Meeting the Information Needs of Communities

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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Steven Waldman, who directed the Federal Communications Commission's study of the state of U.S. journalism, delivered the keynote address on Nov. 15 at a day-long symposium on the comprehensive and far-reaching report.

The Missouri School of Journalism and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute hosted the symposium, "Information Needs of Communities: How FCC Reforms Could Shape the Local Media Landscape." The FCC report, the most thorough examination ever of today's news media, found local journalism in crisis, with newspapers declining and online media failing to replace the accountability reporting that is being lost.

The symposium examined the potential impact of the FCC's recommendations on commercial and non-profit media. The symposium highlighted innovation in Missouri media and feature discussion among top executives. Amy McCombs, Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies, and Barbara Cochran, Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism, moderated those sessions.

The School offered a unique perspective as it operates both a commercial NBC affiliate, KOMU-TV, and one of the nation's leading NPR stations, KBIA-FM. As the world's first school of journalism and one whose mission is to train journalists in real-world media outlets, Missouri has a long history of journalistic excellence and a strong interest in the FCC recommendations and the implications of future policy decisions.

Sponsors included the Carnegie Corporation and Knight Foundation.

Keynote Speaker: Steven Waldman

Steve Waldman

Steven Waldman, former senior advisor to the Federal Communications Commission and author of the FCC’s major report on the state of the media, is now a visiting senior media policy scholar at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York. The FCC report, “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age,” was called (by NPR’s On the Media) “one of the most comprehensive overviews of the US media ever produced.” The report also assessed significant policy and regulatory issues, and put forth recommendations for government, the private sector and nonprofit media. As a scholar at Columbia, he is studying emerging media issues and exploring implementation strategies for the report’s recommendations.

Previously, Waldman was the co-founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of, the leading spirituality website, founded in 1999. Beliefnet won the top editorial awards on the Internet, including the General Excellence Award from the Online News Association and the National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online.

Before creating Beliefnet, Waldman served as National Editor of US News & World Report and was National Correspondent for Newsweek. He is author of the New York Times bestseller Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America. He also served as Senior Advisor to the CEO of the Corporation for National Service in the 1990s.

Waldman's work has appeared in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review Online, Huffington Post, The Atlantic,, The Washington Monthly and Slate. He has been a regular commentator on national television and radio programs including Fox & Friends, Fox Business, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, ABC World News, NPR’s All Things Considered and On the Media, and many others. He was named a “Spiritual Innovator” by Time magazine.

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