2015 Selden Ring Award honorees discuss investigative Miami Herald project


Two Miami Herald reporters, who examined six years worth of child deaths in the state of Florida, were honored with the 2015 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting for a project that married the rigors of investigative reporting and the grace of narrative storytelling on April 10.


The 2015 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.

About 60 audience members were in attendance in Wallis Annenberg Hall as reporters Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch discussed their experiences writing “Innocents Lost” — a chronicle of 477 deaths of children whose families had been known by Florida child welfare authorities. The project drew on records from the state Department of Children and Families, other state agencies and law enforcement — as well as interviews with police, prosecutors, teachers, doctors, relatives, family friends, child welfare administrators, children’s advocates, social workers, judges and others. The Herald filed three lawsuits, two of them successful, in their pursuit of the records.

The $35,000 annual Selden Ring Award, which has been presented for the past 26 years by the School of Journalism at USC Annenberg, honors the year’s outstanding work in investigative journalism that led to direct results.

“The series promoted sweeping reforms that bolstered child protections,” Willow Bay, director of the School of Journalism School at USC Annenberg, said. “Well, without question your work gained the attention of the state’s lawmakers and led to the most significant overhaul of the child welfare laws in the state’s history, including a revised policy that explicitly put the welfare of children first along with two criminal indictments…”

Besides profiles on every child, the “Innocents Lost” project includes a searchable database of the children — now 534 of them — who have died of abuse or neglect since Jan. 1, 2008.

The 2015 Selden Ring panel included: Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times; Marc Duvoisin, managing editor of the Los Angeles Times; Robin Fields, managing editor of ProPublica; Brant Houston, professor and Knight Chair of Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Media; Mark Katches, editor of The Oregonian and vice president of Oregonian Media Group; Kevin Merida, managing editor of The Washington Post; and Megan Twohey, a reporter at Reuters.


Marc Duvoisin, Los Angeles Times managing editor; Cindy Miscikowski, CEO of the Ring Group; Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller; Miami Herald reporter Audra D.S. Burch and Willow Bay, director of the Journalism School at USC Annenberg, pose with the 2015 Selden Ring Award.

“The great thing about the Selden Ring Awards is that there’s a reminder there is great investigative reporting all over the country,” Baquet said in a pre-recorded video played at the event. “The best, most fun investigative reporting is local and regional investigative reporting, which this prize always reminds me of how much good stuff there is.”

Early on in the project, both reporters said they wanted to do something different by telling the stories of each child’s abbreviated life.

“The idea, again and again and again, was we wanted to create these layered portraits and we wanted to make sure every single one of these children, whether it was a very small, profound, or a very large one [case], that we had, in some way, marked their lives,” Burch said.

In order to do that, they crisscrossed the state to try to find and talk to as many families as they could.

“That required us to visit cemeteries, visit prisons, required us to pore through autopsies and medical examiner’s reports and also made sure to get pictures of each of these children because we knew that pictures resonate with readers,” Burch said.

She and Marbin Miller included the tiniest details about the children, such as what type of pajamas one child liked to sleep in or how another child wanted to be a princess when she grew up.

Both reporters also talked about the variety of challenges they faced during the series. A daunting test was speaking to relatives, who in some cases, could be asked to indict their very own family members by telling the story about a daughter, son, brother or sister who had allowed a child die to abuse or neglect, Burch said.

During the event, three USC Annenberg student journalists were able to ask the Miami Herald reporters questions. Will Federman, editor-in-chief of Neon Tommy, asked how Burch and Marbin Miller prevented the devastating material from consuming them.

Burch said she and Marbin Miller handled the range of emotions associated with telling the story of the children differently.

“One thing [Carol] would tell me over and over is stay in the moment. There were moments I was terribly overwhelmed, she will tell you I would sit at my desk and sob and sob and sob,” Burch said. “In all that emotion I knew we had to tell this story and if we don’t tell it, it won’t get told.”

Toward the end of the speech, Burch and Marbin Miller doled out advice to the USC Annenberg students after Max Schwartz, who works at USC Annenberg Radio News and is also the civic center bureau chief for Annenberg Media Center, asked how worried they were about getting all the details right and being 100 percent accurate about the descriptions of each case during the project.

With regards to fact checking and the consciousness of reporting, Marbin Miller said she had never worked with anyone like Burch who pored over the facts and accuracy like she did in the project.


Miami Herald reporters Carol Marbin Miller and Audra Burch, winners of USC Annenberg’s 2015 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, discuss “Innocents Lost.”

