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Cronkite to host FCC hearing on the Future of American Media

September 30, 2011

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University will host a Federal Communications Commission hearing, Oct. 3, on the future of American media.

The public hearing explores the FCC report “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age,” which was released in June.  The report analyzes the current state of the American media and information landscape and provides recommendations for strengthening and innovating news and information gathering.

The hearing will be live-streamed on the FCC website and broadcast live across Arizona on Arizona PBS Eight World 8.3 through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Commissioner Michael Copps, Chief of FCC Media Bureau William Lake and report author Steve Waldman will hear testimony from a panel of media experts.   

Cronkite School faculty played a key role in shaping the report, and the school was featured prominently in it.

Leonard Downie Jr., the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at Cronkite and former executive editor of The Washington Post, who contributed significantly to the report; Retha Hill, director of the school’s New Media Innovation Lab; and Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan will speak at the hearing.

“The report is an insightful and comprehensive look at our news media ecosystem and makes important recommendations for the digital future,” Callahan said. “It’s an honor to host the FCC hearing, and we are optimistic that real action will come from the report and hearing.”

The report comes from the FCC Working Group on the Information Needs of Communities, which was charged with identifying ways to ensure that the information needs of American communities are met in a rapidly changing media landscape.  

The hearing will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the Eight/KAET-Phoenix studios in the Cronkite building at 555 N. Central Ave. on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Among the highlights of the report:

• News consumers are able to choose from a variety of news sources, but many communities face a shortage of local, professional reporting that focuses on accountability.

• Newspapers are innovating rapidly and reaching new audiences, but most are operating with smaller reporting staffs.

• Far from being near extinction, the traditional media players — TV stations and newspapers — are the largest providers of local news online.

• While digital technology has empowered people in many ways, a concurrent decline in local reporting has, in other cases, shifted power away from citizens to government and other powerful institutions, which can now more easily set the news agenda.

• The nonprofit media sector has become far more varied, and important, than ever before. It now includes state public affairs networks, wikis, local news websites, organizations producing investigative reporting and journalism schools as well as low-power FM stations, traditional public radio and TV, educational shows on satellite TV and public access channels.

• Rather than seeing themselves only as competitors, commercial and nonprofit media are now finding it increasingly useful to collaborate.

Media experts providing testimony include:

Jonathan Blake, Senior Counsel, Covington & Burling, LLC, on behalf of Barrington, Belo, Dispatch, Gannett, Hearst, Post-Newsweek and Raycom

Susan Crawford, Professor, Cardozo Law School

Kevin Davis, CEO and Executive Director, Investigative News Network

Greg Dawson, Vice President of News, NBC7 San Diego

Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor of Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

Paul Giguere, President and CEO, National Association of Public Affairs Networks

Retha Hill, Director of the New Media Innovation Lab, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

Jason Klein, President and CEO, Newspaper National Network

Craig Parshall, SVP and General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters

Nicol Turner Lee, Vice President and Director, Media and Technology Institute for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Laura Walker, President and CEO, New York Public Radio (WNYC)

Coriell Wright, Policy Counsel, Free Press

The full report can be accessed at: