problematic. As journalism scholar Everette Dennis said at a 2000 symposium on news in the public interest,”If you asked this question to almost anyone in the news media, ‘Should there be government subsidies for news organizations in the United States to ensure hard news?’ the immediate answer is, ‘No way’. …On the other hand, we do have a long tradition of certain kinds of subsidies for the media. We’re a little bit hypocritical about it.”
Dennis and Louisiana State University communications dean Jack Hamilton then pursued a dialogue about subsidies for voices that aren’t heard. This is a practice in several different European countries, the two noted. “I think that [such subsidies] could have advantages in particularly the ethnic and minority voices, said Dennis. On the same basis that a rural community doesn’t have a hospital, for example there may be some social value in that.”
And what of other steps, such as the encouragement of ownership changes? Medill School of Journalism lecturer Joe Mathewson, in a December 2005 article in Editor & Publisher talks about the rather simple tax legislation that could enable newspaper companies to be organized as not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporations. Congress could encourage gifts of newspapers by allowing the company to deduct the full value of the newspaper as a charitable contribution, creating a special exception to the current ceiling on corporate gift deductibility. Mathewson suggests other measures, including amendments to the tax laws, that could similarly encourage such gifts. Even law enforcement could get into the deal, he says. People have settled securities-trading violations by donating $ 200 million to charity, and that would have been enough to buy a good-sized newspaper and donate it to a not-for-profit, maybe even endow it. Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen has long contended that fear of the inheritance tax is one reason families sell newspapers to corporations. Should tax-favored modes like real estate investment trusts be encouraged for newspaper owners? All in all, as Duke economist Jay Hamilton told our Penn conference, the government could establish property rights that encourage information provision by people who are not focused on profit maximization.
Media ownership rules, of course, are a significant way in which the government is involved, as the debate over the Federal Commerce Commissions proposed rule changes showed. One proposal would have allowed corporations to own more competing media outlets. Though news coverage of the proposal was relatively sparse, the public interest in the idea was enormous. Sen. John McCain told me that he heard more from constituents on this issue than on any other issue during his years in Congress. Certainly there are possibilities to probe as these discussions move forward.
I wish to debunk the conventional wisdom that government cannot be a solution and must only be a problem when it comes to protecting the First Amendment and its guarantees of freedom of expression — Tim Cook
Another proposal, by Larry Grossman, former president of NBC News, and former Federal Commerce Commission (FCC) chairman Newton Minow, would have the government take spectrum option funds (money that will come from fees for commercial use of the publicly owned spectrum by cell phone operators and others) and create an agency to fund individuals and groups who want to use new media to transform education and learning. Then there is the notion, mentioned earlier, of changing the tax code to encourage long-term investment holdings and therefore to help keep an emphasis on long-range management goals, as GWU law professor Lawrence Mitchell suggested to the Penn gathering.
There is also some support for restoring the Fairness Doctrine, which was overturned by the FCC in 1987. And Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation has wondered if the Community Reinvestment Act anti-trust exemptions might be pegged to whether news companies are reinvesting in their communities. Federal regulatory officials would audit the degree to which news resources are devoted to the community’s benefit, and halt acquisitions by those who have bad records.
Tim Cook, the late LSU professor who wrote widely on these issues, made several proposals to our group: We should encourage public access on the Web to all press releases, reports, etc., usually targeted to journalists. We should consider tax breaks to news organizations that meet certain criteria, such as representing the interest of under-heard minorities. We should consider a government-sponsored search engine, perhaps underwritten by the Library of Congress, to take on the task of deciding which information is most reliable and worthy of attention, much as we already do for public libraries. I wish to debunk the conventional wisdom that government cannot be a solution and must only be a problem when it comes to protecting the First Amendment and its guarantees of freedom of expression, said Cook.
The role of the public
The argument is often made that citizens get the media they deserve. If this is so, then better civics education and news literacy courses seem eminently desirable. As University of Wisconsin education scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings told our group at Penn, high schools do what colleges require. Perhaps we ought to pressure colleges to require more in these subject areas. An Aspen Institute program called for support from organizations like the Newspaper Association of America and the National Association of Broadcasters to create an inform America campaign to promote civic literacy, promote news literacy, use newspapers in school curricula, promote and encourage younger people to engage with newspapers and generally to encourage Americans to exercise not only their rights, but their responsibilities as citizens to be informed of the affairs of state. Already there is considerable foundation support for First Amendment education, goaded in part by a survey underwritten by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation showing how little regard there is for the First Amendment in Americas high schools. Similarly, the annual Sunshine Week, in which media across the country focus on press freedom and open government, has been helpful in bringing these issues to public attention.
Happily, there are many signs of increased public engagement as a result of concerns about the quality of the media. We saw this in the FCC rules-change debate, and again when Knight Ridder papers were put up for sale. We saw it in protests and petition drives after the Tribune Company made staff cuts at Newsday and other papers.
Longtime CBS News correspondent Tom Fenton, in his critique of today’s media, Bad News, calls for something more one powerful citizens organization to monitor the news media. Consumers successfully apply such pressure on the media all the time for other reasons: the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, any number of minority rights organizations, and a lot of conservative groups all monitor media output, often complaining about media bias.
Whether they are organized as one or not, members of the concerned public could surely use tools to do the monitoring. Ev Dennis has argued for a kind of field guide for consumers on how to assess journalism. The CCJ has developed a Citizens Bill of Journalism Rights, helping people understand what to expect from the press. Might we develop checklists about how to measure journalism in the public interest? How about a running list of unreported topics, comparative examples of coverage from other countries, a forum for scrutinizing reporting? Grade the News in the Bay Area has been an interes¬ting attempt at this. The Minnesota News Council involves citizens in equal representation with journalists in its effort to address complaints brought against media. The Knight Foundation is funding two new councils, in New England and Southern California. And the Carnegie-Knight initiatives research goals include a look at how media are used in education a particularly interesting question as much of the old newspaper-in-education effort has given way to profit pressures.
