Nationally respected journalists, as well as community leaders and news media executives from Central New York, gathered at the Newhouse School on April 4, 2012 for a daylong symposium focusing on the future of local news and its impact on the community. The event was sponsored by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Through a series of panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions with the audience, “The News Re-imagined” focused on the viability of foundation-funded journalism, and looked at how local news coverage can better serve the community and the impact when there is a lack of in-depth reporting on various subjects.

The event opened with welcoming remarks from Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham, followed by a keynote address by Steven Waldman, author of the FCC report.

During the first panel, “Foundation-funded Journalism: The Making of Headlines,” participants discussed the current state of foundation-funded journalism at the national level, as well as the issue of maintaining editorial independence. Panelists included Kevin Davis, CEO of Investigative News Network; Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of ProPublica; Peggy Girshman, executive editor of Kaiser Health News; and Steve Katz, publisher of Mother Jones. Waldman was moderator.

The second panel, “In-depth Local News: Successes and Challenges,” focused on news organizations’ successes and challenges in providing consistent and specialized coverage of issues such as health care, education and local government. Panelists were Jim Aroune, vice president of broadcasting with WCNY-TV (PBS); Lissa Harris, editor of; Ashley Kang ’04, G’11, director of The Stand; Ron Lombard ’81, news director of YNN—Your News Now (Syracuse); and Rex Smith, vice president and editor of the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.). Moderator was Al Tompkins, senior broadcast faculty with the Poynter Institute.

The third panel, “The News Re-imagined: Community Needs and Foundation Response,” addressed such questions as, What does the community need and want from local reporting? What is the impact on the community when there is a lack of consistent in-depth coverage of important issues?  What role can foundations play? Panelists were Clark Bell, journalism program director with the McCormick Foundation; John Eberle G’03, vice president for grants and community initiatives with the Central New York Community Foundation; Michael Henesey, coordinator of communications with the Syracuse City School District; Helen Hudson, at-large member of Syracuse Common Council; and Fanny Villarreal, founder and executive director of Nosotros Radio. Moderator was Hub Brown, associate dean with the Newhouse School.

The symposium was funded through a $20,000 grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which asked top communications schools to take action on the FCC report through seminars and research projects. Carnegie and Knight are dedicating more than $800,000 to help implement the report’s recommendations.


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