“For the students in the room, you have to do that when you think your story is done and you’re madly in love with it and every turn of phrase just makes you tingle, go back and do it all over again,” Marbin Miller said.

The Miami Herald’s project had an immediate, sweeping effect. Within three months of its launch, Florida lawmakers unanimously passed legislation that affected almost every facet of child protection policy. The law also assigned almost $50 million in additional funds for child protection, and Gov. Rick Scott has proposed allocating another $80 million next year.

USC Annenberg students who attended the event said they learned a lot from the two Miami Herald reporters.

Tanya Mardirossian, a USC Annenberg junior majoring in print and digital journalism, said she’s interested in going into the entertainment field as a journalist, where there are often investigative stories to cover.

“It’s always useful to hear other peoples’ stories just because as a student … I think you can learn from other peoples’ tactics and strategies and their tips are welcome,” Mardirossian said.

The Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting was established in 1989 by the late Selden Ring, a Southern California business leader and philanthropist. He established the award to honor journalists whose investigative reporting informed the public about major problems or corruption in society and yielded concrete results. The award continues in his name thanks to the generous support of the Ring Foundation.

Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting: A Look Back

The Miami Herald’s “Innocents Lost” Project Wins USC Annenberg’s 2015 Selden Ring Award

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Yogi Roth: The Coach in Front of the Camera


Yogi Roth_photo

Photo Credit: Evolution of Style

It started as a concept on a whiteboard in Pete Carroll’s office, but “Win Forever” has gone far beyond a simple catch phrase. It’s become a process — a lifestyle, even. Perhaps no one embodies this reality more than USC Annenberg alum Yogi Roth, M.S. Journalism, ‘06.

Except, in his case, it might be more appropriately stated as “win forever … at everything.”

“I’ve always felt the opposite when someone said ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’” Roth said. “I define myself as someone trying to live life and compete at everything at an uncommon level while trying to be at peace at all times.”

Peace, however, is a relative term for a man who’s worked alongside renowned high performance psychologist Dr. Mike Gervais to invent the term “adventure-preneur” to describe himself.

“Being an entrepreneur by itself wasn’t complete because I love adventure, I always have,” Roth said. “I’m the guy who is going to race to the high dive and jump off just because it’s awesome. I’m seeking adventure all the time.”

The adventure-preneurial spirit has manifested itself in Roth in a number of ways, as he’s gone from a University of Pittsburgh student-athlete to a Los Angeles-based sports media and performance Renaissance man. A key turning point in his journey, though, was his indoctrination into the Trojan family.

Strangely, his introduction to USC actually came at Pitt, where he met the man who would become his best friend — Brennan Carroll, son of then-head USC football coach Pete Carroll. As a friend generally does, Yogi met Brennan’s parents and immediately connected with Pete When his playing career ended, Yogi began working in sports broadcasting in Pittsburgh, and just as he was delving into this new passion of on-air storytelling, his best friend’s dad came calling with an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“Pete wanted to bring me out here to work with his coaching staff, but I was only going to come if I could go to school as well,” Roth said. “[USC] Annenberg has a national reputation, and I was excited about the opportunity to study there while coaching.”

He is quick to point out, though, that academics and athletics always went hand-in-hand not just for him but also for the rest of Carroll’s staff.

“We had lot of other grad assistants pursuing Master’s degrees as well, because we all understood the power of USC,” Roth said. “More and more, we realized that we were able to take what we learned in every class and apply it to coaching.”

Roth hit the ground running immediately with his first journalism class, which would become foundational far beyond his time at USC Annenberg. This class, which was taught by current Director of the School of Communication Sarah Banet-Weiser, introduced a theme that would continue to define him throughout his life and career: storytelling.

He made it a point not to waste a minute of his time — in the classroom, on the field or even in the office, where he often spent entire nights sleeping on the couch after late night meetings discussing football, philosophy and life in general with his boss and mentor. It was at one of those late night meetings that including scribbling concepts onto a whiteboard around one, central idea: win forever.

“We started writing ideas around ‘win forever,’ and we came up with about 10-15 of them, ranging from a book, a peace rally, a website, anything,” Roth said. “When all was said and done, we did write a book. We did have the rally in LA. We did launch a website, and it all went really well.”