One online news consultant has even argued that journalism schools could best serve society by dismantling most of their current structure, and stop seeing their mission as teaching students who want to be journalists. J-schools desperately should be trying to reach the population at large.
Citizen journalism guru Dan Gillmor’s main message to the public in We the Media is, if you don’t like the journalism you’re seeing, then commit journalism of your own. As we shall see in the next section, citizens are transforming the news by doing exactly that.
New forms of media
While journalists on the traditional side of the fence stew, innovation is running rampant on the Web and through other new delivery methods. Does this represent a welcome and enlivening democratization of media? An anarchic undermining of media? Or something of both?
To call the pace of change unsettling to the journalism world is gross understatement. The soul of the Google machine is a passion for disruptive innovation, David Vise wrote in the Washington Post in 2005. Googles co-founder says the company likes to operate with a healthy disregard for the impossible. Meanwhile, newspaper and broadcast news companies tend to operate with an unhealthy devotion to the tried and true. New media activist Jeff Jarvis exhorted our Penn conferees to understand just how short-sighted the lament for the good old days really is. Phil Meyer joined in to stress that the readership on Internet sites comes disproportionately from the younger age groups that are the source of the long-term loss of traditional newspaper readership. Those of us who wish to preserve the social responsibility function of the press by improving its quality need to stop nagging long enough to start looking at the integrated product and not just the portion that is manufactured from paper and ink.
Many individual journalists, frustrated with the slow pace of organizational change, have simply made the jump themselves. As Tim Porter has written: If there is an ism journalists should embrace to ensure they have future vehicles to support John Knights essential mission, then it is entrepreneurism. Don’t wait for new forms of media to emerge — build them yourselves. That’s what David Talbot did when he left a newspaper to create Salon. That’s what Larry Kramer did when he left a newspaper to start MarketWatch. That’s what former newspaperman Mark Potts is doing building Backfence. And, that’s why Dan Gillmor left the San Jose Mercury News to found a new business for grassroots journalism.
Similarly, Stephen Gray, former managing publisher of the Christian Science Monitor, now runs Newspaper Next at API. Gray was quoted in Newsday Jan. 9, 2006, saying: Today we’ve got an infinite pipe for information, but were still putting out a medium that goes out once a day and meets the needs of 100 years ago. Critics note that old-line media too often think that moving onto the Web is just a matter of shoveling their hard-copy content into a new place. The medium that offers the greatest opportunities the Web needs to be the place to start, they say, with the work then being reconfigured for the far more restrictive ink-on-paper function.
Anybody who tells you that newspapers will be going away within the next five or 10 years is just crazy. Newspapers have supposedly been going away since the advent of radio, but they’re still among the most profitable businesses in the U.S. — Peter Zollman
At the very least, the change offers hope and promise for a vigorous future media world, and one thing journalists need NOT be is the problem. Journalists have for so long been protecting their institutions against the kinds of profit-oriented pressures that seemed to undermine their work that some have found it very hard to welcome the fresh air that new media offer. As media blogger Tim Porter writes in his blog First Draft: The risk-averse cultures of newsrooms must be addressed in order to accomplish change. Newsrooms are defensive (Who me?), oppositional (Won’t work!), avoidant (Not my job) and perfectionistic (trees, not forest).
Among the factors that have slowed editors and publishers move toward the new media world is cost. Even as newsroom leaders begin to understand the necessity to guide their staffs more quickly toward new models of journalism (or to allow innovators within their staffs to push toward those new models) the count ing houses are often stuck in the old model. Retraining a newsroom to deliver the news online and on cell phones and iPods takes some thought and some expenditures even as newsrooms are being forced to cut back to continue to support the old business model in ever more challenging times. And newsrooms need support in these changes. Journalism training needs to turn out people who are as proficient in delivery of Web news as in journalism practice. There are some hopeful signs of action here. The Knight Foundation launched a new media-training center at the University of Southern California to enrich the training of new media journalists, and one at Berkeley to help train traditional journalists in multimedia reporting (http://www.knightfdn.org). Journalism schools, too, should be changing, not only to teach convergence in reporting, but also to link the science of computer knowledge with the art of journalism.
As both advertisers and news consumers move rapidly away from traditional media toward new ones, how will the transition work for newspapers economically? Advertising online is growing by leaps and bounds, yet amounts to only a small fraction of old media profits. And the journalism that very expensive product that sustains the whole system, both old and new must somehow be paid for. Peter Zollman, a Florida-based interactive media consultant and industry analyst, notes that this is a transition unusually difficult to manage: Anybody who tells you that newspapers will be going away within the next five or 10 years is just crazy.
Newspapers have supposedly been going away since the advent of radio, but they’re still among the most profitable businesses in the U.S. And that’s the problem: Reaping all that money from the old model, it is tempting to ride it down rather than invest in the new and very promising, but as yet far less profitable, multi-platform model.
Still, change is coming quickly now to the old media. Take papers like the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, on whose Web site every Little League player can be a star, complete with audioclips of each talking about the game. In the New York Times, media columnist David Carr wrote an Academy Award blog. Unique visitors to newspaper Web sites rose 1 percent from January to December last year, according to the Washington Post. That same Post piece notes that data from public newspaper companies indicate that online advertising revenue is growing at a pace that matches the double-digit increase in online readers over the past several years. The transition remains a complex picture, as analyst John Morton told the Post, which reported that online advertising revenue accounts for about 5 percent of a newspapers total revenue and will probably grow to 6.5 percent next year.
Were moving from a time when the paradigm of journalism was, you shine the light, and people will see, to a time when were living in a world that’s just full of bright light all the time. Now we have to get peoples attention by giving them some kind of sunglasses so they can see — Eric Newton
Said Morton: But if you continue to grow 30 percent or more a year, within five years, for example, online classified revenue will equal what you’ll get from your print model. For all the optimism of that picture, the question remains: What happens during the transition? As the revenue does begin to flow to mainstream media from their new platforms, where will that money go? Simply to keep the model afloat? Or will the spirit of innovation at last turn the old harvest-reaping ideology toward investment in the future?
