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Date: Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 20:01

By Olivia Niland
Student Writer

Journalists gathered at the USC Davidson Conference Center on April 11 for the presentation of the 2014 USC Annenberg Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.

This year’s award was won by a team from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, whose “Deadly Delays” series documented how delays in newborn screenings at hospitals across the country put babies at risk for disability and even death.

At $35,000, the Selden Ring Award is one of the largest awards in journalism. It honors journalists and investigative work that informs the public about major problems or corruption in society.

“Good journalism should increase civic engagement,” said USC Annenberg School of Journalism Interim Director Michael Parks. “If it doesn’t, you have to ask yourself, ‘Why did you do it?’ or more appropriately, ‘What else should you have done?’

“At Annenberg we advocate solutions-based journalism,” he said. “I think that’s what good journalism does, and particularly what good investigative journalism should do.”

In attendance were Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor Martin Kaiser, managing editor George Stanley and reporter Ellen Gabler, who Parks described as “one of the most dogged reporters I’ve ever met.”

“Basically what I did for two or three months was just negotiate with state health officials,” said Grabler. “I’ve never been more persistent or more organized in my life.”

During the course of their investigation, the team analyzed nearly three million newborn screening tests from across the country. Gabler requested newborn screening data from all 50 states, though she eventually received data from 31, and hospital names from 26, due in part to the fact that some states feared the backlash that could result from disclosing hospital names.

“A lot of these people just thought I was going to go away,” said Grabler of the challenges she faced attempting to attain data from all 50 states. “But I just kind of refused to take no for an answer.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel team created an interactive map to illustrate the data they received and identify where there is still room for improvement.

“I think the reason we got such quick results is because we held people accountable,” said Gabler.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Selden Ring Award, which was established in 1989 by late business leader and philanthropist Selden Ring, and receives continued support from the Ring Foundation. Cindy Miscikowski,  CEO of The Ring Group, also spoke at the awards ceremony.

“This year’s award-winning story is really profound,” said Miscikowski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative reporting, which was selected from 61 entries from across the country. “I can’t remember [reading] one that has brought me to some of the emotional levels that this story did.”

The series was inspired by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson’s story about Colton Hidde, a baby whose life was endangered by a metabolic disease that could have been detected had his newborn screening not been delayed. Thankfully, Colton survived, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel team realized the problem could be more widespread than many realized.

“We’re not afraid to go big,” said Gabler. “We knew this could be more than just one story about one kid who almost died.”

For Grabler, the Selden Ring Award exemplifies the fact that there is still a place, and a need, for comprehensive investigative journalism. 

“I love how [the Selden Ring Award] encourages people to do this kind of work,” said Gabler. “You can absolutely do this kind of work especially if you have great bosses and work hard to do it, so I think the Selden Ring is a great award in that it encourages that.”

As a result of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation, Washington State recently passed a law requiring public disclosure of newborn screening data, and other states will also begin posting their data online, said Gabler.

“We had results throughout the country right away,” said Gabler. “In a lot of these cases there were really simple fixes.”

Having already earned seven other major national awards for “Deadly Delays,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editor Martin Kaiser referred to the Selden Ring Award as the series’ “capstone.”

The team hopes this success will draw attention not just to the issue of newborn screening, but also to how important it is for journalists to be able to do the kind of reporting which made the series--and its findings--possible.

“One thing I felt really lucky for about working at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is that we have great editors who aren’t afraid to elevate the story,” said Gabler. “I wish more newsrooms would do that, to realize when you have a big story, and not just say, ‘oh you get two weeks to do this, or you get a month to do this.’ This took a long time. You really need to be patient because it really pays off in the end.”           

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Date: Monday, 21 Apr 2014 21:50

Above image: USC Annenberg graduate Mike Critelli discussing a scene with From the Rough Director Pierre Bagly (From the Rough Productions)

By Senta Scarborough

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism alumnus Mike Critelli wasn’t the likeliest of candidates to pen From the Rough, an inspirational family sports film hitting screens nationwide this week.

The 27-year-old screenwriter prefers to write edgier Coen brothers or David Lynch-style films and wasn’t always a big fan of sports.

Still, Critelli not only wrote the screenplay for his first film, but also served as a producer who was instrumental in the creative direction of the independent feature from casting to post-production.

From the Rough is inspired by Dr. Catana Starks’ true journey from swim coach to first African American female golf coach of a NCAA Division 1 college men’s team. Career highlights include an all-time record at The PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship and coaching Tiger Woods’ former swing coach.

FTRThe film is being released on Friday (April 25) and features two Academy Award nominated actors—Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” as Coach Starks and the late Michael Clarke Duncan, “The Green Mile,” as the coach’s confidant. This is among Duncan’s last films.

A famous British face, Thomas Fenton, best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movies, takes on the role of a charming but rebellious international student golfer.

Starks’ challenge, a woman creating Tennessee State University’s men’s golf team, sets the film’s backdrop.

Faced with a lack of resources and players, Starks is forced outside the confines of the historically black university to recruit underprivileged students with raw potential from around the world.

Starks finds only one African-American player to join the team, a former caddy with talent but no confidence. To win, he must overcome his insecurity of competing against the players whose clubs he once carried.

“My goal was to pull out what is exciting in sports,” Critelli said. “It’s about getting past whatever barriers and internal struggles you have and connecting with each other.”

This spirit comes from the real-life coach who in her youth overcame asthma, at a time before treatments, to play sports.

“I had two inspirations growing up-- my mom and grandmother. The doctors said I couldn’t be an athlete but they wouldn’t let me be limited by circumstance,” Starks, now 69 and retired, said. “They encouraged me and I played all the sports I could.

“This is a movie for families. Something you can talk to your kids about-- never giving up and always trying,” Starks said.

It’s been a family affair all along. In 2004, Critelli’s father, Michael J. Critelli, a former Pitney Bowes CEO and National Urban League chairman, first discovered the story through his younger son’s chess coach who was one of Stark’s international recruits.

For years, Critelli Sr.’s attempts fell short of developing a screenplay that embraced his passion of exposing discrimination and encouraging inclusiveness.

Finally, at the start of 2009, he turned to his then 22-year old son to give it a shot. 

Critelli had just graduated the year before from the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism where he learned an appreciation of sports and gained the skills that helped him create the film.

“I always loved watching sports movies like the Mighty Duck and Cool Runnings when I was kid but I wasn’t a huge sports fan until I got to USC. I was there during the Pete Carroll era and fell in love with the football program,” Critelli said.

Critelli chose Annenberg to study at one of the top schools of its kind.

“I view communication and its study as the cornerstone of almost everything I do,” Critelli said. “Communication as an academic subject is focused on theories and experiments involving the way people interact with large groups, small groups, individuals and themselves.  Whatever I’ve learned is always in the back of my mind. If writing dialogue isn’t coming naturally, I always have theory to fall back on.”

Annenberg Associate Professor Ken Sereno who taught persuasion, human interaction and communications theory classes provided a solid overview of the way people communicate and influence each other, Critelli said.

“Ken Sereno was great in that he taught potentially dense material with warmth and humor. Since they tended to be the foundational classes for the program, he helped prepare me for everything else,” Critelli said.

In one class, Critelli gave a presentation on nonverbal cues as they relate to power that helped him in the making of the film.

“Power cues would inform the way I wrote characters who were powerful or attempting to display power like actor Henry Simmons as the Athletic Director Kendrick Paulsen Jr. in the film,” Critelli said.

After numerous drafts and with a final script in hand, the father and son team pitched the screenplay. No one would take a chance on a golf film starring an African-American female.

In a last-ditch effort in early 2010, they sought help from an Urban League friend, Pierre Bagley, a documentary filmmaker who later became the film’s director. Bagley suggested they work together to make the movie.

“Up to that point our goal was to sell the project. I don’t think we ever thought we could make it ourselves,” Critelli said. “He gave us the confidence to go forward as filmmakers.”

That’s when Critelli decided to visit TSU’s campus and meet Starks.