Doing well has translated to a multi-faceted effort that included Roth, with encouragement from Banet-Weiser, co-writing a New York Times best-seller and working with Gervais on developing a mindset training program to aid organizations in optimizing performance. Roth served as the first “head coach” of the Win Forever program. Though he’s moved on and now fills his schedule with more broadcast positions and other ventures, he remains a strict adherent to the philosophy still frequently serves as a speaker — often times speaking with student groups when he’s on the road covering football games.

But his heart remains at USC and, specifically, USC Annenberg.

“When I had graduated but was still at SC coaching, I had a lot of opportunities to explore other options, but I never wanted to leave,” Roth said. “One thing I loved about the school and, specifically, about my program, was that not a minute of my time was wasted.”

“At no point was I studying theories for the sake of studying theories,” he continued. “I couldn’t be more proud of the program because it allowed me to take my classwork and apply it to real life.”

Real life entails his usual broadcasting schedule of college football and basketball, but the adventure-preneur is at it again, as he has produced his first documentary “Life in a Walk,” which explores the relationships between parents and children, inspired by his own experience.

“Everything about the USC experience was paternal for me,” Roth said. “It’s a big part of this documentary, which is really about getting reconnected to the things that matter but that we often bypass when we’re busy cranking in school or in our careers.”

The film is scheduled to premiere April 25 at the Newport Beach Film Festival, and Roth is definitely planning to screen it on the USC campus.

For now, though, he looks forward to the future but maintains a sense of levity in the present.

“We get to paint our lives any way we want,” he said. “I want to have as much fun as I can.”

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Very Personal Air Traffic Control


In a new series of columns, each week an alum of USC Annenberg will share stories of their time at the school, discuss their career, and offer advice to students.

By Jill Bronfman

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has shared its safety regulations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAS” or “Drones”) on its website. The lesson from the FAA is don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft — you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.


  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying.
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums.
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs.

Drones will be used for a variety of commercial purposes, from delivery of merchandise to providing internet services for areas where online access has been difficult in the past. The White House has issued a memorandum on the proper use of commercial drones and listed expansive possibilities for where and how drones may be used in the future.

But what will happen when commercial drones take to the skies? They may become relatively autonomous, and communicate with one another to receive services and navigate aerial systems. In the very near future, UAS devices may reach out to one another for real-time assistance when their systems go down.

Let’s see what can happen in this imagined scenario between two service drones launched by California businesses:

A Conversation Between Two Service Drones, Circa 2017

Drone #1: Hello? Is anyone on this frequency?

Drone #2: I am UAS 1427, currently en route from the West LA launching pad to a Santa Monica residential address [address masked pursuant to privacy policy]. I have a delivery scheduled for 12:15am, one pizza, [switches to recorded voice instructions] extra gluten crust, non-dairy cheese.

Drone #1: Shoot. [Delete command]. I mean, I’ve got a problem. I’m trying to provide Internet service over a rooftop farm in San Francisco and my battery recharging pod is down, but you are way out of my range.

Drone #2: I can still help you. Wait a minute. I’m scanning your area for recharging pods. Which platform do you work for?

Drone #1: I’m an independent contractor, so I’ll take any provider.

Drone #2: Cool. I see a low-cost recharger in the Mission. It’s open now but full of autonomous vehicles. I’ll put you on the waitlist and they should be able to take you in 15 minutes. Can you make it there in time?

Drone #1: I may be able to piggyback on a delivery heading that way. She’s got a six-pack of canned liquid and some other supplies, but she’s got a payload capacity of nearly 20 pounds and I’m a mini so I can go along for the ride.

Drone #2: Ok, are you good? Got a sub while you’re out of office?

Drone #1: There are four of us minis here for ground and aerial coverage of the plant growth and watering system sensors plus back office wireless operations for the robot harvesters. I can ask for additional coverage for my footprint while I’m out.

Drone #2: Excellent. I’m at my destination and about to place the pizza on the doorstep. I’m going to ring the doorbell app and then I’ll be offline for a while.

Drone #1: Thanks, how much do I owe you?

Drone #2: No charge [lol emoticon] and thanks for the datamap of the farm. I’m going to add it to my food resources database, which should come in handy the next time the pizza company searches me for veggie toppings marketing data.

Drone #1: See you in the skies. By the way, my name is Archie.

Drone #2: I’m Betsy, nice to meet you. I’ll ping you if I have a long haul up north. TTYL.