Meanwhile the signs of change are everywhere in decisions by public officials, by executives, by individuals. Philadelphia is vying to be the city of the wireless Web. On iPods, TiVos, Web sites and cell phones, more and more varieties of content appear every day. ABC put its popular program Desperate Housewives online free in streaming video in April 2006. Typical of smaller innovations, a Canadian named David Beers has created an online newspaper The Tyee (thetyee.ca, named for a fish that swims against the current). Longtime radio newsman Bill Siemering praises its excellent editorial judgment on what stories to cover coupled with excellent research and solid reporting so that it is picked up by CBC and other mainstream media. He operates it all for about $ 200,000. Beers says he created The Tyee to provide alternative news and views in a (British Columbia) market that may have the most concentrated corporate ownership in the western world. The Tyee has stepped in with old fashioned muckraking, alternative opinions, media critiques and a citizen toolkit offering information on how to be a more effective citizen.
As media organizations are learning, citizens want to be part of their media. The media no longer exercise the control they once did but, through embracing interactivity and engaging the readers, they are coming up with new kinds of power. To some, this idea seems subversive, anarchic. Certainly it speaks of a different culture. The Knight Foundations Eric Newton at the November 2005 Carnegie Corporation gathering said, Were moving from a time when the paradigm of journalism was, you shine the light, and people will see, to a time when were living in a world that’s just full of bright light all the time. Now we have to get peoples attention by giving them some kind of sunglasses so they can see.
We also have to give them the megaphone, since they are quickly seizing it. Dan Gillmor, a leader in this arena, told a gathering in 2003, Journalism has been a lecture. We say here’s the news and you buy it or you don’t. I’m pretty sure were turning into something between a conversation and a seminar. Michael Skoler, director of American Public Media Center for Innovation in Journalism, asks: Can mainstream media learn fast enough to survive public insight journalism? This is Skoler’s term for a system being used by APM to involve the expertise of the public to enrich the journalism.
The proliferation of voices online, in the form of blogs with somewhere more than 7 million in the world is often hailed as a great democratization of media. But a look at the most popular and oft-cited blogs reveals a not-so-equitable profile, as a 2006 New York magazine article notes. Indeed, its easy to recog¬nize, among top bloggers, a white, male, middle-class demographic, one shared by old media. Meanwhile, the American public is fast becoming more and more diverse, and the media serving that diversity comprise one of the fastest-growing sectors of the journalism world. The Independent Press Association cites 7 ethnic papers and magazines in over 40 languages in the New York City area alone, with a comparable number of ethnic and community publications in Chicago. Most of these media are independently owned, Abby Scher, formerly the head of the association, noted at the Penn conference. Members of New California Media, (now New America Media), a nonprofit representing more than 400 ethnic media outlets, reach 84 percent of California’s Latinos, blacks and Asians, the states three largest minority groups. Sandy Close, the groups director, told us at Penn that 51 million Americans access ethnic media, and she exhorted us to expand and infuse your sense of media with this knowledge. She suggested to our Penn conference that there be a kind of Associated Press of ethnic media in order to strengthen the voices of these outlets and enhance the chances of their entering the main stream of civic conversation.
Amid the rapid changes, two primary challenges loom large. The first is how to guarantee the continued provision of the original work often work that can be done only by full-timers who know the craft that forms the basis upon which citizens and bloggers build and expand. In The rise of search . . . and the decline in journalism, a blog posting in December 2005, Silicon Valley-watcher Tom Foremski wrote:” The trouble is that the new media companies are growing wealthy on the money that used to pay for large teams of media professionals online and in newspapers, radio and TV. As the professional media class shrinks, it undermines the overall quality of our media. Yes, the rise of the blogosphere has filled some of the gap but lets remember that the blogosphere has a day job. Bloggers don’t have to create content every day. Journalists do it every day. Citizen journalism does have an important place in the mediasphere but it cannot replace our need for professional journalists. And the funding for such media professionals is disappearing at a faster rate as the new media companies ramp up ever more efficient advertising /marketing services”.
Bloggers don’t have to create content every day. Journalists do it every day… Citizen journalism does have an important place in the mediasphere but it cannot replace our need for professional journalists — Tom Foremski
A second, and related, concern is how old-journalism ethics will translate onto these new platforms and whether the people writing for new media even want them to. A Media Bloggers Association headed by Robert Cox is among the groups beginning to address this issue. And there are signs everywhere that bloggers are more and more seeing themselves as journalists: They’re getting more and more obsessed with accuracy. They’re getting more and more skillful at backing up their opinions with reporting and research. Simply put, they’re investing more and more in that ultimate of journalistic goals: Getting it right, according to blogger Greg Sargent, in CBSs Public Eye.
Some have worried that the Internets increased fragmentation means that consumers will choose to see only what they want, thereby undermining the hope that media can help achieve consensus. Andrew Heyward, former CBS news president, is more optimistic. My view is that this complicated world is an even bigger market for editors and journalists who can make sense of it all and help you figure out at least some of what’s going on. That’s going to be an important role for journalists. Local newspapers and TV are uniquely qualified for this role. They have the resources.
We’re motivated by a glimmer of optimism rather than a pall of fear, and we spy opportunities where others might see problems. In the end, we’ve decided to try to shape our future rather than allowing the future to shape us, and that has a calming influence, particularly in the middle of the night. – Michael Riley
The thrill of today’s ever richer and more diverse media landscape is that it can lift us out of the old-medias woe-is-me landscape into a world where anything is possible. What’s needed is wide-open thinking about how consumers use information, and where they are getting it, and how old media companies can fulfill those needs while bringing the best of their traditions onto new platforms.
Where change is happening, optimism reigns. Michael Riley, editor of the Roanoke (VA) Times, talks of their success: Our corporate culture willingly embraces change, and we’ve devoted real resources to allow our newsroom to experiment. True, its not clear whether its enough to save the daily newspaper. My hunch however is that we can, and here’s why: We’re motivated by a glimmer of optimism rather than a pall of fear, and we spy opportunities where others might see problems. In the end, we’ve decided to try to shape our future rather than allowing the future to shape us, and that has a calming influence, particularly in the middle of the night.