Initially, the story was more of a  “fish out of water” tale focusing on the student players until Critelli interviewed Starks. He knew then that this was her story.

“She has an knack for inspiring people. She is quite humble and didn’t appreciate how remarkable her story was,” Critelli said. “Meeting her gave the screenplay clarity and helped crystallize what we were trying to do.”

And, what had initially been a hurdle, the unique roles for African-American actors, became a casting selling point.

“We got a lot of interest from big stars and international talent because of great roles that don’t come around very often,” Critelli said. “The cast and crew were incredibly supportive and their dedication is what made this film happen.”

Duncan’s performance completely broadened the role.

“He had such personal gravity that we couldn’t ignore it,” Critelli said of Duncan. “He was a great professional, mentored the younger actors and always wanted to get it right.”

Meeting Duncan and the rest of cast was a “great thrill” to Starks who also attended several screenings to help promote the film.

“I had no idea it would be as big as it turned out to be,” said Starks. “When I saw people coming out, I saw some had tears in their eyes and it felt wonderful.”

Making the film has been an “eye opening” education and especially rewarding creating a movie others wouldn’t take a chance on, Critelli said.

He discovered a love for films that “celebrate everyday people ” and hopes to make more in the future.

“It’s a fun family movie and they don’t come around much anymore,” Critelli said. “I hope the film does reach kids and inspires them the way those sports movies did for me.”

For more information about the film, check out www.fromtherough.com

Related stories:

- Dan Birman releases documentary on aviator Bob Hoover
- USC Annenberg study examines gender parity among Sundance Film Festival filmmakers

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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 18:47

By Alex Reed

When Daniel Ellsberg released the infamous Pentagon Papers, detailing the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam, in 1971, he was the first American to be indicted under the Espionage Act for non-spy related activity. He has since been labeled a whistleblower.

On Tuesday night, Ellsberg and fellow whistleblowers Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake spoke on a panel moderated by USC Annenberg Professor Robert Scheer about the importance of unveiling government wrongdoing.

“This is a conversation about what I consider to be one of the most important issues in the country and the world today,” said USC Annenberg Professor Geoffrey Cowan while introducing the panel to a packed auditorium of students and faculty.

The panel was part of a two-day stop at USC Annenberg on the Government Accountability Project’s American Whistleblower Tour, which aims to educate people on the “phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing.” 

Radack, who is a national security and human rights attorney for GAP, came to be known as a whistleblower after revealing an ethics violation made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the interrogation of American Taliban Member John Walker Lindh.

As an ethics adviser for the Department of Justice at the time, Radack advised the FBI against the immediate interrogation of Lindh without a lawyer present. Radack’s advice was concealed during Lindh’s trial and Radack was later investigated for copying and leaking the emails about the Lindh interrogation to the press.

After a lengthy battle with the Department of Justice, Radack decided to dedicate her life to defending whistleblowers.

She and Drake were also quick to point out that the terms “whistleblower” and “leaker,” often used synonymously when referring to the release classified information, have very different meanings.

“[Radack] recognized the absolutely crucial distinction between leaking, which is not in the public interest, and whistleblowing, which is,” said Drake.

This distinction, made by Radack in a 2010 Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, was what convinced Drake that Radack and GAP should represent him when he was indicted under the Espionage Act in 2010 for allegedly mishandling classified documents surrounding a costly National Security Agency program.

Drake was the second person, after Ellsberg, to be indicted for non-spy related activity under the Espionage Act, and the first under the Obama Administration.  Radack had assumed that Drake’s case was isolated, however, under the Obama Administration, eight people have been charged with espionage for mishandling information that the government deemed classified.

“The government is deliberately going after targeted individuals, like they targeted me, to send a much larger message to anyone else that might dare come forward,” said Drake. “They’re shutting down the free flow of information that informs the public of what’s going on.”

After Ellsberg and Drake’s cases, it has grown more difficult and dangerous for whistleblowers to get information to the public.

“My view is that it speaks volume that the only safe way to blow the whistle right now if you’re in National Security or Intelligence and know that level of information, the only safe way is to blow the whistle from another country,” said Radack, in reference to her client Edward Snowden, who released thousands of classified government documents last year to journalists he met with in Hong Kong.

However, the panelists all agreed that the government’s crackdown on whistleblowing reveals an even greater need for people willing to expose the truth in the public interest.

“We need more oversight, we need the independent presses and we need whistleblowers,” said Ellsberg.

He added that one way this can happen is if we change how whistleblowers are viewed by the public.

In reference to the title of the event, “Patriot or Traitor? Whistleblowing and Journalism in the Age of Government Surveillance,” Ellsberg said that “not many people would like the opportunity to defend themselves against being a traitor.”

Ellsberg, who said that he identifies with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, has never viewed whistleblowing as traitorous.

Radack added that all journalists should use encryption in order to protect their sources, no matter the level of secrecy, but she does hope that, with the help of whistleblowers, we can still “reign in the national security surveillance state.”

“I still believe that we can recover our democracy from the police state that it’s becoming,” said Radack.


 

(Photo by Gus Ruelas)


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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 18:41

Olivia Niland
Student Writer

A dozen of the foremost voices and masterminds of modern television gathered April 3 for the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab's “Geek Speaks: The Women Who Make Television" discussion April 3.

Writers, producers and showrunners from the likes of The Vampire Diaries, Friends and Gossip Girl convened at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for two panels to discuss the creative process, creative products and the current state of women in television. Among the shows run or contributed to by the panelists were many well-known for their female protagonists: Fringe, The United States of Tara, The Big C and My So-Called Life.

The event, the second in USC Annenberg Professor Henry Jenkins’ “Geek Speaks” series, was designed to draw attention to the “creative mass” of women entering the television industry as writers, producers and showrunners.

“The theme this year was to showcase the dramatic change in the medium of television,” said Jenkins. “I believe when historians write about today, this last 12 months -- from the Veronica Mars movie being funded on Kickstarter to Orange is the New Black -- we’ll have to say that this has changed what television is. And I also believe that women have been a critical part of that process.”

The first 90-minute panel featured Melanie Chilek (Hoff Productions), Felicia Henderson (Fringe, Gossip Girl), Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries), Alexa Junge (Friends, The United States of Tara) and USC Annenberg Professor Stacy Smith. It was moderated by Annenberg Innovation Lab’s Creative Director Erin Reilly.

The panelists touched upon the so-called “Second Shift” problem, particularly prevalent in the entertainment industry, in which women who work full time jobs and are also mothers often have to make tough decisions.

“There is an element of choice, and it’s unfortunate,” said Plec, who added that her own decision not to have a family allows her to work as much as she does. However, she said she tries to be as accommodating as possible of her employee’s family lives. “You have to figure out ways to assign tasks and set boundaries in your life."

“It’s tough because to delegate means that you have to not be a control freak, and often being a control freak is what makes you so good at that particular job. You have to undergo a massive psychological shift.”

The panelists were also presented with the question of whether gender should be left out of the equation entirely in studios, writers' rooms and other creative spaces, something many, specifically Frozen’s Jennifer Lee, have recently suggested.

“I have never seen this sort of utopian state of where your gender doesn’t matter in any writers' room I’ve ever been in,” said Henderson. “I take [my gender] everywhere I go. [I] don’t do it apologetically. It’s okay, it’s not sad in any way that I am a woman. You just say, ‘There are these issues against me, and what am I going to do to overcome them?’”

Another topic discussed was the way technology -- particularly streaming and multi-platform viewing -- is changing the way many in the world experience television.

“You recognize that you have absolutely no control over what your show looks like when other people watch it, and that can drive you completely mad if you’re a perfectionist,” said Plec. “So you kind of have to tell the best story you can and let go of your expectations of what other people see.”

The second panel, centered around the topic of creative products, featured Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life), Robin Schiff (Are You There, Chelsea?), Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City), Meg DeLoatch (Austin & Ally) and USC Annenberg Professor Alison Trope. It was moderated by Annenberg Innovation Lab research associate Francesca Marie Smith.

