Travelogue: Annenberg Students in São Paulo


By Neftalie Williams (MPD ’14 )

Sao-Paulo-2Earlier this year, the USC Annenberg Master’s of Public Diplomacy program conducted a research trip to São Paulo, Brazil to research how public diplomacy is integrated into various organizations within that nation. While there, I took time to chronicle some of the famously sprawling city’s more intimate streetscapes.

The photo, above, of the young man seated captures a quiet moment of solitude in a small bakery in São Paulo on a street called Rua Fradique. This photo was taken moments after the man exchanged hugs and kisses with the owner of the café.

Sao-PauloThe larger photo is an insider’s view of “Beco de Batman,” or “Batman Alley,” in Vila Magdelena, a beautiful, modern section of São Paulo. Originally made famous by a graffiti-rendered image of Batman by an unknown artist, this series of alleyways is now home to works by many of Brazil’s greatest graffiti artists, including the image in red by seminal artist, Speto.

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Sunnylands, the President’s Second Home for Diplomacy


By Proffessor Geoffrey Cowan*


Walter and Leonore Annenberg wanted Sunnylands, their spectacular 200-acre desert estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to become the “Camp David of the West”—a place where Presidents would bring world leaders together to promote peace and facilitate international agreements.

Last year Sunnylands hosted President Obama and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China in the historic “shirtsleeves summit” that helped them to forge a personal relationship and led to an historic agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. (See photo.)

Earlier this year, Sunnylands again hosted the President, this time for a meeting on the Syrian refugee crisis with King Abdullah II of Jordan.


In creating Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, Walter and Leonore Annenberg also specifically encouraged it to work with the Annenberg Schools at USC and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to hosting world leaders, hopefully it will become a part of the life of students and faculty who want to visit another great Annenberg venue and to create important meetings designed to make a major impact on the world.

With the virtue of total privacy in an extraordinary setting that includes a nine-hole golf course and 11 lakes, Sunnylands offers leaders an exceptional place to pause, reflect, build meaningful connections and to focus on major challenges.

*Cowan is also Director of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and President of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

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USC Students, Faculty, Neighbors Sound Off on #MySouthLA

Journalists and community activists from around Los Angeles came together last night to discuss the role of USC in the ever-changing South L.A. area.

USC Vision and Voices hosted “Voices of South L.A.: Civic Action and Community Voice” in the Annenberg Auditorium Thursday evening, drawing USC students, faculty and community members for the dynamic discussion.

Panelists included journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan; Francisco Ortega of the L.A. Human Relations Commission; Community Coalition’s Alberto Retana; and journalist Sahra Sulaiman.

Annenberg faculty members Alison Trope, Robeson Taj Frazier and George Villanueva contributed to organizing the discussion series. 

Thursday’s event is the first in a three-part series about how USC’s expansion is affecting residents in South L.A., and the leadership, initiatives and progress currently underway in the area.

Check out what attendees has to say about #MySouthLA:

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Q&A: Political Analysis and Media with Rebecca Black Donatelli


Online pioneer R. Rebecca “Becki” Black Donatelli is a USC alumna and president of Campaign Solutions/Connell Donatelli. She served as the chief Internet consultant to both of Senator John McCain’s presidential races, and was the first person to raise political money on the Internet. We caught up with Donatelli during a recent hard-hat tour she took of Wallis Annenberg Hall.

USC ANNENBERG: Can you please share with us how you embody the Trojan Family?

becki-donatelliR. REBECCA “BECKI” BLACK DONATELLI: My father was a graduate of USC. My stepfather was a graduate of USC. I graduated from USC. My daughter Elizabeth graduated from USC in 2004. So it’s a straight line, along with two uncles and three cousins, so you could say this is the family school. Elizabeth is entering her 10th year as an on-air reporter, this is her third market, and she credits it all to the actual hands-on work that she did here as an undergraduate. She took an ethics in journalism class here at Annenberg that made a big impact.

USC ANNENBERG: You have been credited with being the disruptor of an industry.

DONATELLI: We like to think we’re innovators—although I love your term, ‘The Disruptor.’ I think I might have to adopt that. We’re constantly looking at trends, and what’s new, and trying to innovate and keep up with things or be a step ahead. We have taken a great pride in being the first to do things, because at my age, I’m not afraid anymore of taking chances. If it doesn’t work you put it aside and do something else.