As this report draws to a conclusion, the media world seems buffeted as never before. Newspapers change hands weekly, new digital media outlets crop up daily. Boardroom arguments rage at one embattled media company, Wall Street demands organizational change at another. Stock tables migrate from the newspaper to the Web, advertisements move onto the front pages. One evening news anchor gives way to another even as pundits question whether the evening news is over. The Attorney General floats the possibility of trying journalists under the Espionage Act; public officials call newspaper reports treasonous.
Yet, as war consumed the Middle East, the demands on American leadership seemed ever more complex and the need for a free and independent press as great as it has ever been. How, then, can we ensure the continued flow of this democratic lifeblood? Many point to the great efflorescence on the Web and tell us not to worry.
But to do this is to confuse outlets with inputs. We are not lacking for ways to deliver information. What we are lacking, increasingly, is the particular kind of information that keeps free people free. An analogy with our current national travails over obesity is apt: Just as so many of us overeat but are undernourished, so do we sate ourselves with media but want for journalism. The first step toward solving this challenge is understanding its magnitude. Then will come necessary actions from many different constituencies. We intend to pursue these solutions vigorously, in the fine company of others working on behalf of journalism.
I. Corporate realities:
Enable corporate managers to focus on longer-term goals
– elect board members for longer terms
– change incentives for investors
– impose punitive taxes on short-term stock trading
– provide tax forgiveness on long-term holding
Bring a greater sense of responsibility to corporate governance
of media companies
– appoint directors with journalism experience
– assign responsibility to board members to monitor editorial performance
– tie incentive compensation for corporate officers to journalistic quality
– discontinue stock options for newsroom staff and outside directors
Enable shareholders to exert pressure for corporate responsibility
– bring concept of socially responsible investing to media companies
Conduct research showing links between good journalism and good business
– make corporate officers aware of findings
Consider units within media companies dedicated to public-interest journalism
– sheltered from normal profit pressures
– portion of online revenues devoted to this purpose
Establish partnership for quality journalism
– supported by funds from media companies
– supported by foundations, nonprofit
Take public companies private
– interest local citizens in these still highly profitable media enterprises
– get nonprofit involved
II. Not-for-profit media
Establish Marshall Plan by foundations and philanthropists
– increase support for nonprofit media organizations
– foster new nonprofit media models
III. Journalists responsibilities
– replace with process of verification
– strengthen through collaboration
– create networks to enhance effectiveness
– enhance transparency through use of e-mails, editors columns, etc.
– media outlets conduct annual self-audits and make results public
– institutionalize apprenticeships
– news organizations collaborate to support standards for journalists
– establish independent council to track, promote, define independent news function in U.S.
– emulate national board for teacher certification to provide credential
– work to ensure that journalism graduate degrees achieve cachet of MBA
IV. Speaking out for journalism
– journalists should assume a responsibility for speaking out on behalf of viable and independent media as individuals and through organizations
– focus on freedom of information not as media privilege but as public right
– produce radio/television shows whose segments focus on reporting
– consider advertising/public-relations campaigns on behalf of journalism
– journalism educators join forces to speak out for journalism (gather leaders of journalism organizations, foundations, universities and other institutions to form a coalition in support of public service journalism and freedom of the press)
V. The role of government
– pass tax legislation to enable news companies to be organized as nonprofit, tax-exempt corporations
– devote funds to be gained from government auction of publicly owned telecommunications spectrum to the provision of educational material in digital media
– provide tax breaks for ethnic media and other under-heard voices
– consider government-sponsored search engine
VI. The role of the public
– pressure colleges to require civics education
– push for more courses in news literacy, First Amendment
– support news media in schools
– expand Sunshine Week activities, move from annual to greater frequency
– create and distribute field guides for news consumers
VII. New forms of media
– encourage entrepreneurialism among journalists
– train traditional journalists in new delivery platforms
– train new media practitioners in old media principles
– provide tutorials for citizens in gathering and shaping news
– create wire service of ethnic media to strengthen disparate
American Copy Editors Society was founded in 1997 as a professional journalism organization for, by and about copy editors to provide solutions to copy desk problems, through training, discussion and an awareness of common issues.
American Press Institute was founded by newspaper publishers in 1946, as a center for training and professional development for the news industry and journalism educators. Based in Reston, Virginia, it has among its programs Newspaper Next, a project to research new business models for the newspaper industry.
American Public Media is a national distributor and producer of public radio programming, including A Prairie Home Companion and Market place.
American Society of Newspaper Editors is a membership organization for daily newspaper editors, founded in 19 and based in Reston, Virginia. http://www.asne.org
Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands was established in 2001 by the Annenberg Foundation of Radnor, Pennsylvania, to advance public understanding of and appreciation for democracy and to address serious issues facing the country and the world.
Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsyl¬vania conducts and disseminates research, hosts lectures and conferences, and convenes roundtable discussions that highlight important questions about the intersection of media, communication, and public policy.
Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 as an independent policy and research center whose charge is to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold, and dignify the profession of the teacher and the cause of higher education.
Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, non-partisan, independent journalism organization based in Washington, D.C., established in 1989 to provide original investigative reporting.
Center for Social Media, part of the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., showcases and analyzes strategies to use media as creative tools for public knowledge and action.
Committee of Concerned Journalists is a consortium of reporters, editors, producers, publishers, owners and academics worried about the future of the profession. It seeks to clarify journalisms core principles and promote understanding of them.
Council of National Journalism Organizations, founded in 1991, brings together the leaders of three journalism organizations. It works to foster communication and collaboration among its member organizations. http://www.cnjo.org
Craigslist is a web-based listing of notices and forums concerning jobs, housing and other services, with local material in cities across the United States and around the world.
Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press comprised 13 prominent intellectuals. They delivered in 1947 a 133-page report cataloguing the shortcomings of the American press.