The discussion focused on the way technology, particularly social media, has transformed the culture of television-watching.

“I felt very grateful that when we created My So-Called Life, the Internet had literally been invented right that second,” said Holzman.

Though social media has the power to create communities, it also has presents the danger of creating more vocal critics than ever before, the panelists agreed.

“It’s cool sometimes to see people react to what you’ve done,” said Bicks. “But you can’t try and please everyone.”

Both panels concluded on the topic of women in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, the consensus among the panelists was that there was a great need for further diversity not just in front of the camera, but also behind it.

“I always get defensive about the ‘women aren’t funny’ thing,” said Junge, who recalled several instances in which she faced sexism and misogyny throughout her career, particularly in comedic television. “If you’re reading 50 scripts, and 47 are by men, what are the odds?”

Many of the panelists agreed that their female mentors have been instrumental in shaping their careers, and that in order to further diversify the industry, women should in a sense “pay it forward” by mentoring others.

“It’s really neat to see that in TV ... and in the studio world, women are really reaching out and doing what they can to populate the ranks,” said Stacy Smith. “Because whether you’re in tech, or in the business side, we’re talking about 50-50. So until we get there, I think we really need a lot more mentorship and women bringing women up.”

About the Geek Speaks" series

“The goal of the Geek Speaks series has been to bring popular artists to campus to engage in thoughtful conversations that we think might be relevant to geeks her at USC,” said Jenkins. “[Geek Speaks] is intended to be kind of a homeland for geeks at USC.”

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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 23:53

By Olivia Niland

USC Annenberg’s second annual Climate Palooza event drew a diverse crowd of more than 300 people to “converse, connect and care” about climate change on Friday, March 28.

Attendees of all ages milled around USC Annenberg throughout six lively hours of Climate Palooza 2014, which offered climate-centric lectures and discussions, musical performances, sketch comedy, eco-friendly exhibitors and free food.

The event was presented by USC Visions and Voices and co-curated by the USC Annenberg Earth Sciences Communication Initiative (ESCI) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and featured various climate scientists from JPL and USC.

The ultimate goal of Climate Palooza, according to Annenberg Associate Professor Larry Pryor, is to engage the public in discussions of climate change and make scientific concepts more easily accessible.

“Climate Palooza is our attempt to look at new ways to communicate climate science,” said Pryor, ESCI co-founder and a former Los Angeles Times reporter and editor who also teaches environmental journalism at Annenberg. “We have to approach the climate change threat as a challenge that involves all of us.”

Climate science panels were presented in the Annenberg Auditorium as well as several other locations around the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and addressed topics such as “Droughts vs. Floods: Where Is Our Water Going?” and “Oceans Rise Up Against Us.”

“Almost all ecosystems are changing as a result of climate change [and] increased Co2 and land use,” said JPL research scientist Dave Schimel during the “Fate of the Terrestrial Biosphere” presentation. “When we look to the future, we’re talking about the fate of the biosphere here, we see...these negative effects from the climate becoming hotter and dryer in critical parts of the world...eventually taking over the beneficial effects of warming in the north and increasing Co2, and one of the great challenges is figuring out when those crossing points will occur.”

The “Fate of the Terrestrial Biosphere” presentation was also chaired by JPL climate scientist Josh Fisher and moderated by USC Annenberg Assistant Professor Mike Ananny. JPL’s Mike Gunson, Annmarie Eldering, Ian Fenty, Jorge Vazquez, Josh Willis as panelists and USC Dornsife Earth Sciences’ Sarah Freakins as a moderator.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to engage with presenting climate scientists throughout Climate Palooza, and encouraged to take part in activities such as Climate Jeopardy and “Angry Haiku” writing in which participants could “funnel [their] feelings about climate change into 17 classic syllables.” Climate Palooza also featured a debate between the Trojan Debate Squad and The Trojan Parliamentary Debate Club on the topic of whether carbon fuels should be left in the ground.

Climate Palooza entertainment included a theatrical performance by the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ Deep Map Theatre Project, music from Camino Real, and sketch comedy performed by Second City comedy group The Lollygaggers, with which JPL climate scientist Josh Willis performed.

Actor and climate change activist Ed Begley, Jr., was also in attendance and spoke at the outdoor Climate Lounge before introducing a musical performance by his daughter, Hayden.

A sneak peek of Showtime’s upcoming 10-hour climate change series Years of Living Dangerously, executive produced by James Cameron and featuring celebrity correspondents such as Matt Damon, Jessica Alba and Harrison Ford, set to premiere on April 13, was also screened by producer Stuart Sender.

“I worked on a segment that we filmed right here in Los Angeles about the impact of rising temperatures, and I guess the older people, we have to apologize to the younger people because it seems like we’ve left you a bit of a mess,” said Sender. “And it sounds like it’s only going to get a lot hotter in LA, so hopefully you guys are all going to get more educated about what’s happening. I also got to see though that there are some really great people in Los Angeles...who are thinking about how climate change is affecting our community.”

Sender’s reflection on how climate change is affecting younger generations was particularly fitting as the Years of Living Dangerously screening was attended by a group of elementary school students, one of whom excitedly proclaimed the documentary to be “uncontrollably awesome,” which seemed to be an overarching sentiment shared by many attendees at Climate Palooza 2014.

 

(Photo by Benjamin Dunn)

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Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 19:06

(LOS ANGELES, March 26, 2014) -- USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III announced today that Willow Bay has been named director of the School of Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Bay is a highly skilled journalist, author, producer, digital news editor and national broadcast and global cable television news anchor. Her selection as director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism follows a national search across the private sector and academia.

“The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Dean Wilson. “Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating – and defining – the digital future.”

“I cannot think of a greater director for the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, or a greater model of what journalism can achieve in today’s world,” said Wallis Annenberg, chairman, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation, and USC Board of Trustees member.

Bay arrives at USC Annenberg from positions as senior editor, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles; and special correspondent and host, Bloomberg TV. Bay’s career spans start-ups and legacy enterprises alike.

Bay’s prominent broadcast experience includes co-anchoring ABC News’ Good Morning America/Sunday; co-anchoring CNN’s Moneyline News Hour; hosting, lead writing and producing CNN’s long-form program, Pinnacle; substitute anchoring on NBC’s Early Today and other MSNBC/NBC programs; co-hosting NBA Inside Stuff; and hosting, writing and executive producing the Lifetime Television documentary, Spotlight 25.

Bay is a highly sought-after moderator at key forums for thought leaders and has led  panels with prominent politicians, philanthropists, athletes, cultural figures and CEOs such as Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Howard Schultz (Starbucks) and Larry Page (Google). Bay holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

"The professions of journalism and public relations are facing challenges and discovering opportunities in the face of rapid change and the development of new digital communication,” said Elizabeth Garrett, the university’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Assuming leadership of one of the preeminent schools of journalism at this crucial time, Willow Bay brings her long experience in various media forms, a keen intelligence and intellectual curiosity, and abundant energy to inspire students at all levels.  Her appointment and the opening of the state-of-the-art Wallis Annenberg Hall at USC mark a moment of transformation for our School of Journalism."

“I’m honored to join Dean Wilson and the world-class faculty and staff at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, which has educated and inspired some of the most prestigious and talented professionals in the field,” said Bay, who will take the helm in July. “I’ve had the privilege of personally hiring and working with some outstanding Annenberg graduates at The Huffington Post. I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields.”

Bay comes to USC Annenberg during an era of great imagination and invention. In recent years, for example, the school has opened the cutting-edge Annenberg Innovation Lab; launched the popular Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship initiative; experimented with wearable computing, augmented reality and 3-D printing; and emphasized creative collaborations across industries and disciplines. This includes expanded crossovers with the USC Annenberg School of Communication, which will have its own new director, Sarah Banet-Weiser, beginning this summer.

In Fall 2014, the School of Journalism will welcome its first cohort of nine-month Journalism M.S. students. This new degree will correspond with the grand opening of Wallis Annenberg Hall. This technologically transformative, 88,000-square-foot building located in the heart of the USC campus will feature a three-story media wall as well as professional-quality video, radio and vodcast studios and a digitally converged media center for the school's award-winning, student-run, online, broadcast television, documentary and radio news outlets and PR agency.

