Communication Leadership Blog

Adam Powell

US launches new initiatives to combat Russian information "weaponization"

By Adam Powell | December 2, 2014 0

WASHINGTON - New initiatives by U.S. international broadcasting to counter Russian propaganda were the focus of this month's CCLP Washington Communication Leadership forum here yesterday.

Jeffrey Trimble, Deputy Director of the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, said the innovations are in response to what he called Russia's "weaponization" of international news and information.


Left to right: Jeffrey N. Trimble, Deputy Director of the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau; Alen Mlatisuma, Internet Managing Editor, Voice of America Eurasia Divisision; and William Harrison Courtney, former U.S. ambassador and Executive Director, RAND Business Leaders Forum.

One of the new ventures described by Trimble is "Current Time," a new 30-minute daily television newscast co-anchored in Washington and Prague. The first ever co-production of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Trimble said it was the suggestion of Richard Stengel, the new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

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CCLP's Geoffrey Baum elected president of California Community Colleges Board of Governors

By Elizabeth Krane | November 18, 2014 0

On Monday, November 17, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors elected CCLP's managing director Geoffrey Baum to serve as president in 2015. In addition to working at CCLP and the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, Baum has served on the California Community Colleges Board of Governors since 2008, most recently as vice president.

Thumbnail image for baum.jpg"These are both challenging times and an era of unlimited possibility for the California Community Colleges and their vital mission to achieve success, increase access, and help prepare each student for the workforce in our global economy," said Baum.

"It is a tremendous honor to be elected president of the Board of Governors. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and the chancellor, in partnership with the governor and the Legislature, to keep this outstanding system at the forefront of public higher education in the country."

Cecilia V. Estolano, co-founder of a development consulting firm, was elected to serve as the next vice president of the Board of Governors.

"I am privileged to work alongside a group of individuals whose top concern is supporting the students, faculty, staff, and administrators," said Estolano. "The California Community
Colleges is working to improve California's economic fortunes and taking bold steps to provide more and more Californians with higher education."

As the largest system of higher education in the U.S., the California Community Colleges serve over two million students each year at 112 colleges across 72 districts. In his new role as president, Baum will work with the Board of Governors to continue to empower the community colleges through leadership, advocacy and support.

The complete press release is available through the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.

New Report: Lessons Learned from the Get Mobile Forum on Mobile Technology for Community Engagement

By CCLP Staff | November 3, 2014 0

getmobileforum-7-150x150.jpegThis is a blog post by Beatriz Solis, Program Director at The California Endowment Healthy Communities (South Region), and Geoffrey Cowan, Director of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

At the 2014 Get Mobile Forum, we invited technology leaders and local community organizers to learn from each other, exploring how organizations can use mobile technology in their efforts to engage and empower the communities of Los Angeles. Today we're excited to announce the release of our report: Lessons Learned From the Get Mobile Forum on Mobile Technology for Community Engagement.


Download the report:

A lack of engagement is a serious issue in Los Angeles. The LA2050 project reports that compared to the rest of the US, "Angelenos are less likely to be involved in groups, less likely to engage in organizational activism, less likely to vote" and even less trusting of others. In order to improve the health and well-being of our communities, it's critical that community members' voices can be heard, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or which neighborhood they live in. Technology has the power to amplify their voices, but only if implemented strategically.

"The problem is not a lack of innovation. The problem is a lack of scaling something up when we find something that works." -- Dr. Robert Ross

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Open Data LA workshop connects community leaders and city officials

By Elizabeth Krane | October 28, 2014 0

City governments around the world have started to release public data sets (called "open data") that can help communities and businesses address issues in areas such as transportation, healthcare, and economic development. CCLP's Open Data LA team partnered with the City of Pasadena to host a workshop on October 25 for city officials, application developers, thought leaders, and interested citizens to form new connections and discuss the future of open data.