Independent Press Association is dedicated to serving independently owned and run, mission-driven publications — magazines, newspapers, and web sites that promote the public interest in political, social, and cultural diversity and richness. It is located in San Francisco.
Investigative Reporters and Editors and its sister organization, the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting, are nonprofit based at the Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri. They provide nationwide training and support for investigative journalism and computer-assisted reporting.
Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University explores the intersection of press, politics and public policy.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, based in Miami, focuses on supporting journalism and on the six communities in which the Knight brothers company operated newspapers.
National Association of Broadcasters, in Washington, D.C., is a full-service trade association which represents the interests of free, over-the-air radio and television broadcasters before Congress, federal agencies and the courts.
National Conference of Editorial Writers, based in Harrisburg, Pa., is a nonprofit professional organization founded in 1947 to support high standards among opinion writers.
National Press Club is a membership organization founded in Washington, D.C., in 1908 to promote a free press and provide benefits to journalists.
New America Media, formerly New California Media, is a collaboration of ethnic news organizations whose goal is the promotion of the visibility and viability of ethnic media.
Newspaper Association of America, in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit representing the newspaper industry. It was formed by the merger of seven organizations, bringing together publishers, advertising and circulation executives, marketing and research directors.
Pew Charitable Trusts, based in Philadelphia and with an office in Washington, serves the public interest by providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life.
Poynter Institute is a school for journalists and teachers of journalism, based in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was established in 1975 by Nelson Poynter, who bequeathed his controlling interest in the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly to the Institute, providing a nonprofit ownership for the publications.
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is a nonprofit organization established in 2006 to encourage independent reporting and raise the standard of coverage of foreign affairs. It is located in Washington, D.C. http://www.pulitzercenter.org
Radio-Television News Directors Association is a professional organization representing local and network news executives in broadcasting, cable and other electronic media in more than 30 countries. It is based in Washington, D.C.
Society of Professional Journalists, founded in 1909 and located in Indianapolis, promotes the work of a free press through its membership of nearly 10,000 students and journalists.
Commission on the Role of the Press in a Democracy, June 2005
Geneva Overholser (Commission Co-Chair)
Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting, Missouri School of Journalism, Washington Bureau
Ms. Overholser, a former ombudsman and syndicated columnist for the Washington Post and editorial board member of The New York Times, was editor of The Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995, leading the paper to its 1991 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. Ms. Overholser was named best in the business by American Journalism Review and editor of the year by the National Press Foundation. She served on the Pulitzer Prize board and is a former officer of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and a Nieman fellow. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Commission Co-Chair)
Professor of Communication, University of Pennsylvania Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center
Dr. Jamieson is the author or co-author of ten books including Everything You Think You Know About Politics…and Why You’re Wrong, The Press Effect and Eloquence in an Electronic Age, for which she received the Winans-Wichelns Book Award. She has received numerous teaching and service awards including the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Public Education Award of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She is an elected fellow of the International Communication Association and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. During the fall 200 presidential campaign, Dr. Jamieson appeared regularly on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Now with Bill Moyers.
Claude-Jean Bertrand [deceased]
Professor Emeritus, Institut Français de Presse of the University of Paris-ll
A renowned scholar of world media and media ethics, Dr. Bertrand has published articles in more than a dozen languages and has taught and lectured across the world. He is a senior consultant of Innovation Media, editor of the http://www.media-accountability.org website, and has served on the editorial boards of Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Journal of Communication and Media Ethics. He has written and edited numerous publications including such books as Media Ethics & Accountability Systems and An Arsenal for Democracy: Media Accountability Systems.
Executive Producer, The Koppel Group at Discovery Networks
Tom Bettag served as executive producer of ABC News Nightline for more than a decade and was senior executive producer from 2003 to 2005. Prior to joining ABC News, Bettag spent years at CBS News, during which he was executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, a producer for 60 Minutes, and a senior producer for CBS Morning News, CBS Evening News and for CBS News election coverage of Campaign 84. He began his career as a news writer for WNEW-TV in New York City and as a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press and The Saginaw News in Michigan. Mr. Bettag also taught film production and editing at the Columbia School of Journalism. He is the recipient of seven Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons, five Peabody Awards and 29 Emmys.
Leo Bogart [deceased]
Columnist, Presstime Consultant and Director, Innovation International Media
A former president of the American and World Associations for Public Opinion Research, Dr. Bogart was a columnist for Presstime, the magazine of the Newspaper Association of America, and a consultant and director of the Innovation International Media consulting group. For many years he was the executive vice president and general manager of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau. The author of numerous articles, monographs and such books as Preserving the Press and Over the Edge: How the Pursuit of Youth by Marketers and the Media Has Changed American Culture, Dr. Bogart was a senior fellow at Columbia University and a Fulbright research fellow. His honors include distinguished awards from the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the American Marketing Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Leo Bogart and George Gallup were the first people elected to the Market Research Council Hall of Fame.
Founder and Principal, MMB Media LLC
Before establishing consulting and investment firm MMB Media LLC, Mr. Brown served as senior vice president of RealOne Services and editor in chief and senior vice president of MSNBC.com. Brown was recently appointed national editorial director of News for the 1st Century: Incubators of New Ideas (News 21), part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. He has been a media and communi¬ca¬tions consultant, doing strategic development work at companies such as Time Inc. and NBC. Mr. Brown was one of the founders of Courtroom Television Network (Court TV), served as editor in chief of Channels magazine and has worked for the Washington Post, the Washington Star and Media General Newspapers. Mr. Brown serves on the boards of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, the International Women’s Media Foundation, The Media Center, Backfence.com, Smashing Ideas, NewWest Publishing, the Center for Citizen Media and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.
James Carey [deceased]
Professor, Journalism, Columbia University
Dr. Carey’s books include Television and the Press, Communication as Culture and James Carey: A Critical Reader. Dr. Carey served as dean of the College of Communications at the University of Illinois, president of the Association for Education in Journalism, National Endowment for the Humani¬ties fellow and member of the board of directors of the Public Broadcasting System.
