Syracuse University

SU News

Newhouse School will host symposium examining future of local news

March 29, 2012

Wendy S. Loughlin
(315) 443-2785

Nationally respected journalists, as well as community leaders and news media executives from Central New York, will gather at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for a daylong symposium focusing on the future of local news and its impact on the community. “The News Re-imagined: The Promise of Foundation-funded Journalism” will be held on Wednesday, April 4, from 9:25 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. The event will be webcast live at Follow on Twitter at #newjourn.

newsThe news media has experienced tremendous upheaval in the past several years. As consumers increasingly turn to online and mobile platforms for their news and information, traditional media companies and their newsrooms have struggled to adapt and survive, while new media companies have struggled to find their footing and become sustainable.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a report titled “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age,” which sought to ensure the long-term health of news and information resources as a benefit to communities and their citizens. Among other things, the report recommended a new role in journalism for foundations, philanthropists and citizens.

Through a series of panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions with the audience, the symposium will focus on the viability of foundation-funded journalism, and will also look 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 will begin at 9:25 a.m. with welcoming remarks from Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham, followed by a keynote address by Steven Waldman, author of the FCC report, at 9:30 a.m.

The first panel, “Foundation-funded Journalism: The Making of Headlines,” will begin at 10:30 a.m. Participants will discuss the current state of foundation-funded journalism at the national level, as well as the issue of maintaining editorial independence. Panelists are 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 is moderator.

Following a break, the second panel, “In-depth Local News: Successes and Challenges,” will begin at 1 p.m. Participants will discuss their news organizations’ successes and challenges in providing consistent and specialized coverage of issues such as health care, education and local government. They will also discuss the FCC recommendation that foundation funding should support the hiring and placement of specialized local reporters in newsrooms. Panelists are 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 is Al Tompkins, senior broadcast faculty with the Poynter Institute.

The third panel, “The News Re-imagined: Community Needs and Foundation Response,” will begin at 2:30 p.m. Participants will address 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 include Clark Bell, journalism program director with the McCormick Foundation; John Eberle, vice president for grants and community initiatives with the Central New York Community Foundation; Elisa Morales, housing supervisor with La Liga: The Spanish Action League of Onondaga County; Michael Henesey, coordinator of communications with the Syracuse City School District; and Helen Hudson, at-large member of Syracuse Common Council. Moderator is Hub Brown, associate dean with the Newhouse School.

A reception will follow.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in SU pay lots. For more information, see or contact Kristen Northrop at 315-443-7358 or

Recent News