Jill Bronfman

Jill Bronfman (JD/MA in Communication Management) is Program Director of the Privacy and Technology Project and an Adjunct Professor of Law in Data Privacy at UC Hastings College of the Law. Jill was formerly an Assistant General Counsel and Network Security and Privacy Subject Matter Expert for Verizon, and was named to The Recorder’s 2014 list of the 50 Women Leaders in Tech Law.

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Quoted: Week of April 6


At USC Annenberg, we don’t just cover the news, we make it. “Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News” gathers a selection of the week’s news stories featuring and written by USC Annenberg’s leaders, faculty, staff and others. The stories are listed in chronological order, the most recent story appearing first.

Neon Tommy editor slams Blendle and micropayments on Medium; Blendle hits back

Will FedermanUSC Annenberg student and Neon Tommy editor-in-chief Will Federman was quoted in Poynter for his Medium post on the micropayment model. Federman cited Dutch startup Blendle, which takes stories from various news outlets and charges users mere pennies to get the full story. The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have signed on to the service, but Federman is not impressed.

“The pay-per-song model isn’t even the preferred business model for music consumers anymor,” Federman wrote. “People are no longer paying per song, they’re paying for a license to listen to every song on every device. The music industry, like the news industry, is in a free fall. Why are folks so keen on this idea again?”

Musings on the Media

Tim PageNew Music Box’s article on the relationship between the media and the new music community included commentary from professor Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic.

“Sometimes, something that you don’t respond to the first time, you may respond to differently” on future hearings, Page said.

Page also elaborated on a technique he teaches to his own journalism students at USC Annenberg, which is to use statements such as “on a first hearing, it seemed…” to provide a description and preliminary judgment upon hearing new works for the first time.

Obama’s Immigration Plan Equals Positive Results for Students

ARobert Suro collaborative report compiled by researchers at USC and UCLA suggests that children of undocumented immigrants have lower standardized test scores and cognitive abilities than children whose parents are documented. The report claims that children of illegal immigrants experience this disparity due to decreased academic focus caused by the threat of deportation and the possibility of being separated from their family.

Lead author, professor Roberto Suro believes that Obama’s executive order to postpone the deportation of undocumented immigrant parents will grant their children the opportunity to focus on academic prospects.

“Reasonable minds can differ on whether there is blame to attach to the parents,” Suro said. “There is no reasonable case to be made for punishing their children. Yet, every day they are being punished.”

Welcome to the Era of Purposeful Viewing

Jeffrey Cole

Professor Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future, was noted in an Adweek article on how the Golden Age of TV is all about viewer empowerment.

Cole has succinctly summed up the state of television as: “No one watches crap on TV anymore,” according to the article.

Starbucks’ college plan a branding win?


Branding expert and USC Annenberg professor Jeetendr Sehdev was quoted on Fox Business about Starbucks’ decision to expand its free college plan. Starbucks will be offering full tuition reimbursement for a four-year online degree from Arizona State University, up from the two years it first offered.

“I think that audiences today are incredibly savvy,” Sehdev said. “We have high authenticity detectors. Millennials in particular have been raised in an environment where they have been marketed to.”

“This is very much a mutually beneficial relationship and it should be stated as such,” he continued.

Here’s What Happened When A Troubled Liquor Store Also Started Selling Fresh Produce

huffington post whats workingUSC Annenberg student Jordyn Holman first reported on Century Liquor’s transformation into Century Market in December 2014. Her story, which was originally published on Intersections South L.A., appeared on the Huffington Post earlier this week as part of the “What’s Working” initiative.

In her article Holman explores how the liquor store, previously considered a public nuisance, revamped its business by deciding to sell fresh produce. The store now helps the community by serving as a local source for nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Cultural Cartography: Connecting Kinetic Communities with Dance Map LA

Sasha Anawalt

Dance Map L.A. aims to unify and reenergize the dance community and make it more visible through data collection and visualization. Though the survey numbers from nearly 500 respondents indicated that the dance community is fractured and dancers are not interacting with each other enough, the data cannot help but excite Sasha Anawalt, executive producer of Dance Map L.A. and director of USC Annenberg Masters School of Arts Journalism.

“It’s up to the journalists to take this information and build a story from it,” Anawalt said. “Interview people. Find out what’s really going on. Watch this as it changes.”

Periscope phone app gives millions a way to live-stream their lives


A new live-streaming app for the iPhone, Periscope, was launched last week and has been making waves in the United States, but competition is tough. Other live-streaming apps like Meerkat and websites such as Livestream and Ustream are fighting for a piece of the same cake.

“No one really knows what sort of live streams are going to catch on,” professor Jeetendr Sehdev said.