“We have a new building, a new program and a new era,” Dean Wilson said. “I’m thrilled that Willow Bay will be here to provide new leadership for our School of Journalism.”

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals, across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school's comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university in a global urban environment.

Contact: Anne Bergman, USC Annenberg, 818-378-5417 or anne.bergman@usc.edu

Photo credit: Alan Mittelstaedt

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Date: Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 21:02

By Olivia Niland

The USC Annenberg Innovation Lab collaborated with the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) on March 6 to present a short screening of Eyes Wide Open: This is Media. The documentary, produced by Participant Media’s Pivot TV Channel, addresses shifts in the way media is used, shared and produced, and was supported by a grant to be shown at colleges across the country.

The screening was hosted by Erin Reilly, Creative Director for Annenberg Innovation Lab, Research Director for Project New Media Literacies at USC Annenberg, and Vice President of NAMLE.

“This sort of documentary is really designed to spark conversation,” said Reilly, who encouraged attendees to use Twitter and an online survey to provide feedback about the screening.

Pivot TV, a recently launched television network aimed at millennials, is currently spearheading social action campaigns through film and television programming including Eyes Wide Open, and has also collaborated with USC Annenberg professor Henry Jenkins Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project to educate the public on digital media literacy.

“We are media producers, and we’re going to try to alter the way you think,” says the documentary’s narrator at the beginning of the film, setting the stage for the following discussion. “We want you to share what we tell you, we want you to buy what we’re selling.”

The twenty-two minute documentary was screened in the USC Annenberg auditorium and traced the history of the internet, social media platforms, and notable events in media sharing and privacy, two topics which were discussed at length by the evening’s panelists.

“I just want to reiterate the questioning part, and the skepticism, and just thoughtfully using and sharing [media],” said Alison Trope, Associate Director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and Associate Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts, during the Q-and-A following the film. “Not only pausing and reflecting, but…thinking more deeply about how you want your sharing and your media to represent you as an individual.”

Other topics touched upon by the film and following discussion included net neutrality, fact-checking and crowd-sourcing, particularly in the context of platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Reddit.

The Eyes Wide Open panel also included Virginia Kuhn, Associate Director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and Associate Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts, Judy Muller, USC Annenberg broadcast journalism professor, and Nicole Starr of Participant Media.

“Media literacy is such a broad subject,” said Starr. “It really took us a while to craft these three main pillars that we wanted to talk to millennials about; consider the source, recognize their role as a source, and consider the tradeoffs of giving up personal information online.”

Eyes Wide Open and the following discussion, the panelists agreed, was only the beginning of the conversation regarding media literacy, online privacy, and the implications of living digitally--particularly for young people, who are both the largest producers and consumers of digital content.

“You have the tools in your hands to be able to speak out,” Reilly told the audience at the event’s conclusion. “Instead of retweeting what’s been said here, stop, pause, think about what you want to add to the conversation and do it.”

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Date: Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 16:58

By Anne Bergman

With the aim of putting even more “palooza” into a second Climate Palooza, to be held Friday, March 28 at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, climate scientists will gather to share their knowledge in a decidedly more festive atmosphere than the typical academic conference, complete with music, drama and even some comedy.

The USC Annenberg Earth Sciences Communication Initiative (ESCI) is co-curating the event with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), capitalizing on the scientific minds behind the Mars Curiosity Rover, the Voyager space crafts as well as data-gathering missions focused on Earth’s weather, geology, and oceanography. The data JPL collects provides scientists with a comprehensive view of the effects of climate change, including: Sea level rise, a later snow season in California, drought impacts and melting glaciers.

And, in turn, JPL scientists and their work will benefit from the public exposure and communications strategies provided by the Annenberg partnership.

The first JPL-USC palooza event took place last January 24 at Annenberg, which got a good response. This year’s festival, presented as a Visions and Voices event, will build on last year’s trial run. The goal is to allow scientists, activists and the public to engage in discussion and share common concerns.

“Climate Palooza is our attempt to look at new ways to communicate climate science,” said Annenberg Associate Professor Larry Pryor, ESCI co-founder as well as a former Los Angeles Times reporter and editor who teaches environmental journalism at Annenberg. “We have to approach the climate change threat as a challenge that involves all of us.”

To that end, Josh Fisher, a scientist in the Water and Carbon Cycles Group at JPL, plans to bring “something along the cool spectrum” to his talk “Fate of the Terrestrial Biosphere.” Fisher learned to not underestimate the “cool factor” when NASA flight director “Mohawk Guy” (real name: Bobak Ferdowsi) became a viral sensation during the Mars Rover mission. (President Obama even took note, telling a group of JPL staffers, "You guys are a little cooler than you used to be.")

“Mohawk Guy was so effective, more effective than anything else we could do,” Fisher recently recalled. “His Mohawk alone…that visual was just so cool.”

While Fisher will be infusing cool into his presentation (with JPL colleague Dave Schimel, a research scientist). He’s also striving for objectivity in how he presents his material. “Although objectivity is impossible, you have to strive for it,” he said. “It’s not our job to be environmentalists; it just so happens that there’s a lot of overlap between us. If I say [climate change] is what’s happening on the planet, it’s purely scientific.”

This goal dovetails with JPL/NASA’s objective to “to engage the public in JPL/NASA’s missions by providing new pathways for participation; and to inform, engage, and inspire by sharing NASA’s missions, challenges, and results,” said Susan Callery, Earth Science Public Engagement Manager at JPL/NASA, noting that the Climate Palooza partnership with Annenberg is a “perfect fit for our outreach programs.”

Callery added that she hoped the event at Annenberg would help broaden JPL’s reach beyond  its La Cañada-Flintridge/Pasadena environs and also attract “college students who aren’t science majors.”

Meanwhile, Climate Palooza organizers at USC hope to instill the evening with a sense of “trust, so scientists feel they’re not separate from us,” said Pryor, adding that one of his goals as a science communicator is for the event to “encourage people to support scientific research.”

“It’s up to science communicators to provide researchers with spaces, such as science festivals, where their work can be encountered in ways that matter in our lives,” Pryor said. “This involves hands-on exposure and dialogue – the creation of common cultural ground. It involves the arts, innovation and levity.”

Art, music, drama, “angry Haiku,” even some puppet comedy, will be intertwined with provocative, yet concise, scientific presentations throughout the evening. In addition to presenting “Oceans Rise Up Against Us” with JPL oceanographer Jorge Vazquez, JPL climate scientist Josh Willis will provide some of the levity courtesy of his Second City puppet and sketch comedy troupe, the Lollygaggers.

In a friendly rivalry among climate scientists, JPL’s Mike Gunson and Annemarie Eldering, both atmospheric experts will tell how the Atmosphere Sees All, while Jay Famiglietti, a professor, Water and Climate Change, UC Irvine, and Tom Painter, a water and carbon researcher at  JPL, will take on Droughts vs. Floods: Where is Our Water Going?

Last year marked the first Climate Palooza collaboration and this year Callery promises the event will be “bigger and better! We’ve taken over the entire Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and have added many new events and activities. This year we will have a food and entertainment area called the Climate Lounge, a Fun Room where we will play games like ‘Climate Jeopardy,’ a  Take Action Room to discuss what individuals can do about climate change and many other new avenues for talking about climate change.”

JPL will host an exhibit area and the school’s East Lobby will be a venue for exhibitors from government, non-governmental organizations and activist groups. Students will contribute research project displays. And students from the Price School of Public Policy and Annenberg will debate where it might be best to let carbon fuels stay in the ground.

Actors from The Deep Map Theatre Project in the School of Dramatic Arts will perform plays written by students and will circulate among the attendees and engage them in improve theater, all with climate themes.

The Palooza format harks back to singer Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza in 1991, a kaleidoscopic event that offered something first class for everyone – various modes of rock, as well as hip hop bands, dance and comedy performances, and craft booths.

