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FCC report highlights work by USC researchers

FCC Report Highlights Work by USC Researchers
Senior fellow Cinny Kennard

Cinny Kennard, an award-winning journalist and senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, was a key member of the working group that conducted research for a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report assessing the state of the national and local media landscape and offering major policy recommendations on how to preserve the public’s access to news and information.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski publicly thanked Kennard and USC in his remarks at the commission’s meeting in Washington D.C., on June 9.

Kennard assembled a research team of USC students and alumni that included junior fellows Rebecca Shapiro and Monica Alba, along with research associates Cater Lee and Sarah Erickson. The team investigated the evolution of television news by looking at trends and changes in the work force, the adjustment to the forces of advancing technology and business viability of the news.

The team also assisted in research, interviews and writing portions of the report on radio news, public broadcasting and local TV news.

“The best of the local TV stations prove day in and day out that local TV news can be great – not only performing the great functions of journalism but doing so in a way that is accessible to a broad cross-section of the community,” the report stated. “Unfortunately, the evidence is strong that many local TV stations have not stepped up to meet the challenges of the moment and in too many cases may even have moved backward … it appears that many local TV news operations have not seized the opportunity presented them by the changing media landscape. So far, they have not filled the gaps left by newspapers.”

The report, “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age,” examined commercial and nonprofit media delivered across all formats: newspapers, radio, television, Internet and mobile from a variety of sources, including commercial cable, educational institutions, government, religious broadcasters, among others.

The report also draws on additional research by director Geoffrey Cowan and senior fellow David Westphal, including several citations of their 2010 report, “Public Policy and Funding the News.”

“The report’s findings and recommendations contain a strong and hopeful throughline: There has never been a more exciting time than this broadband age to achieve our Founding Fathers’ vision of a free democracy comprised of informed and empowered citizens,” Genachowski said. “As the report identifies and celebrates the potential of new communications technologies, it also highlights important gaps that threaten to limit that potential and harm communities.”

The report concludes with three recommendations:

• Accelerate the move from paper to online disclosure of FCC required information provided by licensees about their programming and operations.

• Remove barriers to innovation and online entrepreneurship by pushing for universal broadband deployment and adoption.

• Target existing federal spending at local media. This recommendation echoes findings from the Cowan-Westphal report that documents the significant public support of media, including paid government advertising.

For more information on the report, visit

FCC report highlights work by USC researchers

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