Communication Leadership Blog

USC Open Data LA initiative promotes public access to government data throughout Los Angeles County

By Elizabeth Krane | July 23, 2014 0

Launched by USC Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) in partnership with the USC Price School of Public Policy, the USC Open Data LA initiative aims to promote transparency and civic engagement in Los Angeles, beginning with a survey to assess the state of publicly available city data in each of L.A. County's 88 cities.

"Open data is a new aspect of journalism in the public interest," said Dana Chinn, CCLP faculty fellow and USC Annenberg project lead. "It's a worldwide movement, but we're going to focus on how open data initiatives can address the unique needs of the greater Los Angeles community."

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Open data is publicly available, easily accessible data that anyone is "free to use, reuse, and redistribute," according to the Open Knowledge Foundation. The open data movement gained momentum in the U.S. after President Obama issued the Open Government Initiative on his first day in office in 2009, encouraging a philosophy of "transparency, public participation, and collaboration."

By increasing collaborations between governments and entrepreneurs, open data may also create significant economic opportunities. A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that "open data can help unlock $3 trillion to $5 trillion in economic value annually across seven sectors."

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Op-Ed by Kirk Johnson: The Iraqi Friends We Abandoned

By CCLP Staff | July 11, 2014 0

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This op-ed by 2014-15 visiting fellow Kirk W. Johnson was originally published in The New York Times.

LOS ANGELES -- "Let's be perfectly coldblooded about it," President Richard M. Nixon mused to Henry A. Kissinger. "South Vietnam is probably never gonna survive anyway." It was August 1972, and Nixon was worried about the inevitable collapse of South Vietnam after American forces withdrew. Mr. Kissinger concurred: "We've got to find some formula that holds the thing together a year or two. If we settle it, say, this October, by January '74 no one will give a damn."

This formula became known as the Decent Interval -- a period of time after a withdrawal that would be long enough for Americans to go from war fatigue to amnesia. Thirty-two months later, when Saigon fell, there was no chance that the American public would countenance military re-engagement. Indeed, congressional concerns over being dragged back into conflict even threatened efforts to address a spiraling refugee crisis.

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The List Project founder Kirk W. Johnson joins CCLP as visiting fellow

By Elizabeth Krane | July 10, 2014 0

YT5K9434.jpgKirk W. Johnson is the founder of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies and the author of To Be a Friend is Fatal: the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind.

The List Project has helped more than 2,000 US-affiliated Iraqis find refuge in America by partnering with eight top law firms to provide pro bono legal assistance, along with thousands of American volunteers that help resettled Iraqis with "everything from retooling resumes to finding furniture." The List Project has been featured on 60 Minutes, This American Life, and documentary film The List.

Prior to the List Project, Johnson served in Iraq with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Baghdad and then Fallujah as the Agency's first coordinator for reconstruction in the war-torn city. He has received fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Wurlitzer Foundation. Prior to his work in Iraq, he conducted research on political Islamism as a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt. Born and raised in West Chicago, he lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his second book.

As the 2014-15 visiting fellow, Johnson's writing and leadership experience will be a welcome addition to CCLP.

Faculty fellow Philip Seib named USC Annenberg Vice Dean

By Elizabeth Krane | July 1, 2014 0

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Faculty fellow Philip Seib has been named the Vice Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, effective July 1. In addition to his role as a Professor of Journalism and Public Diplomacy and a Professor of International Relations, he also served as director of USC's Center on Public Diplomacy.

Seib will use his 30 years of interdisciplinary teaching and research experience to develop more collaborations at Annenberg.

"Among my goals is to make sure that there is more common ground shared by the School of Communication and School of Journalism - that there is a real USC Annenberg presence," said Seib in Annenberg's announcement. "We have a lot of talent, and sometimes people are hesitant to cross lines between the two schools. I'm going to encourage people to do more of that crossing of lines."

Seib has researched the effects of news coverage on foreign policy, studying issues related to conflict and terrorism. His published books include The Al Jazeera Effect, Headline Diplomacy: How News Coverage Affects Foreign Policy, and New Media and the Middle East.

"I look forward to working with Phil in his new role," said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. "I have already come to rely on Phil's good judgment and superior leadership and management skills as part of his past roles here."

Latonero joins Data & Society's inaugural class of fellows

By Elizabeth Krane | June 30, 2014 0

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Research director Mark Latonero has been named to the inaugural class of fellows at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York.

Launched this year and led by pioneering scholar danah boyd, Data & Society aims to "advance the public's understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by a networked society." By hosting events, developing policy frameworks, and creating projects and publicly available research backed by interdisciplinary collaborations, Data & Society addresses social, ethical, legal, and policy issues affected by data-driven technology.

The Institute's fellows will work on "a bunch of thorny and interesting data and society issues," writes boyd. "Over the coming year the group will pursue their own projects, support one another's work, and help to develop the Institute and shape its research agenda." Latonero's research at Data & Society focuses on the intersections between data, development, and human rights.

"This fellowship is a fantastic opportunity to investigate the risks and benefits of data-centric approaches to intractable social and human rights issues," said Latonero. "Data & Society has a strong network of policy-makers, thinkers, and practitioners across academic, private, and public sectors who are all interested in examining the new frontiers of our data-driven society."

Latonero has worked on past collaborations with boyd, including the creation of a set of guidelines, "How to Responsibly Create Technological Interventions to Address the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors." Earlier this year, he spoke about the role of big data in the fight against human trafficking at The Social, Cultural, & Ethical Dimensions of "Big Data," a Data & Society event co-hosted with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and New York University's Information Law Institute.