Titled Beyond Hackathons: What's Next for Open Data in Pasadena?, the workshop focused on several discussion questions, including:

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Adam Powell

'Journalism alone' not enough to combat ISIS media messages

By Adam Powell | October 7, 2014 0

WASHINGTON - The propaganda spread by ISIS is more powerful and sophisticated than Al Qaeda's media messages of just a few years ago.  So now, "journalism alone" is not sufficient for the U.S. to combat the Islamic state's media campaign.

That was the message from two U.S. international broadcasting executives, Shameem Rassam, Executive Producer of Alhurra Iraq, and Davin Hutchins, Director of Digital Content for the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, at Monday's CCLP Communication Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

Don Bishop w panelists.JPG

Left to right: Shameem Rassam, Davin Hutchins, and Donald Bishop, President of the Public Diplomacy Council.

Where Al Qaeda relied on Al Jazeera and other media outlets to spread its message, according to Hutchins, ISIS now broadcasts its messages directly, using social networks. And instead of Al Qaeda's crudely produced videos featuring Osama bin Laden, Hutchins noted ISIS has slick, professional productions that focus on "crimes, exploits [and] brutality."

Now, according to Hutchins, the U.S. must start with solid journalism, reporting on "root causes of the ISIS phenomenon among youth" including unemployment, poor education, minority rights, sectarianism and "religious literalism."

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Adam Clayton Powell III honored at Africa's largest journalism conference

By Elizabeth Krane | September 16, 2014 0

Senior fellow Adam Clayton Powell III, who leads CCLP's new initiative on mobile phones as a platform for public service, was named a Highway Africa Fellow at the 2014 Highway Africa Conference at Rhodes University's School of Journalism and Media Studies in Grahamstown, South Africa.


The 2014 Highway Africa Fellows, left to right: Joe Alfers, Mathatha Tsedu, Cheriff Moumina Sy, CCLP senior fellow Adam Clayton Powell III, Elizabeth Barratt, Jovial Rantao, and Amina Frense.

In addition to being the only American to receive the award, Powell also holds the record for attendance; he has presented at 17 of the 18 annual Highway Africa Conference meetings, attending more conferences than even the conference organizers themselves.

He helped start the Highway Africa Conference in 1997 with its founder Guy Berger, who served as the head of Rhodes University's School of Journalism & Media Studies and, before moving to Rhodes, edited one of South Africa's four anti-apartheid newspapers.

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International journalists discuss global conflicts, propaganda, and online media at CCLP forum

By Elizabeth Krane | September 12, 2014 0

Journalists from Germany and Russia joined USC Annenberg students, faculty and special guests to share their first hand accounts of the physical dangers and moral dilemmas of reporting on international conflicts like the war in Ukraine at Covering Global Conflict, the first in a series organized by USC Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) and School of Journalism, along with the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP).


More than 100 students, journalists, and Pacific Council members attended the forum, which was among the first special events held in USC's new Wallis Annenberg Hall. The conversation was moderated by CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan and introduced by Willow Bay, director of USC Annenberg's School of Journalism.

"Journalists have become a target--not only one of several targets in the warzone, but almost one of their favorite targets," said Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of the popular German news site and a war reporter who has covered Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

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Adam Powell

CCLP cell phone initiative discussed at Africa conference

By Adam Powell | September 9, 2014 0

GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa - A CCLP initiative to define minimum capabilities of cell phone handsets for health care, public safety and other public services was a focus of discussion at a forum here at Rhodes University on Sunday.

"What a good question!" said Daudi Khamadi Were, Innovation Coordinator at Making All Voices Count, part of Kenya's global Ushahidi group. Were said that cell phone service for illiterate users should be a key issue.

"Mobiles need to be voice-enabled for those who cannot type as fast," agreed Bomasanto Ndulovu, Strategic Executive Director for South Africa's capital city, Tshwane (still known as Pretoria in much of the world).