The 2014 version of Climate Palooza is supported by various campus groups, including The Center for Excellence in Teaching, The Sustainability Office, the Wrigley Institute, and Graduate Student Government.

Admission is free to Climatepalooza, with reservations requested in order to check in. To RSVP, click 
here .

Climate Palooza is produced by Visions and Voices, a university-wide arts and humanities initiative. For further information on this event: visionsandvoices@usc.edu

 

4 to 4:45 p.m.: Atmospheres Sees All

5 to 5:45 p.m.: Fate of the Terrestrial Biosphere
Josh Fisher, Climate scientist, JPL
Dave Schimel, Research Scientist, JPL

6 to 6:45 p.m.: Oceans Rise Up Against Us
Josh Willis, Climate Scientist, JPL
Jorge Vasquez, Oceanographer, JPL

7 to 7:45 p.m.: Droughts vs. Floods: Where is Our Water Going?

8:05 to 8:35 p.m.: A Performance by The Lollygaggers
A fun-for-all-ages sketch comedy show about climate change!

 

Take Action for a Sustainable Future!

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Date: Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 21:52

As part of the process to design classrooms in Wallis Annenberg Hall (ANN), Faculty participated in workshops and were surveyed about their ideal teaching environment and the resources they would want in a technologically state-of-the-art academic setting. The results of these engagements showed that USC Annenberg required a caliber of instructional space that surpasses standard classrooms.  Based on this, guiding design principles were established  that emphasized collaboration, flexibility, variety and choice with a focus on collaboration and content sharing tools.

Five different types of classrooms in ANN were designed:

  • Nine standard classrooms, with space for 24 occupants in each; including: dual projection in front of classroom; computer and Blu-Ray players; class capture systems; connectivity to Annenberg’s digital library; wireless screen share and Skype enabled
  • Three laptop classrooms, with space for 24 occupants in each; including: features of standard classroom, as well as secondary monitor and power available to every student
  • One large (64 occupants) and two small (32 occupants) multi-purpose classrooms with moveable walls 
  • Two parliamentary classrooms, with space for 36 occupants in each
  • 148- seat Auditorium with 4K projection, surround sound and full classroom technology capability    
  • One Instructional Learning classroom with a laptop cart housing 20 laptops

Wallis Annenberg Hall will also provide an additional 4,000 square feet of meeting, conference and collaboration spaces, with 8 rooms identified as general use that can be scheduled by Annenberg students, faculty and staff.

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Date: Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 21:38

-How many classrooms will be in Wallis Annenberg Hall?

23

-When will faculty and staff be moving into the new building?

Staff moves begin on June 1, 2014, and faculty moves begin on July 1, 2014.

-How many people will be moving offices from the existing building into the new building?

About 50 people will be moving into the new building. An additional 50 people will be moving within the existing building.

-Will the Kerckhoff building still be in use?

Yes, USC Annenberg will still use Kerckhoff for some offices and classes.

-What is happening to the existing ASCJ building?

USC Annenberg will be two buildings strong. The existing building will continue as an academic building and will still have offices for faculty and staff.

-When will we hear more about Wallis Annenberg Hall’s café?

Meetings are ongoing and there will be more info to follow soon.

-When is the grand opening of Wallis Annenberg Hall?

The formal ceremony, conducted in coordination with the President’s office, will take place on Oct. 1, 2014.

 





           

 

 

 



 

 

 

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Date: Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 21:25

When Wallis Annenberg Hall (ANN) opens in 2014, USC Annenberg will add eleven conference rooms, including a number of “unscheduled” rooms that can be used spontaneously for serendipitous meetings.

In addition to the existing building’s one conference room (Room 207), the USC Annenberg community will have collaborative spaces open throughout the school’s academic environment.

ANN’s formal meeting rooms will provide space for the USC Annenberg community to reserve locations for conferences in advance. These rooms will have all the standard set-up that every ANN room will have, including dry erase boards and tack-able surfaces on most walls, along with single projector screen or LCD display, built-in AV cabinet with computer and Blu-Ray player and laptop and mobile computing connections.

The new building will enhance the USC Annenberg community’s ability to collaborate on the fly, with six unscheduled project and collaboration rooms, as well as “huddle”/alcove spaces, throughout ANN. These rooms will have LCD display, laptop and mobile computing connections, and Wi-Fi.

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Date: Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 20:33

When Wallis Annenberg Hall opens in Fall 2014, USC Annenberg will nearly double its number of available classrooms. Currently the USC Annenberg academic community has access to 15 classrooms. Wallis Annenberg Hall will have 19 classrooms, and the existing ASC building will have nine in use, making a total of 28.

About 70 percent of the usable square footage in Wallis Annenberg Hall will be devoted to learning spaces, mostly made up of classrooms (50%), while the remaining 20 percent will be used to house the  schools  state-of-the-art media center.

ANN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wallis Annenberg Hall will also provide an additional 4,000 square feet of meeting, conference and collaboration spaces, with 8 rooms identified as general use that can be scheduled by Annenberg students, faculty and staff.

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Date: Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 19:27

By Michael Juliani

Ross Martin studied poetry during his time in higher education. Now, he’s the Executive Vice President of Viacom’s “creative SWAT team,” Scratch, a group of marketing misfits who target millenials with new approaches to advertising. In a digital media landscape where companies are constantly searching for new institutional methodologies, Martin says that Scratch’s “greatest asset is the people.”

With this credo framing how Martin runs his team, he has assembled a group of “misfits” whose jobs defy classification: “How do you list a job description for being a maverick?” Martin said.

Scratch’s mission is to be the department of tomorrow, with team members who are constantly dissolving the limits of what today’s media job looks like.   

Speaking with MTV correspondent Su-chin Pak at USC Annenberg’s Journalism Forum on Feb. 25 for the keynote event in Scratch’s weeklong stay as USC Annenberg's Media, Economics & Entrepreneurship M{2e}’s Executive-in-Residence, Martin focused mostly on how the individuality and passion of his team dictates how they approach each project.

Though Scratch’s purpose seems precariously open-ended, especially within a major media company like Viacom, their work has helped major advertisers speak the language of millenials. “Companies like MTV would fall apart if it weren’t for millenials,” Martin said.

Scratch was started about five years ago. The people on Martin’s team got their jobs by impressing him beyond the pool of hundreds of other candidates. One of the woman on his team got her job by approaching Martin after a talk he gave at Harvard Business School. He said a question she asked him blew him away so much that he exchanged email addresses with her and kept in touch over many months, leading to her hire.

Martin’s ethos is purposely open-ended to allow good ideas to come from anywhere: “I just want to do something that no one’s done before, because if there’s someone who’s done it before they can probably do it better than you…There’s no competition if you’re doing something new.”

Martin and Pak both stressed how preparedness allows you to be more creative, especially if your mission is as subjective as Scratch’s. “I’ve never seen a better-put-together presentation than the ones these guys do,” Pak said.

“You have to do your homework to be able to go out on a limb,” Martin added. “When we meet with someone, we already know everything about them…We’ve already won people over before we go into meetings.

While the Scratch team was in L.A. as Executive-in-Residence at M{2e}, they kept busy meeting with other collaborators on the side, including musician Will.i.am and Paramount Studios.

Martin said that Scratch’s main challenge is finding collaborators who approach their jobs with the same level of passion and drive as his team. He and Pak agreed that the intangible abilities that Scratch team members have always boil down to a mix of skill and self-assurance. “They don’t know where they’re headed, so it takes that combination,” Pak said.

Professor Gabriel Kahn, Co-Director of M{2e}, said that when he approached Martin about coming to USC Annenberg, he was surprised by Martin’s response: he wanted to bring his whole team and make the most out of the weeklong residency. “We may never be able to go back to the way we did things before [with the residency],” Kahn said.

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Date: Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 22:31

By Olivia Niland

USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship hosted its semi-annual health journalism training institute Feb. 24-27. The theme of the four-day institute was health and place, and aimed to train and inform California health journalists through a series of panels and workshops.