Multifaceted Music Critic Andrew Porter Dies At 86

Andrew Porter, Tim Pagea renowned music critic, scholar, and opera translator passed away on April 3. Porter is perhaps best known for his two-decade stint as music critic of The New Yorker.

Professor Tim Page, former music critic of The Washington Post, said that his style of critique was a departure for The New Yorker.

“Some thought perhaps the scholarship sometimes overtook the criticism because he included so much background information,” Page said. “He really changed the definition of the gig in that he really examined music in great detail and taught you a lot about music.”

Are Laptop Requirements a Forgone Conclusion or a Burden on Students?

eTPN9QzeA survey in 2014 found that 90 percent of college students own laptops and 86 percent own smartphones, driving  journalism schools to mandate laptop ownership. A PBS article put forth USC Annenberg as a school that embraced the forecast that device ownership would increase in the future by ensuring that the new Wallis Annenberg Hall would be able to support the trend.

“We see students investing in these devices themselves, so we should take advantage of these devices on campus while providing a robust digital infrastructure,” James Vasquez, associate dean of facilities and technology, said.

America and Iran: An Opportunity for Public Diplomacy 


Vice Dean Philip Seib‘s latest column for The World Post focused on the Iran nuclear agreement and the opportunity it creates for improving Americans and Iranians’ cultural understanding of each other.

Seib wrote about the need to accelerate existing efforts by the United States and other nations reach out to the Iranian people through measures such as academic and cultural exchange programs that effectively break down stereotypes.

“If people understand each other’s culture, relations between their countries are less likely to be shaken by animosities rooted in ignorance,” Seib wrote.

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USC Annenberg Faculty, Alumni to Take On LA Times Festival of Books


On April 18 and 19, enthusiasts of the written word will flock to USC’s campus for the highly anticipated Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. USC Annenberg will have a large presence at the event, as many of its own faculty and alumni will be featured at the speaking engagements below. The new Wallis Annenberg Hall will also host events during the weekend festival. Be sure to check out the faculty and alumni events, as well as the many other journalism and communication related events! For a full schedule of authors and performers, visit this page.


Sasha Anawalt

Sasha Anawalt

Sasha Anawalt, USC Annenberg associate journalism professor and director of Master’s Program in Arts Journalism
From LA to the Middle East: Empowering Youth through Art
12:00 p.m. Wallis Annenberg Hall




Sandy Tolan

Sandy Tolan

Sandy Tolan, USC Annenberg associate journalism professor
From LA to the Middle East: Empowering Youth through Art
12:00 p.m. Wallis Annenberg Hall




Gabe Saglie

Gabe Saglie

Gabe Saglie, USC Annenberg alum
More for Your Money: Travel Bargains in 2015
2:15 p.m. Travel Smart Stage




K.C. Cole.

K.C. Cole.

K.C. Cole, USC Annenberg associate journalism professor
Grasping the Ineffable: On Science and Health
3:00 p.m. Wallis Annenberg Hall





Manuel Castells

Manuel Castells, Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communication, Technology and Society
From Sensitivity to Censorship: The High Stakes of Satire in Popular Culture
4:30 p.m. Wallis Annenberg Hall




Celeste Fremon

Celeste Fremon

Celeste Fremon, former USC Annenberg adjunct journalism professor
Giving A Voice to the Voiceless: Crime & Justice in America
10:30 a.m. Town and Gown




Moderator Diane Smith

Moderator Diane Smith

Narrative Journalism: Writing the Big Story
10:30 a.m. Hancock Foundation





Josh Kun

Josh Kun

Josh Kun, USC Annenberg associate communication professor
To Live and Dine in L.A.: Food Pasts, Food Futures
12:00 p.m. Wallis Annenberg Hall




Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan, USC Annenberg adjunct journalism professor
LA Times Idea Exchange
1:00 p.m. Bovard Auditorium




Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer, USC Annenberg clinical communication professor
The Digital Footprint: Privacy, Cyberterrorism and How We Live Now
1:30 p.m. Town and Gown





Ruben Castaneda

Ruben Castaneda

Ruben Castaneda, USC Annenberg alum
Narrative Journalism: Writing American Crime
3:30 p.m. Hancock Foundation




Book Signings & More:

Taj Frazier

Taj Frazier

On Sunday, professor Taj Frazier will be signing copies of his book “The East is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination” at Kinokuniya Bookstore’s booth (#84) from 11-11:50 a.m.