Professor, Communications and Media Management, Fordham Business School; Managing Director, Greystone Communications
Dr. Carey’s research focuses on the adoption and use of new media, media ethnography, public broadcasting and telecommu¬nications policy. Dr. Carey has conducted research studies for A&E Television Networks, Cablevision, Consumers Union, CPB, General Electric, The Markle Foundation, NBC, The New York Times, NTIA, PBS, Primedia, Scholastic, WNET and XM Satellite radio, among others. He is widely published in the areas of new media and interactive media, and serves on the board of the Adult Literacy Media Alliance.
Nicole A. Childers
Nicole A. Childers is an Emmy award-winning journalist in Los Angeles. She began her journalism career as an intern for Diane Sawyers staff at Primetime Live at ABC News. Childers joined ABC News in 1999 and went on to serve as an associate producer for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings where she covered major stories ranging from the attacks of Sept 11th, to the war in Iraq and the death of Pope John Paul II. Childers has received numerous awards for her contributions, including two Emmys, a Peabody, a DuPont, and two Edward R. Murrow awards. In the summer of 2004 , she served as a producer for the launch of ABC News digital channel, ABC News Now. She was also a member of ABC News Diversity Committee and served as a board member for http://www.popandpolitics.com. In September of 2005, Childers was named the executive producer of News and Notes for National Public Radio. She joined NPR as the programs senior supervising producer in July of 2005.
Executive Director, New America Media
After graduating from the University of California-Berkeley, Sandy Close lived in Hong Kong where she worked as the China editor for the Far Eastern Economic Review. When she returned to the U.S., she founded The Flatlands newspaper of Oakland, California. In 197 , she became executive director of the Bay Area Institute/Pacific News Service. Ms. Close is founder of New California Media, an association of over 700 ethnic media organizations, producing an awards program, an inter-ethnic media exchange, and multicultural, multilingual social marketing campaigns, that is now known as New America Media. In 1995, she received a MacArthur Foundation genius award for her work in communications. In 1997, Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark OBrien, a film she co-produced, won the Academy Award for best documentary.
Timothy E. Cook [deceased]
Professor of Mass Communication and Political Science in the Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair of Political Communication, Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University
Dr. Cook was first to serve as the Laurence Lombard Chair at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. He joined LSU after 20 years on the faculty at Williams College, where he was Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr. Professor of Political Science, and recurring stints as a visiting professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Among the books he authored, co-authored or edited are Freeing the Presses: The First Amendment in Action ( 2005), Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution (1998) and Crosstalk: Candidates, Media, and Citizens in a Presidential Campaign (1996), which won the Doris Graber prize for outstanding book in political communication from the American Political Science Association.
Everette E. Dennis
Distinguished Felix E. Larkin Professor of Media and Entertainment Industries and Director, Center for Communication, Fordham Graduate School of Business
Dr. Dennis served as founding director of the Media Studies Center at Columbia University and founding president of the American Academy in Berlin. A former dean of the School of Journalism & Communication at the University of Oregon, he also taught at the University of Minnesota. He is author, co-author and editor of some 45 books and is a former senior vice president of the Gannett/Freedom Forum foundations. His numerous honors include the Eleanor Blum Award for Service to Research in Communication and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Study of Global Media of the Center for Global Media. He is a past president of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communications and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Director/Editor, Media Giraffe Project, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Principal, Densmore Associates
A career journalist, Bill Densmore is director of the New England News Council. He has been an editor/writer for The Associated Press and for trade publications in business, law, and insurance, has freelanced for dailies including the Boston Globe and has written for Computerworld magazine. In 1993, after nine years owning and publishing weeklies in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Mr. Densmore formed what became Clickshare Service Corporation. He has also served as advertising director for a small, group-owned daily and as an interim director of the not-for-profit Hancock Shaker Village. He is director/editor of The Media Giraffe Project (MGP), an effort to find and spotlight individuals making sustainable, innovative use of media to foster participatory democracy and community. At the start of his career, Mr. Densmore worked briefly in public radio in Worcester and Amherst, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown Dunlap
President, The Poynter Institute
Dr. Dunlap is a board member for the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, and also serves on the board of the Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc. She was a writer at the St. Petersburg Times, and serves as a member of the board of directors of the St. Petersburg Times Publishing Co. Dr. Dunlap has taught journalism at Tennessee State University, the University of South Florida in Tampa, and continues teaching at Poynter. Dr. Dunlap has co-authored two books, The Effective Editor and The Editorial Eye, and was editor of the Institutes Best Newspaper Writing series. She is the winner of the 2005 Gerald M. Sass Distinguished Award from the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications, as well as an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg in 2006. Dr. Dunlap began her career as a reporter for the Nashville (Tenn.) Banner and later worked as a staff writer at the Macon (Ga.) News.
Robert M. Entman
J.B. and M.C. Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
Dr. Entmans most recent books include Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy (University of Chicago, 2004 ) and the award-winning The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America (University of Chicago, 2000, with A. Rojecki). He received the Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Achievement Award in Political Communication at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. He is currently writing a book called Media Bias Scandals.
Curator, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University
Mr. Giles began his career as a newspaper reporter and editor, eventually becoming executive editor of the Akron Beacon Journal and editor and publisher of The Detroit News. Both newspapers received Pulitzer Prizes under his leadership. Mr. Giles later served as senior vice president of the Freedom Forum and editor in chief of its Media Studies Journal. Mr. Giles has authored or co-authored such books as What’s Fair? The Problem of Equity in Journalism and Newsroom Management: A Guide to Theory and Practice.