One portion of the conference focused on “Health Reform in California: The Road Ahead,” featuring Gerald F. Kominski, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment. The discussion, held Wednesday at the USC Davidson Conference Center, was moderated by Anna Gorman, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News and focused mainly on the implementation the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the state’s health insurance marketplace, Covered California.

“This is easily the biggest thing to happen to the health system in fifty years,” said Ross of ACA. “Probably the biggest thing that will happen for at least another twenty or thirty. I can’t imagine anything this big being tried by anyone who has watched what has happened to President Obama. No politician in their right mind would try to do anything in health care on this scale again.”

Kominski agreed about the scale of the ACA rollout, and both panelists likened universal healthcare to other the social movements of the past century.

“The ACA is a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement and the social justice that began sixty years ago,” said Kominski. “It is quite clear that the ACA through subsidies will be addressing, in a very direct way, poverty in the United States.”

Ross, as noted by Gorman, grew up in a poor area of New York and worked as a pediatrician during the crack cocaine epidemic in Philadelphia in the 1980s, witnessing first-hand the role that factors such as race, income and geography play in one’s quality of life and access to health care.

Coincidentally, Ross paid a visit to the White House the day after the discussion to meet with President Obama regarding “My Brother’s Keeper,” a program that aims to create opportunities for boys and young men of color, and stressed that Obamacare will work to decrease the disparity of coverage for low income and minority patients seen in the previous healthcare system.

“We’re really interested in how the AFA gives us the platform to make the health care system more prevention-oriented and more equity-minded in its orientation,” said Ross. “I feel like we’re in the Super Bowl now. This is our shot at fixing [the healthcare system], and if Obamacare fails, which I don’t think it will...single payer insurance is where we go next. There’s no market way to fix this other than Obamacare.”

Though it has received a fair share of criticism, Covered California, both Kominski and Ross agreed, has already proven successful.

“If you’re grading on the curve, California’s doing really well,” said Ross. “In an absolute basis, we’re doing okay. This is the biggest thing that’s happened in healthcare in half a century; it’s going to take us more than four or five months to get it right. I think it’s going to take us a couple of cycles of enrollment periods to get in rhythm with this new law."

Among the 25 states that have already chosen to implement the Affordable Care Act, California’s rollout of the program has already proven successful, though it will certainly not be without its problems, Kominski acknowledged.

“Because of lower premiums in California than we originally expected, and the better success that we’re having in terms of enrolling uninsured people, we could be down to two and a half million uninsured Californians in three years,” said Kominski. “But that’s still a lot of people. California’s going to a unique set of challenges.”

Some of these challenges, noted Kominski and Ross, arise simply from the fact that California is the most populous state in the nation and also one of the largest geographically, in addition to the fact that it is home to many undocumented immigrants and people who may not qualify for Covered California for various other reasons.

California’s many ethnic communities, and those around the country, generally, have also shown lower ACA enrollment rates due to the fact that many people rely far more heavily on the testimonies of friends and families than politicians.

“In America, we’re a living room, dining room culture,” said Ross. “Talking to someone and meeting someone who has benefited from [ACA] in your family or down the street is going to be better than any ad campaign, and in particular for ethnic communities. They’re not just message communities, they’re messenger communities; trust is a big deal. That was the best marketing campaign you could come up with.”

Despite these challenges, the state has already made its own mark on the ACA rollout by offering far fewer levels of insurance than other states in favor of standardizing copayments and deductibles, which seems to signal that California is taking a flexible approach to the issue, according to Kominski.

“The fact that there is allowance with state variation means that California can do some things that nobody else is doing and meet the challenges in a way that’s unique to California,” said Kominski. “It’s a pleasure to live in a state where this is an opportunity to get things right, and this is a transformative model as opposed to ‘we’ll do as little as possible to comply with the law.’”

The discussion, attended by about three dozen health journalists and experts, was followed by a Q-and-A session and a reception in the conference center. During the question and answer portion, several journalists made inquiries about what the panelists perceived to be the lifespan of the ACA.

“There are new opportunities every day of issues to fight on and fight about with regards to the ACA,” said Kominski. “If history has taught us nothing else...it’s that those of us who support this law and support a more equal health care system, and the next generation and the next generation are going to have to continue to fight to maintain what we’ve achieved in the last few years...all of this could unravel in a couple of years, depending on what way the country goes politically.”

Though both Kominski and Ross acknowledged the possibility of the ACA disappearing when President Obama leaves office, both essentially said that focus must remain on increasing participation in the program at the present moment.

“The politics we can’t control,” said Ross. “It’s not that I don’t worry about it, but I’m not worrying about it at the expense of getting enrollment up in California.”

The success of enrollment in California, and across the country, said Kominski, is now in the hands of the lawmakers, health care providers, and citizens who have advocated to bring universal health care to the point it has reached today.

“We have got to continue to fight for there to be progress,” said Kominski. “It has taken us 50 years to get to this point. It takes a lot of courage….but it is an ongoing battle.”

 

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Date: Monday, 03 Mar 2014 20:56

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced today that its fundraising initiative has quickly surpassed $100 million since launching in fall 2012, with approximately $50 million currently remaining toward the $150-million goal.  USC Annenberg’s fundraising initiative is part of the broader Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multi-year effort to raise $6 billion to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand the university’s positive impact on the community and world.

Aimed at investing in generations of students and scholars exploring and developing the digital future, the initiative is raising money to enhance the visionary new Wallis Annenberg Hall with labs, studios, technology and to provide student scholarships and fellowships; chaired professorships and funding for new initiatives led by students and faculty.

$100m



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gift that pushed the fundraising past the $100 million mark came from the family of USC Annenberg alumnus Tim Novoselski (’73), who died last summer. The bequest, made by his wife Denise (’72), honors Tim’s memory by endowing a scholarship for undergraduate journalism students.

“Tim received a scholarship that enabled him to attend USC,” said Denise, who met her husband while both were working at the student newspaper, the Daily Trojan. “That scholarship gave him a life that he otherwise would never have had.”

Over the years, Denise and Tim partnered in various publishing ventures, from the McCall Star News in Idaho to Special Events magazine based in Malibu.“ We learned that the quality of journalism is paramount, whether in business or consumer news publishing,” Denise said. “Shortly after Tim died, I was considering bequests and I thought it was important to give another young person an opportunity like Tim had. Helping those who want to go into journalism is critically important.”

She added: “Tim never would have envisioned that he would be memorialized with an endowment to USC that was to become so significant. He would have been immensely proud to know that he’d helped to achieve that $100 million milestone.”

In making the contribution, Denise joined more than 3,000 other USC Annenberg donors who have supported the initiative. Of these donors, 88% made gifts of less than $1,000 and for many these were their first gifts to USC Annenberg. The initiative is already having an impact, supporting the construction of the technologically transformative, state-of-the-art building set to open in fall 2014, student aid, as well as USC Annenberg’s academic priorities. (View a fly-through video of Wallis Annenberg Hall; visit the project construction blog.)

Once completed, Wallis Annenberg Hall will enhance USC Annenberg’s role as a leader of a new era of digital media communication and education. Wallis Annenberg Hall, with five floors and 88,000 square feet and located on the University Park campus, will be a physical manifestation of USC Annenberg’s dedication to collaboration and experimentation.

“I would like to thank each and every one of you who has shown our school such generosity,” said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. “The outpouring of support, from more than three thousand sources, is a tribute to the extraordinary work being done by our students, alumni, faculty and staff.”

Added Wilson: “We still have so much important work to do to reach our goal. Every gift counts.”

Planning for the building was initiated by a $50 million lead gift from the Annenberg Foundation at the direction of Wallis Annenberg, who is also the foundation’s president and CEO. The new construction will supplement the school’s current operations in its existing building, which was recently declared a Historic-Cultural Monument by the Los Angeles City Council.  