USC ANNENBERG: Was it hard to convince campaigns, at a national level or local level, to do things differently; to use online techniques?

DONATELLI: It is still hard. On our [Republican] side of the aisle, it’s a little bit harder than the other guys [Democrats], because President Obama actually won utilizing what we do for a living. But any time there is change, it’s difficult. So we are constantly evangelizing. I’d like to say everybody’s now running to our doors and saying, ‘Gee, I want to invest all of my media money in online advertising.’ It’s not the case, but it is changing, especially because of the people who went to Annenberg 10-15 years ago are now moving into leadership opportunities, and understanding the convergence of media and data and digital, and that it’s not all about buying TV spots anymore. Thank you, Annenberg!

USC ANNENBERG: Why did you establish the R. Rebecca Donatelli Expert-in-Residence in Political Analysis and Media program, which will bring leading political analysis and media technology experts to campus to share their perceptions and knowledge with our students and faculty?

DONATELLI: Because I love USC. I think it’s the finest university in the country. It has afforded me with the tools to go forth in life and succeed. That’s first. Second, the idea of working with young people is exciting. Plus, there’s a connection to Annenberg through Elizabeth. And, you’ve got an amazing Dean [Ernest J. Wilson III], whom I just connected with, and I’m overwhelmed by his willingness to enlarge the footprint here, and consider new things.

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Alumni Notes: Where Are They Now?


News and notes as reported by our esteemed graduates. From books published to awards won, here’s a sampling of what our alumni are up to.

Bill Owen (B.A. Telecommunications ’53) is the author of “Dropping Names: 60 Plus Years of Broadcasting Memories,” tracing his career from KUSC-FM to his 30 years at ABC New York. He is also the author of other books, such as “All Those Things My Teacher Never Told Me,” “The Over 60 Trivia Book,” “Runners-up, Bridesmaids, and Second Bananas,” as well as co-author of the first encyclopedia of radio programs, “The Big Broadcast.”


Dennis Neil Jones

Dennis Neil Jones (B.A. Public Relations ’76, M.P.A. ’78) was named a 2014 Southern California Super Lawyer by Law & Politics for his expertise in insurance law. This is the seventh year he has been named to this prestigious list.

Mark Kariya (B.A. Journalism ’78) was named the recipient of The American Motorcyclist Association’s 2013 Media Award at the annual AMA Championship Banquet in Columbus, Ohio on January 18.

Mike Huckman (B.A. Broadcast Journalism ’83), award-winning journalist and former CNBC Life Sciences Reporter, was appointed chief strategist at Pure Communications, Inc.

Kevin Kirk (B.A. Communication Arts & Sciences ’83) was recently promoted to Director of Freestyle Sales for the Western United States by The Coca-Cola Company.

Steven Travers (B.A. Communication Arts & Sciences ’83) has published a new book titled, “The Duke, The Longhorns, and Chairman Mao: John Wayne’s Political Odyssey.”

Ellen Plotkin-Mulholland

Ellen Plotkin Mulholland

Ellen Plotkin Mulholland (B.A. Print Journalism & English ’85) recently published a young adult novel called, “Birds on a Wire,” which follows 72 hours in the lives of three best friends before they embark on their senior year of high school. Read more about Ellen at

James Davenport (B.A. Communication Arts & Sciences ’90) was recently inducted into the St. Francis High School Athletic Hall of Fame for Baseball; he was a member of the Trojan Baseball team from ’88 to ’89. He is currently the Director of Business Development, Hosting & Cloud, at AT&T.

David Sweet (M.A. Print Journalism ’90) was named Editorial Coordinator of three magazines at JWC Media outside of Chicago.

Cathy L. Hue (B.A. Broadcast Journalism ’00), formerly Cathy Truong, is segment producer on a brand new docu-series for the E! Network, “Society X with Laura Ling.” The pilot episode on Designer Drugs aired in the fall. Previously, Hue has produced for award-winning shows including “SoCal Connected” (KCET), Current TV and Channel One Network. She is a freelance journalist and founder of Our Story Productions.

Bich Ngoc Cao (B.A. Print Journalism & Political Science ’04), digital marketing director at Harvest Records, was appointed to the Board of Library Commissioners by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and serves as the board’s vice president.

Erin Coscarelli (B.A. Broadcast Journalism ’06) is working as an on-air anchor and sports reporter for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, an NBC Regional Network.