Professor, Political Science, and Adjunct Professor, Communi¬cation, University of Illinois, Chicago
Dr. Graber is author or co-author of 14 books including the award-winning Processing Politics: Learning from Television in the Internet Age. She is founding editor emeritus of Political Communication and book review editor of Political Psychology. She has served as president of the International Society for Political Psychology, the Midwest Political Science Association, the Midwest Public Opinion Association and the political communication sections of the American Political Science Association and the International Communication Association. Honors include the Frank J. Goodnow Award and the Edelman Career Award of the American Political Science Association, career awards from the Midwest Political Science Association and the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, fellowship in the International Communication Association and service as the Lombard professor of press/politics in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Economics and Political Science, and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Public Policy Department, Duke University
In addition to his current positions at Duke University, Dr. Hamilton has held a number of titles including assistant director of the Terry Sanford Institute on Public Policy and director of the Duke Program on Violence and the Media. He has authored or co-authored six books, including All the News That’s Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information into News and Regulation Through Revelation: The Origin and Impacts of the Toxics Release Inventory Program. Dr. Hamilton has received such honors as the David N. Kershaw Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and the Kennedy School of Governments Goldsmith Book Prize from the Shorenstein Center.
Wallis Annenberg Chair in Journalism and Democracy and Founding Director, The Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California; Senior Fellow, Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California
Mr. Harris is a member of the boards of the Pulitzer Prizes and the Salzburg Seminar. He is the former chairman and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. During his tenure, the Mercury News was ranked one of the ten best newspapers in the country by Columbia Journalism Review and was recognized as a pioneer in multicultural publishing.
Jeff Jarvis blogs about media and news at Buzzmachine.com. He is associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. He is consulting editor of Daylife, a news startup. He is also consulting for The New York Times Company at About.com, Advance and other media companies. He writes a new media column for The Guardian. Until 2005, he was president and creative director of Advance.net, the online arm of Advance Publications. Prior to that, Jarvis was creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly; Sunday editor and associate publisher of the New York Daily News; TV critic for TV Guide and People and a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.
Director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and Laurence M. Lombard Lecturer in the Press and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Alex Jones covered the press for The New York Times from 1983 to 199 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. In 1991, he coauthored (with Susan E. Tifft) The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty, which Business Week magazine selected as one of the best business books of the year. In 1992, he left the Times to work on The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times (also co-authored with Tifft), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in biography. He has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, a host of National Public Radios On the Media and host and executive editor of PBS’s Media Matters. He is on the board of the International Center for Journalists, Committee of Concerned Journalists, Foundation for the Society of Professional Journalists, Black Mountain Institute, Nieman Foundation, the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet and other organizations.
Jane E. Kirtley
Professor, Media Ethics and Law, University of Minnesota; Director, Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, University of Minnesota
Ms. Kirtley has been a reporter, a practicing attorney and served as executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press from 1985 to 1999. She serves on the board of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and for 11 years wrote the First Amendment Watch column for American Journalism Review. Her honors include induction into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement, the John Peter Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press and the Matrix Foundations First Amendment Award. She is a member of the Freedom of Information Hall of Fame.
Professor, Department of Communication and School of Journalism, Michigan State University
Dr. Lacy’s research interests include newspaper and media economics, content analysis methodology, media sociology and newspaper history. He is a former photographer, newspaper reporter and editor and past president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Dr. Lacy is co-author of such books as The Economics and Regulation of United States Newspapers and Analyzing Media Messages.
Gloria J. Ladson-Billings
Kellner Family Professor in Urban Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Project Director, Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison; President, American Educational Research Association (2005-2006)
Before serving as president of the American Educational Research Association, Dr. Ladson-Billings served the organiza¬tion in numerous ways including as editor of the Section on Teaching, Learning, & Human Development of the quarterly American Educational Research Journal. She has published widely, including such books as Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms. At the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, she helped to develop Teach for Diversity, a graduate program for teachers who want to teach in diverse settings. Recently, Dr. Ladson-Billings was a visiting scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Education.
Assistant Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University; Director, Graduate Editorial Specialized Reporting Program, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
A journalist and communications researcher, Dr. LaMay has been associate dean at the Medill School and is a faculty associate at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research. He is the former editor of the Freedom Forums Media Studies Journal and a former newspaper reporter. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. LaMay is the author of Exporting Press Freedom: Editorial and Economic Dilemmas in International Media Assistance, the editor of Journalism and the Debate Over Privacy and co-author of Democracy on the Air and Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, Television and the First Amendment, which won the American Bar Associations Silver Gavel Award for best legal book of the year.
Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Professor, American University
Mr. Lewis founded the Center for Public Integrity and for 15 years served as its executive director. While there, he authored or coauthored such books and studies as The Buying of the President 2004, The Corruption Notebooks and The Cheating of America. In 1998, he was awarded a MacArthur fellowship. Previously, Mr. Lewis did investigative reporting at ABC News and at CBS News as a producer for senior correspondent Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes. He has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation and many other publications. He serves on the board of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Knight Professor of Journalism, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Mr. Meyer is the author of The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age ( 2000 ). He is a member of the board of contributors of USA Today and has published in a wide range of periodicals from Esquire to Public Opinion Quarterly. Several organizations have honored him with career achievement awards, including the Newspaper Association of America Research Federation and the American Association for Public Opinion Research. His first book, Precision Journalism, published in 1973, is now in its 4th edition.
Professor and Dean, Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri-Columbia
Before joining University of Missouri-Columbia, Dr. Mills served as director of the Pennsylvania State University’s School of Journalism and then as coordinator of graduate study in communications at California State University, Fullerton. More recently, he has worked on a Ford Foundation study on race and the news and co-edited Journalism Across Cultures. Mills began his career as a professional journalist; he is former Moscow bureau chief for the Baltimore Sun and was a Sun correspondent in Washington, D.C., where he covered the Watergate scandal, the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.
David T. Z. Mindich
Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication, St. Michaels College
Dr. Mindich is a former assignment editor for CNN. He is author of Just the Facts: How Objectivity Came to Define American Journalism and Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Dont Follow the News. His writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and elsewhere. Dr. Mindich is founder of Jhistory, an Internet group for journalism historians. In 2000 , he received the Krieghbaum Under-40 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, Teaching and Public Service from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Lawrence E. Mitchell
Theodore Rinehart Professor of Business Law, The George Washington University Law School
Mr. Mitchell practiced corporate law in New York City and taught law at Albany Law School before joining George Washington University Law School. His articles on corporate law have been published in a number of leading law reviews. He is the author of Corporate Irresponsibility: Americas Newest Export and Stacked Deck: A Story of Selfishness in America. He is co-author of casebooks including Corporate Finance and Governance and Corporations: A Contemporary Approach. He is currently finishing a book on the history of American corporate capitalism in the early 0th century. Professor Mitchell is director of the Sloan Program for the Study of Business in Society and the Ford Project on Global Corporate Governance and Responsibility.