Individuals such as Annenberg alumni Jacki Wells Cisneros and Corii and Cari Berg have made pledges and selected their recognition within the new building. Cisneros, a Mega Millions lottery winner and former assignment desk editor at KCBS and KNBC, will aptly name the assignment desk, the hub of the converged newsroom and media center. While, Berg, an executive at Sony Pictures Television, chose to name an open meeting area designed so that students can effectively collaborate on assignments.  There remain additional naming opportunities in the new building.

Since its inception, the initiative has also generated funds for the likes of:

However, to fully equip the new facility, as well as fund student aid and sustain faculty research and special initiatives, USC Annenberg still needs to raise $50 million. With the initiative two-thirds of the way toward completion, there remains time to support USC Annenberg with a donation.

For Denise, the bequest she made to honor her husband is just the beginning of her Annenberg giving. “I would like to ask friends and family to donate to the scholarship annually on the anniversary of Tim's death, and then I would match the funds, to help future students,” she said.  “I believe that it’s critical to tell stories about the human condition, the political system, world events and we need trained professionals to do that; we need journalism students who know how to report the news impartially. And I really felt strongly that I needed to earmark the scholarship to someone who felt the same way about pursuing journalism as a career as my husband Tim.”

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals, across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school's comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university in a global urban environment.

 

Invest in the future of USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Give now.

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Date: Friday, 28 Feb 2014 01:59

The following is a journal entry from student writers Helene Imperiale and Emily Schatzle, directors of the Master of Public Diplomacy Delegation to São Paulo, Brazil.

Every year, select students from the USC Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC Annenberg travel abroad to conduct field research, which furthers the study of public diplomacy and international communications. This year, the Class of 2014 selected São Paulo, Brazil for its unique position in world politics.

Brazil is currently transitioning from a regional and hemispheric hegemon to a global power. Brazil is truly at a crossroads: it is a rising power with immense economic and political potential, yet at the same time, suffers many of the ills of a still-developing country.

In order to get the full picture of public diplomacy in Brazil, we met with a wide range of organizations, spanning the academic, diplomatic, private, corporate, and non-profit communities. We began the week meeting with the U.S. Consul General, Dennis Hankins, to discuss the U.S.-Brazilian relationship and Brazil’s challenges of successes, including the growing employment rate, building infrastructure, as well as the expanding middle class. After our meeting at the U.S. Consulate, the group was off to Rede Globo to meet with renowned journalist and author, William Waack.   

Day two was spent with University of São Paulo professors discussing international relations and digital engagement strategies.  As USC recently opened its first office in São Paulo, we had the opportunities to make connections with universities in São Paulo. Paulo Rodriguez, the Director of the USC Global Initiative office in Brazil, helped throughout the trip and secured one of our most interesting meetings at the Palacio dos  Bandeirantes or the São Paulo State Governor's Palace.

We visited the Palacio dos Bandeirantes on day three. Helena Monteiro, the head of international cooperation for the State Government’s Office of Foreign Affairs, graciously took the time to sit down and discuss diplomacy in the State of São Paulo.  The United States shares an interesting relationship with the State of São Paulo, as it was the first subnational government to sign bilateral agreements with the U.S.  The goal of the Office of International Cooperation is to present the very best of the State of São Paulo.  We learned about Investe São Paulo, the state’s effort to bring in international investment, which helps businesses understand Brazilian tax codes and determine how best to invest in the area.  In addition to branding São Paulo as a business hub, the Office of International Cooperation also focuses on branding São Paulo’s culture, education, and health care.  The Palacio, in addition to being the seat of the state government and the governor’s official residence, houses an incredible collection of art, which we had the opportunity to view.  Portraits of past governors, collections of gifts from other cities, and paintings representing São Paulo and Brazil allowed us a glimpse of the pomp and circumstance surrounding formal diplomacy. Colin Hale, a member of the Master of Public Diplomacy delegation, commented on São Paulo’s potential to be recognized as a global city.

“São Paulo is perhaps the only global city that hasn't yet been recognized as such. Overcoming that disconnect, especially in the U.S., is the task that lays before both the state and city of São Paulo,” Hale said. “The massive diaspora populations from Europe, Africa, and Asia allow São Paulo to develop and strengthen its global reach - it can talk with Tokyo, Beijing, Berlin, Milan, and Los Angeles.”

“São Paulo is perhaps the most enigmatic in the class of global cities. It is very much Brazilian, but it also transcends Brazil.”

Day four took us outside of São Paulo to the town of Nazare Paulista. It was there that we found the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas, an organization which conducts ecological research and works hard to combat deforestation in Brazil.

On our final day of meetings, we visited the City Hall of São Paulo and met with the city’s international relations city clerk, Leonardo Barchini, and his team who is helping to organize World Cup events and branding in São Paulo. That afternoon, we met with Brazil’s federal tourism promotion agency, Embratur, which reports to the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism and works exclusively on marketing and supporting the trading of Brazilian services, products, and tourist destinations abroad. Embratur’s American Marketing Coordinator, Alexandre Nakagawa, flew down from Brasilia to join us for the afternoon and learn about their promotion efforts within the United States.

Tenille Metti, one of the students on the trip, was amazed by the diversity of the meetings.  "Brazil was an especially attractive destination for us as public diplomacy scholars. Our time there allowed us to delve deep into many different aspects of public diplomacy that we could simply not get anywhere else.”

“For example, the same day that we had met with the U.S. Consulate in São Paulo, we also met with the second largest international broadcasting company, [Rede] Globo,” Metti said. “Beyond that, we met with several academics at Universidad o São Paulo, ESPN Brasil, among many meaningful professionals. Each of these meetings, along with many cultural experiences, truly enriched our understanding of Brazilian public diplomacy."

Although the focus of this trip was on innovations in Public Diplomacy, we also had the opportunity to participate in cultural experiences such as a soccer game and samba. The Palmeiras-Audax match was thrilling and a prime example to witness culture and sport diplomacy. For some of us, this experience changed our understanding of soccer and the true cultural connection that Brazilians have with sport. Additionally, we attended a Samba School Rehearsal at Pérola Negra. Each Sunday leading up to Carnival, local samba schools hold rehearsals where locals sing, dance, and even participate in the celebrations. These experiences let us gain a deeper understanding of Brazilian culture and its soft power exports.

We would like to acknowledge trip would not have been possible without the support from the Master of Public Diplomacy program director, Nick Cull, Center on Public Diplomacy Director Jay Wang, and the entire Annenberg community.

Photo taken by Gabriel Bernadett-Shapiro

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Date: Friday, 28 Feb 2014 01:29

By Anne Bergman

According to newspaper publisher Aaron Kushner, the reports that the print medium is dead have been greatly exaggerated.

Kushner said he expects the Orange County Register, which Kushner’s private equity firm 2100 Trust LLC purchased in 2012, to be profitable this year. This news pricked up the ears of the Annenberg students, faculty and staff attending the “Journalism Forum: The Community-Building Role of Newspapers” hosted by USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III on February 25.

Kushner’s appearance also drew to campus an Associated Press reporter, the web editor from La Opinion and the publisher of the Outlook newspapers. All were curious about Kushner’s business model as well as when his latest venture, the Los Angeles Register, will debut. With the L.A. Register, Kushner -- whose portfolio includes the Press-Enterprise in the Inland Empire and various Southern California publications -- plans to take on the LA Times in its own backyard.

While acknowledging that the Times is “a very good national newspaper,” Kushner said, “We produce a different kind of newspaper and the community will be better off. We have a different political perspective that will over time prove valuable to Angelenos.”

Dean Wilson introduced Kushner, who was accompanied by Brian Calle (’05), opinion editor, Orange County Register; Donna Wares, managing editor, Orange County Register; and Ron Sylvester, Los Angeles Register editor. Dean Wilson asked Kushner to discuss his vision for the future of his publishing enterprise.

“We exist to build community,” Kushner replied. “Reporting is one of the tools we use. New technologies can open up storytelling channels, but we are decidedly NOT digital-first. We are subscriber-first and our advertisers are number two.”

Kushner further explained that chasing after digital dollars, which he said represents 10 percent of his revenue, will not lead to long-term success. If newspapers are going to be successful well into future, they will need to beef up their subscriber base, he said.