Lindsay Miller (B.A. Print Journalism ’06) is the creator and host of PopSugar’s new interview series, “In Her World,” which showcases inspiring women and the personal passions behind their success stories.

Clint Schaff (M.A. Communication Management ’07) recently became the U.S. General Manager of Dare, a global creative digital agency and was also named a 2014 New Leaders Council Fellow.

Breanna M. Cardwell (B.A. Journalism and Communications ’08) was named Communications Officer at The California Wellness Foundation. Breanna received her MPPA from California Lutheran University.

Anastasia Alen (B.A. Communication ’10) was sworn into the California State Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Dec. 4, 2013.

Claire Spera

Claire Spera

Claire Spera (M.A. Specialized Journalism ’10) was recently named publicity coordinator for the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music, where her first project was organizing publicity for the 10-day Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists, which came to North America for the first time in its 30-year history. She continues to write dance and theater reviews for Austin’s daily paper, the Austin American-Statesman, and is a contributing writer for Arts + Culture Texas Magazine.

Katharine Azar (MPD ’10) married Behtash Azar (Architecture ’05) in Newport Beach, Calif.  In addition, Kate is now an Account Executive at issue advocacy firm, Griffin|Schein.

Kamala Kirk (B.A. Communication ’11) recently joined E! Entertainment as Writer/Editor for E! Shows.


Susana Bautista

Susana Bautista (PH.D ’12) is the author of a new book, “Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture”—see excerpt below, Bautista has also been named the interim deputy director of the USC Pacific Asia Museum.

Krista Daly (M.A. Specialized Journalism ’13) is a staff writer for the Imperial Valley Press in El Centro, Calif. As a county reporter, her wide-ranging beat takes her from government to health to renewable energy to community events.

Have news to share, questions to ask, regarding our alumni? Visit:

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Is Downtown L.A.’s Figueroa Corridor the Next Silicon Valley?


By Professor François Bar and John Seely Brown

Here are suggested clusters around the Figueroa Corridor. [Open map.] (François Bar)

Suggested clusters around the Figueroa Corridor in an open map by François Bar and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.

A remarkable transformation is taking place in the heart of Los Angeles. Over the last 10 years, Downtown L.A. became vibrant as it built ties to the south, reaching USC and Exposition Park.

Now, from the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the California Science Center, a dynamic innovation corridor is just beginning to flourish, receiving a boost in May as the Los Angeles City Planning and Land Use Committee formally adopted the MyFigueroa project, allowing the area on and around that well-known street to become inclusive and more welcoming to pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists and drivers. Construction is slated to begin at the end of 2014 and finish up by end 2015.

At USC Annenberg we’ve long been advocating for such a transformation, with Annenberg’s Dean Ernest J. Wilson III writing of the power of an interrelated “quad” of sectors: public, private, civil, and academic. Meanwhile, our faculty’s research demonstrates that innovation thrives on clusters: interconnected businesses, creativity across sectors and fluid jobs.

The proposed innovation corridor taps a rich ecology of experimental media, arts and technology start-ups, education and civic institutions that already surround the area, with deep ties to the diverse communities of Los Angeles. All this innovation cluster needs now are the connections that facilitate the free flow of people and ideas. There are too few congenial places along Figueroa for innovators to meet informally, run into one another and have serendipitous conversations that spark new ideas and projects. Innovation is about flow—about informal encounters rather than formal meetings, when people can connect unexpectedly.

This has the potential to be deeply transformative for Los Angeles. As Figueroa begins to feel less like a freeway and more like a boulevard, it will foster a network of tightly woven institutions that welcome ideas—and export bold ideas to the world. From here on, Figueroa will serve as a vital artery along which Los Angeles’ innovative energies can flow freely.

*Based on an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times

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#ANNHallPass Quoted: Wallis Annenberg Hall in the Media

#ANNHallPass, Wallis Annenberg Hall Grand Opening, October 1, 2014At USC Annenberg, we Quoted Bannerdon’t just cover the news, we make it. In this special edition of “Quoted” we’ve gathered a selection of news stories on the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, including coverage of the grand opening event on October 1.

KPCC: USC opens new $60-million J-school building

willow-bay-kpccKPCC’s Take Two echoed the themes of the Grand Opening by anchoring their coverage in an in-depth conversation on the future of the news. Hosts spoke with Journalism School Director Willow Bay on October 2 about our moment’s unique media challenges and possibilities.

