Shorenstein Fellows Discuss Their Work on Varied Media Topics

May 3, 2005
Rob Meyer

Spring semester fellows at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy came together Tuesday at the Kennedy School to share their research and discuss a wide range of issues important in today’s constantly changing media landscape.
Each fellow spent their time in Cambridge studying media-related topics of personal interest.
David Rohde, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, looked at American efforts to introduce free media to Muslim countries to counter the reporting on Al Jazeera. He found that those efforts in Afghanistan were largely successful, because the State Department funded media and then allowed them to run independently.
Iraq, however, was a different story. Early results were dismal, when the Defense Department took the lead in shaping the new media. Iraqis could sense the hand of the U.S. government. “They are learning and adjusting,” Rohde said.
As the opinion editor at the Sydney Morning Herald, Julia Baird examined the globalization of American opinion by way of op-ed articles run by newspapers throughout the world. More U.S. voices were heard following 9/11 and during the lead up to the war in Iraq, she discovered, and that conservative think tanks were more successful at having op-eds picked up around the world than liberal groups.
Other fellows reported on their work.
Richard Schultz, a professor of political science at McGill University in Montreal, focused on the issue of media ownership diversity and how to define and measure it, finding that it is not a simple subject to get a handle on. “Diversity is a highly complex phenomenon,” he said.
Walter Shapiro, a former USA Today columnist, studied the diminished role of “shoe-leather” political columnists, colorful scribes who actually traveled, talked to people, and then brought those ideas and opinions to the public.
Doug Ahlers, an expert in interactive marketing and advertising, studied traditional advertising versus internet advertising. He found that the predicted movement of ad dollars away from traditional outlets (television, print) in favor of online markets to be overstated. Revenues from advertising on television and print are still strong and are expected to grow.
Hans Mathias Kepplinger, a professor of communications at the University of Mainz in Germany talked about how the mass media influences politicians and how politicians influence the mass media.
The event was moderated by Alex Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.

Shorenstein Fellows image

Walter Shapiro, Richard Schultz, Doug Ahlers, Julia Baird, Hans Mathias Kepplinger


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