During his residency in New York, Latonero will continue to lead the USC Annenberg Technology and Trafficking Initiative, first launched at a 2010 in coordination with the U.S. Department of State. Through this Initiative, Latonero spearheaded groundbreaking research on technology's dual role in facilitating and combating human trafficking. Professor Latonero's current projects include the first research project on technology and labor trafficking (supported by Humanity United), addressing sex trafficking of minors online (supported by the U.S. Department of Justice), and evaluating anti-trafficking messages and social media in Indonesia (supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development).

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CCLP's 2011 report authored by Latonero, Human Trafficking Online, was the first in-depth examination of the role of social networking sites and online classifieds in the domestic sex trafficking of minors. The second report, The Rise of Mobile (2012), was the first of its kind to examine the role of mobile technology in both facilitating and combating human trafficking.

Adam Powell

Is the US losing the propaganda war with Russia?

By Adam Powell | June 2, 2014 2

WASHINGTON -- Moscow's propaganda machine has vastly outmatched the U.S., according to speakers here today at the June CCLP Washington Communication Leadership forum.

"Russia has spent the past twenty years building up," said William Stevens, Director of the Ukraine Communications Task Force at the U.S. State Department, while Washington spent two decades dialing back.

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Left to right: WIlliam Stevens, Director of the Ukraine Communications Task Force at the U.S. State Department; Myroslava Gongadze, TV anchor and reporter at Voice of America's Ukrainian Service; and Nenad Pejic, Interim Manager of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The Kremlin's aggressive media campaign is effective across all platforms, including newspapers, social media and television, according to Myroslava Gongadze, TV anchor and reporter at Voice of America's Ukrainian Service.

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Millennials could upend corporate America, says study by senior fellow Morley Winograd

By Elizabeth Krane | May 28, 2014 0

"As Millennials become an increasingly large share of the adult population and gather more and more wealth, the generation's size and unity of belief will cause seismic shifts in the nation's financial sector," writes senior fellow Morley Winograd in a new study he co-authored with Michael Hais. Titled "How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America", the paper was published by The Brookings Institution and featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Drawing from many different surveys and analyses, Winograd and Hais paint a picture of the generational changes that are gradually shaping America's future:

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"By 2020, Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans. It is estimated that by 2025 they will make up as much as 75 percent of the workforce."

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Making college tuition free: Senior fellow Morley Winograd leads national campaign

By Elizabeth Krane | May 27, 2014 0

"It's time to make tuition at our public colleges and universities free and it can be done without increasing the national debt," writes senior fellow Morley Winograd. To make this dream a reality, he founded the nonprofit Redeeming America's Promise (RAP), a national campaign and inter-generational alliance dedicated to making college accessible to all Americans.

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The RAP website recounts how the organization began:

"RAP evolved from discussions that started in in 2013 among a group of former elected officials and policy experts, who wanted to make one more contribution to America's future in their retirement years. As we were coming of age, we were forcefully reminded by John F. Kennedy that the responsibility of being born into such a privileged period is a requirement to give back and we saw RAP as perhaps our last, best chance to respond to his call."

"We believe that it is time for older Americans to provide younger generations with many of the same possibilities we enjoyed by fundamentally reforming our nation's system for financing higher education. The growing divide between family income and higher education cost increases have made the current system unworkable. Without fundamental changes the problems will even get worse."

In fact, the Pew Research Center has found that "households headed by a young, college-educated adult without any student debt obligations have about seven times the typical net worth ($64,700) of households headed by a young, college-educated adult with student debt ($8,700)."

In a video about the economics of higher education, Winograd says, "It is intolerable to burden a generation with the responsibility to self-finance the education that not only they need to be successful, but that society needs to be successful. We've never done that in our past."

Geneva Overholser: An Early Read on Baquet as New York Times Leader

By CCLP Staff | May 27, 2014 0

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This guest post was written by senior fellow Geneva Overholser. Read her personal blog at GenevaOverholser.com.

In the swirl of the Jill Abramson firing, a couple of things being said about the new executive editor, Dean Baquet, didn't sync with my impression of him. I looked back at this video of a forum I hosted at USC Annenberg with Baquet when he had just become managing editor of The New York Times, and saw why.

What I had found most worrisome was Glenn Greenwald's charge that Baquet has "a really disturbing history of practicing this form of journalism that is incredibly subservient to the American national security state." When I looked back at the video of Baquet at the USC Director's Forum on Oct. 27, 2011, I was struck by the fact that he had opened the session with an impassioned call for national-security reporting.

He talked about a call he got, when he was executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, from George Tenet, then director of the CIA. Tenet asked him to hold a story about the CIA, which was spying on the Iranian community in the U.S. Baquet told us that he held the story for a day so as to be able to review it, then called Tenet back and said he'd be running it.

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Informal diplomacy can bring results, Cowan explains at Central European University in Budapest

By Elizabeth Krane | May 23, 2014 0

CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan gave a talk at Central European University in Budapest on May 21 to discuss the famous "shirt-sleeves" summit at Sunnylands between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, highlighting the diplomatic power of such informal meetings.

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Photo by CEU/Daniel Vegel.

"Although the meeting between Obama and Jinping was not official, they did come to an important environmental agreement to phase out harmful hydrofluorocarbons (greenhouse gases)," reports CEU.

"There's something about the importance of this kind of informal meeting and maybe we don't do enough of it," said Cowan. "It's the 'gift of time' - to have the time and space to do things differently."

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