In addition, Kushner disputed the notion that online reader “clicks” can be accurately measured or that they should be used to dictate what gets published in the newspaper. “Just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean it’s accurate,” he said. “Our most clicked-on stories are all crime-related. But our entire world doesn’t revolve around crime.”

Kushner expressed a similar attitude toward focus groups. “Editors should make the judgment. Just as we are not just tossing out link bait, we don’t think you can ‘focus group’ your way to a better newspaper product. Instead, we’ve found a direct correlation between a better product and a great staff.”

Kushner remained calm and collected, even as skeptical faculty members questioned him about the longevity of a business model focused primarily on print.

He went on to critique newspapers for being “incredibly depressing.” Kushner asked the crowd: “How many of you enjoy feeling depressed?” Annenberg Digital News Managing Editor Alan Mittelstaedt was the only person in the room to raise his hand. “Well, 90 percent of newspapers are targeting you,” Kushner told him.

“What you write, how you write it, ends up creating a personality,” the publisher said, noting that his staff “crafts a product they find enjoyable.”

In the end, Kushner said putting together a successful newspaper is “an art not a science. It’s really the quality of the narrative that matters.”

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Date: Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 22:48

By Alex Reed

As an international student who was born and raised in Korea, it took USC Annenberg Ph.D. candidate Young Ji Kim awhile to get comfortable leading lectures as a Communication teaching assistant.

“I was always nervous, I over-prepared, and things like that,” said Kim, “Then after a few semesters and after I got some good feedback from students, I got more confidence.”

And all her hard work paid off. Her latest praise came in the form of the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching. She was one of three teaching assistants to be recognized this year.

“It was big surprise, and I was really touched,” said Kim, who added that she was just honored to be nominated.

Kim’s first teaching experience was as a teaching assistant for Professor Ken Sereno’s introductory communications course (COMM 200). It was in this course that Kim learned the fundamentals of managing a classroom.

“[Sereno] has his authority not by forcing it, but by just being himself, and he also cares a lot about students,” said Kim.

After five semesters with Sereno, a really unique opportunity presented itself to Kim. She was asked to help Communication Professor Lian Jian design her research methods course (Understanding Social Science Research), as well as act as head teaching assistant. Kim helped choose appropriate research papers for the course and design exam questions.

Jian also allowed Kim to teach two lectures on her own during the semester.

“Her teaching style is very calm and she presents things very systematically,” said Jian. “She has this very friendly style, she’s not flashy, and she’s approachable.”

Jian added that Kim was good at establishing close relationships with the students. Any help she provided for students was very personalized to their learning style and individual struggles.

“I think she really went above and beyond what was called for as a TA,” said Jian, adding that Kim was a truly deserving candidate of the teaching assistant award.

When Sereno went on sabbatical last year, Kim was even given the opportunity to teach COMM 200 on her own during the spring semester, as well as during the summer. Last fall, she taught a communication course on empirical research methods (COMM 301L). She is teaching the same course this semester.

When she found out she had received the teaching assistant award, she first shared the news with her dissertation adviser Andrea Hollingshead.

“It was really meaningful for both of us because she knew how much I struggled and tried to improve my teaching,” Kim said of Hollingshead. “The culmination of all of this was the award.”

Kim will be recognized on April 8 at the Academic Honors Convocation Ceremony.

This summer, Kim plans to finish up her dissertation about online source credibility and how people assess the validity of online information. In regards to teaching, Kim said her experiences at USC Annenberg have made her want to continue teaching in the future.

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Date: Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 18:44

In spring 2012, USC Annenberg won an open competition by the Federal Communications Commission to lead a group of prominent scholars from top universities in conducting a literature review (of approximately 500 scholarly articles) regarding the “critical information needs” of the American public. Our purpose was to provide and encourage fact-based, nonpartisan and rigorous analysis in support of policy-making at a time of sweeping changes in the media and in American society.
 
The resulting findings have been highly regarded, and embraced by the FCC with the goal of meeting the agency’s statutory mandate of issuing a triennial report to Congress about the barriers that “may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace, and pursue policies to eliminate those barriers.” This literature review was the extent of USC Annenberg's involvement in the project.

All Americans understand that news outlets play a critical role in providing a valuable public service, such as alerting the public when a hurricane is imminent, providing essential information about health and employment opportunities, or informing citizens about policies that their local city council is considering. Understanding this role and how it is changing in the 21st Century was the focus of the Annenberg-led study.
 
There are far-reaching changes underway in the media outlets that Americans rely upon for critical information. Study after study show that newspapers are vanishing at a rapid rate. Consolidation in the radio industry has put increasing numbers of radio stations under the control of owners who live and work far away from the listeners. And now the TV industry is facing its own consolidation.
 
Americans must have access to nonpartisan, rigorous and accurate information so that they can understand the profound impact of these changes on the ability of local communities to get information in a timely manner. The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is proud to have led this scholarly effort, and we remain deeply committed to the value of advancing information in the public interest. Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg established the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. His mission statement remains the central focus of the School:

“Every human advancement or reversal can be understood through communication. The right to free communication carries with it the responsibility to respect the dignity of others, and this must be recognized as irreversible. Educating students to communicate this message effectively and to be of service to all people is the enduring mission of this School.”

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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 18:12

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced last week another expansion of its campus entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, to Southern California. The three-year, $3.5-million partnership includes USC Annenberg and several other campuses: The University of California, Los Angeles, The University of California, Irvine, and The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

The program will introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide over 110,000 university students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system.

Blackstone LaunchPad California will foster connectivity between the university campuses, business community, and local entrepreneurs to create an environment that nurtures students and provides them the skills and network necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs. With a physical presence on each university campus, Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate some 1,400 new ventures in California over the next five years.

The partnership will specifically include USC Annenberg’s Innovation Lab (AIL), directed by Professor Jonathan Taplin.

“With this grant, our students will be further enabled, giving them the resources to launch cutting-edge projects with immense potential,” said Taplin. “I want to express my appreciation to Stephen Schwarzman and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, who are at the forefront of innovation and outreach. I’m thrilled to be working with them as we strive to encourage invention and creativity, while fostering entrepreneurship.”

Erin Reilly, AIL’s Creative Director / Research Fellow, added, “When we began the Annenberg Innovation Lab, we took our initial money and invested it in our students by developing the CRUNCH Student Design Competition which has expanded its reach across campus each year. Now with the support from the Blackstone Foundation, we can transform this program into the Blackstone Launchpad @ USC. This grant expands the opportunities for USC students to ‘learn by doing’ both by providing a maker space for projects to become a reality, concretizing their ideas into actionable social and profitable ventures as well as fostering community throughout the LA region.”

Blackstone LaunchPad is modeled after a successful program developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 1,703 business proposals, 559 new jobs and drawn over 3,600 participants since its establishment. Each regional program established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is linked together, drawing ideas and best practices from across 11 campuses, giving student entrepreneurs in southern California access to a national community of over 350,000 of their peers and expert advisers. 

Elizabeth Garrett, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Southern California, said, “Blackstone LaunchPad fosters the talent, courage and curiosity that we value in student entrepreneurs at USC and across our partner institutions. The expanded access and flexibility afforded by this program, in association with the Annenberg Innovation Lab, will provide a strong foundation for creating new ventures that enhance both our academic community and the Southern California region.”

Funding for this program is made possible through The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s $50 million, five-year Entrepreneurship Initiative, which seeks to target support services regionally for aspiring entrepreneurs creating the high-growth ventures that are known to spark economic growth. Due to the early success of the program following its implementation in Michigan, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was recognized by President Obama’s “Startup America” Initiative and pledged to expand LaunchPad to five new regions over five years. This expansion to southern California fulfills that pledge. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said“On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I'd like to commend Stephen Schwarzman and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for making this significant investment in our city's future.  I'm focused on improving LA's economy and helping our graduates start companies here, and I'm excited this program can give young Angelenos the skills they need to achieve their dreams in LA.”

 

(Photo by Anaka Morris)

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