The audience at the Rhodes University forum takes notes during a discussion on mobile technology.

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Covering Global Conflict: New series of conversations hosted by CCLP and the Pacific Council on International Policy

By Elizabeth Krane | September 5, 2014 0

USC Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) and School of Journalism, along with the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP), are launching a new public series, Covering Global Conflict, which will examine differences in how international media are covering major flashpoints around the world.


"These conversations offer exciting and important opportunities to understand how media in various countries see and interpret events through their own distinctive prism," said Geoffrey Cowan, CCLP director and co-chair of the series. "At USC we emphasize the importance of discussing not only how America sees the world, but how the world is seeing America."

The first conversation, to be held Tuesday, September 9, will focus on the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and the war in Ukraine, featuring journalists from the front lines of global conflict.

Featured speakers include Professor Robert English, an expert on the politics of Russia and director of the USC School of International Relations; Lukas Hermsmeier, a reporter for the German newspaper BILD, who was shot with a rubber bullet and arrested while covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri; and Julian Reichelt, editor in chief of the popular German news site, who has worked as a war reporter in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

Reichelt said that if there's one take-away he hopes the journalists and students attending the September 9 conversation will remember, it's this: "[Q]uestion everything - there is no universal truth. Learn to separate facts from propaganda; and most importantly, don't fall for the powerful and their spin. Question why they grant you access. Don't confuse access in the service of spin with research."

The discussion will be led by CCLP visiting fellow Florian von Heintze, deputy editor in chief of BILD. Von Heintze agreed with Reichelt that verifying information is one of the biggest challenges in reporting on global conflicts: "What is fact, what is propaganda, and how do you interpret the big grey zone in between?"

Journalists explored this issue at one of CCLP's Washington D.C. forums, discussing the Russian propaganda surrounding the protests in Kiev, Ukraine. Bringing the discussion to USC will offer students and the general public unique insights into the issues facing journalists today.

"I look forward to learning more about how international media outside Germany is covering global conflicts - in print, online and on social media platforms," said von Heintze.

Covering Global Conflict is co-chaired by Geoffrey Cowan, CCLP director and USC University Professor, Willow Bay, director of USC Annenberg's School of Journalism, Jerrold Green, PCIP president & CEO, and Mickey Kantor, CCLP and PCIP board co-chairman.

Visiting fellow Florian von Heintze: How Germany's largest news site is commenting on the death of James Foley

By CCLP Staff | August 22, 2014 0

Thumbnail image for Florian von Heintze.jpgVisiting fellow Florian von Heintze, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of BILD, reflects on the death of James Foley and shares the words of Julian Reichelt,'s Editor-in-Chief.

64 journalists, media assistants and bloggers were killed this year so far on their job, according to the German association "Reporter ohne Grenzen" (Reporters Without Borders) -- more than ever since its first published report in 1995. US reporter James Foley (40) was the 10th deadly victim in Syria this year. Almost 30 journalists have been killed there since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. Julian Reichelt (34) has been covering wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria for years. He met James Foley occasionally on the job and always admired him for his courage, his curiosity, and his storytelling. Last year Reichelt was named Editor-in-Chief of Germany's leading news website ( with 300 million page impressions monthly. He is based in Berlin. Here is what he wrote about Foley's death.
-- Florian von Heintze


Photo from

Below is the commentary published today by Julian Reichelt, Editor-in-chief of

The death of our colleague James Foley, who was beheaded by terrorists, leaves us horrified and aghast. The way he had to die is sickening us.

I did not know him very well; we were not friends, but I knew him well enough to imagine what might have been important for him to say. Before him, hundreds of Syrians and Iraqis were murdered the way he was. Scornfully, barbarically. Helplessly, powerlessly facing death.

James Foley lived to report about these people: the defenseless, the overpowered, the nameless. It would have been important to him to remember them, too -- all those forgotten souls that lie in the mass graves of Syria and Iraq.

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