James M. Naughton
Retired President, The Poynter Institute
Mr. Naughton served as president of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies from 1996 to 2003. Before joining The Poynter Institute, he was with the Philadelphia Inquirer for nearly 20 years, during which his titles included executive, managing, deputy managing, associate managing and national/foreign editor. He also has served as a New York Times correspondent and as a reporter and politics writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Professor, Government and the Press, the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard University
Dr. Patterson’s articles have appeared in numerous journals including Political Communication and Journal of Communica¬tion. His books include Out of Order, which received the Ameri¬can Political Science Associations Graber Award for best book in political communication, and The Unseeing Eye, which was named one of the 50 most influential books on public opinion in the past half century by the American Association for Public Opinion Research. He co-directed the Shorenstein Centers study on the 2000 presidential campaign and shared its results in his 200 book The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty.
O. Ricardo Pimentel
Vice President/Editorial Page Editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Mr. Pimentel has worked as a journalist and newspaper editor, beginning his journalism career in the U.S. Navy in 1973. He has worked for various newspapers, including The San Diego Union, The Fresno Bee and The Sacramento Bee. He has served as an op-ed columnist and member of the editorial board at The Arizona Republic, as executive editor at The San Bernardino County Sun in California and managing editor at the Tucson Citizen and The Record (Stockton, California). Mr. Pimentel has written two books of fiction — House with Two Doors and Voices from the River.
Associate Professor, Journalism & Mass Communication, New York University
A key figure in the public journalism movement, Mr. Rosen has written such books as What Are Journalists For? and contributed to Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation and The New York Times. Mr. Rosen has been media editor at Tikkun magazine, a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and a member of the Penn National Commission on Society, Culture, and Community. In 2003 he started his weblog, PressThink (www.pressthink.org) where he comments on journalism issues.
Former Director, Independent Press Association-New York
A sociologist and writer, Dr. Scher is co-editor of Many Voices, One City: The IPA Guide to the Ethnic Press, a directory of the ethnic press of New York. As director of IPA-New York, she built a network of immigrant and other ethnic press. The organization launched its series of Independent Press Clubs in 2001, gaining greater access to newsmakers for the sectors journalists. After September 11, she created Voices That Must Be Heard, an e-weekly that translates and disseminates articles from New Yorks ethnic press to the city and beyond. In 2003, Dr. Scher was the recipient of a Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World award. She is a former editor of Dollars and Sense, and her articles also have appeared in publications including The Nation, Ms. and Contemporary Sociology.
President, Developing Radio Partners
As a founder of National Public Radio and its first director of programming, Mr. Siemering wrote NPRs mission statement and helped to create such NPR programs as All Things Considered, Soundprint and Fresh Air. His numerous awards include a 1993 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his contributions to the evolution of public radio. He is former president of the International Center for Journalists and also served as vice president and station manager at WHYY radio in Philadelphia for almost a decade. He has worked for the Open Society Institute to develop local radio stations in areas such as South Africa and Mongolia. Most recently, he has founded Developing Radio Partners, dedicated to supporting independent radio stations in developing countries through professional training.
Professor and Former Dean, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia
Before joining the University of Georgia, Dr. Soloski taught at the University of Iowa, where he was director of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1996 to 2001. He is a former editor of Journalism and Communication Monographs. He is co-author of Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company and coauthor of Libel Law and Press: Myth and Reality, for which he received the distinguished service award for research in journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists. Dr. Soloskis articles have appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, North Carolina Law Review and Journalism Educator, among other journals.
William M. Sullivan
Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on political and social theory, the philosophy of the social sciences, ethics, the study of American society and values, the professions and education. He co-directs the Carnegie Foundations project on the Preparation for the Professions, a multi-year study comparing education across professions. He has been professor of philosophy at La Salle University, where he is now an associate faculty member. He is author of Reconstructing Public Philosophy and, more recently, Work and Integrity: The Crisis and Promise of Professionalism in America, and co-author of Habits of the Heart and The Good Society.
Susan E. Tifft
Eugene C. Patterson Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy Studies, Duke University
Before joining Time Magazine as a writer and editor, Ms. Tifft was a press secretary for the Federal Election Commission and speechwriter for the Carter-Mondale reelection campaign, as well as director of public affairs for the Urban Institute. She co-authored The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty and The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in biography. She has served as an election analyst for NBC News, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and Columbia Journalism Review.
Judy Woodruff has covered politics and other news for more than three decades at CNN, PBS and NBC. Through early 2007, Woodruff is working with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions on Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard. Generation Next is a project to interview American young people and report on their views, and will comprise an hour-long documentary to be aired on PBS in January 2007, a series of reports on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, reports on NPR and in USA Today and partnerships with Yahoo! and Film Your Issue. For 1 years, Woodruff served as anchor and senior correspondent for CNN, anchoring the weekday political program, Inside Politics. At PBS from 1983 to 1993, she was the chief Washington correspondent for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, and from 198 -1990, she anchored PBS award-winning weekly documentary series, Frontline with Judy Woodruff. At NBC News, Woodruff served as White House correspondent from 1977 to 198 . For one year after that she served as NBCs Today Show Chief Washington correspondent.
Professor, Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Zelizer, a former journalist, is the author or editor of seven books, including Journalism After September 11, Taking Journalism Seriously: News and the Academy, and Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime. Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory Through the Cameras Eye received numerous awards, including the Best Book Award from the International Communication Association and the Simon Wiesenthal Centers Bruno Brand Tolerance Book Award. A former Guggenheim Fellow, Media Studies Center Research Fellow and Fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Zelizer is founder and co-editor of Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism and director of the Annenberg Scholars Program in Culture and Communication.