Bay said the generation of journalists to be trained at Wallis Annenberg Hall have “never had more tools to create gorgeous-looking, deeply engaging, powerful news reporting.”

“It is certainly true that there have been profound changes, we’re living through an era of profound technology-driven change in this business, much of it disruptive; but I can’t help but see opportunity,” Bay said.

Local Broadcast News Coverage of Building’s Opening

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.46.37 AM

The building’s opening was covered by CBS News Los Angeles affiliate KCAL-TV (VIDEO). They quoted USC Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni’s benediction, where he said: “It is right here, at Wallis Annenberg Hall, that the ancient craft of storytelling will converge with digital media.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.56.44 PM

CW News Los Angeles affiliate KTLA-TV (VIDEO) also covered the event, and called the building a technological marvel whose opening had “all the fanfare of a USC football game.”

Los Angeles’ independent broadcaster KSCI / LA18 (VIDEO), which broadcasts local news in Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese and Korean to Southern California’s over 2.5MM Asian American residents, was also present for the Grand Opening event.

LA Curbed: Take a Look Inside USC’s Flashy New Media Building

Wallis Annenberg Hall Broadcast ControlAlong with a series of images from USC Annenberg’s Flickr page and a video on the school’s new building, LA Curbed noted “all the bells and whistles” of the new Wallis Annenberg Hall. Specifically highlighted were:

  • the 20,000-square-foot media center with a newsroom
  • studios for “digital, broadcast and radio and direct-to-Web vodcast production”
  • more than $8-million worth of technology
  • four-story atrium
  • a Greek-style assembly forum
  • a 148-seat auditorium
  • the cafe

Julie Chen Visits USC Annenberg

Earlier this semester, Entertainment Tonight featured a lecture by USC alumna Julie Chen of CBS’ “The Talk,” who was Wallis Annenberg Hall’s first official guest speaker on August 26. The Huffington Post also covered the talk.

Alum Julie Chen speaks to students in Wallis Annenberg Hall on Tuesday, August 26.

Alum Julie Chen speaks to students in Wallis Annenberg Hall on Tuesday, August 26.

Eyewitness News: Reporter and USC Annenberg Alumnus Visits Building

At the beginning August, ABC 7 Eyewitness News aired a segment (VIDEO) on Wallis Annenberg Hall’s construction featuring Eyewitness News Reporter and Annenberg alumnus Elex Michaelson’s visit to the Hall on its final media day.


Video: Perhaps the most innovative part of the new #USC #Annenberg School is this do it yourself studio. It rotates to allow for different backgrounds. Users can control the cameras, video feeds, graphics, TelePrompTer all by themselves while broadcasting their own show.

View on Instagram

PBS MediaShift: How Much Does Physical Space Matter in Journalism Education?

PBS MediaShift’s special report on Wallis Annenberg Hall highlights the new space and it’s impact on learning.

“The building itself offers opportunities for learning in formal and informal settings,” Journalism School Director Willow Bay said. One such setting is the Media Center, where “all the Annenberg news organizations — print, online, radio and television — gather to create, collaborate and innovate.”

Voice of America: Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before, Voice of America points out, and USC Annenberg is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom in the new Wallis Annenberg Hall.

MyNewLA: USC to Christen $59.3 Million Journalism, Communications Building quotes Dean Wilson and touts the new building as a technological marvel that will “house high-tech classrooms, collaborative meeting areas and a state-of-the-art student newsroom focusing on innovative media technologies.”

The Daily Trojan: Wallis Annenberg Hall Open for Fall Classes

The Daily Trojan on Wallis Annenberg Hall: “The central features of the building is called the forum, described as, ‘a four-story atrium with skylight, open seating and media display tower,’ which will serve as the lobby for the building.”

Medzerian: New campus digs at USC leave room for professional uncertainty

David Medzerian, senior editor of the Los Angeles Register and an Instructor in our Journalism school, meditates on the first days of a new academic year and shares first impressions of the new building: “At its heart is the student media center, nicer than any newsroom the students will ever work in after graduation.”

For more information about Wallis Annenberg Hall, including details of the Grand Opening on October 1, visit our #ANNHallPass story collection.

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Wallis Annenberg Hall’s Grand Opening Became a Trending Topic on Twitter

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