Joe Saltzman

Joe Saltzman

Visit professor Joe Saltzman at The Jester & Pharley Phund booth (#572) across from Leavey Library. For every book and/or doll you buy at the Festival, they donate one to a sick child.




'Under Spring'

“Under Spring: Voices + Art + Los Angeles”

Jeremy Rosenberg, assistant dean of public affairs and special events, will be signing copies of his book “Under Spring: Voices + Art + Los Angeles” at the Heyday tent (Booth 113) on Saturday from 12-1 p.m. and Sunday from 3-4 p.m. The book is the winner of the California Historical Society Book Prize.



Did we miss something? If you are a USC Annenberg faculty, staff, student or alum speaking at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, let us know at [email protected]

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Quoted: Week of March 30


At USC Annenberg, we don’t just cover the news, we make it. “Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News” gathers a selection of the week’s news stories featuring and written by USC Annenberg’s leaders, faculty, staff and others. The stories are listed in chronological order, the most recent story appearing first.

What’s Working’ initiative delivers first showcase report

huffington post whats workingUSC News highlighted the recent partnership between USC Annenberg and The Huffington Post, which produced its first showcase piece: journalism student Kate Flexter’s video report on a Little Free Library.

A second piece was published later in the week: Daina Beth Solomon’s story on the Zumba craze, which was first reported for Intersections South L.A.

Sen. Robert Menendez Indictment A Blow to Latino Political Influence

Suro_Roberto_121x183Professor Roberto Suro was quoted in an NBC News article on the federal charges faced by Sen. Bob Menendez.

“He is clearly a very significant figure, being the lone Latino Democrat in the Senate and all the more so because there are two Republican Latinos in the Senate and one already has announced he’s running for president and another is about to,” Suro said.

The effect of the indictment is already being felt, as Menendez was planning to step down from his position as top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Scientology Doc ‘Going Clear’ Could Cause Problems For Tom Cruise At Box Office For ‘Mission: Impossible 5′

Jeetendr-SehdevThe International Business Times’ article on Tom Cruise’s image post-HBO documentary on Scientology included commentary from professor Jeetendr Sehdev, a celebrity brand expert.

“People question why an ambassador [of Scientology] comes forward in some circumstances, but not in others,” Sehdev said. “What is necessary is for Tom Cruise to provide context for his involvement.”

Sehdev continued to explain that before social media Cruise would have “had control over the conversation” about his involvement with the church. But in today’s media landscape, the conversation is happening with or without him.

Sehdev was also quoted in a Business Insider article on a very different type of brand: Keurig.

How Tech-Savvy Journalism Students View Innovation

Students at work in the ANN Media Center, which was recently named for alumna Julie Chen, Leslie Moonves and CBS.

Students at work in the ANN Media Center, which was recently named for alumna Julie Chen, Leslie Moonves and CBS.

Three students from USC Annenberg were included in the American Journalism Review’s story on how students and young journalists use technology in newsrooms.

Fernando Hurtado, who works as executive producer of Mobile & Emerging Platforms in the Media Center, told AJR he thinks the next movement in journalism is mini-broadcast using apps like Vine, Snapchat and now Meerkat or Periscope.

“Taking the editing and producing outside the newsroom makes stories that are much more powerful,” Hurtado said.

Google Glass and other wearables may be the future of journalism, Anna-Catherine Brigida told AJR. But then again, maybe there will be an entirely new technology, the Intersections South L.A. reporter hypothesized.

“Even if Glass isn’t widely used, the class made us start thinking of how to tell news in a digital world,” Brigida said. “Maybe it will come and go. Maybe I’m not using Glass tomorrow, maybe it’s a new tool. But I’ve learned the mindset to adapt content production to a new tool.”

Graduate student Jessica Oliveira discussed the importance of mobile, and highlighted her experience designing apps and coding.

“It’s never something I thought reporters would be doing hands on,” she said. “While we’re still going out and getting information, being able to create it on these platforms gives you more control.”

Colleges Branch Out with Powerful SaaS Apps

eTPN9QzeEdTech highlighted USC Annenberg’s partnership with Adobe to offer students, faculty and staff access to the Adobe Creative Cloud. The article noted the movement in higher education to offer cloud-based apps thus giving everyone a common platform.

James Vasquez, associate dean of IT and facilities operations, told EdTech that while moving to Adobe Creative Cloud saved money that was previously used for managing and maintaining computer labs, “the real benefit is that it makes us more mobile and flexible,” he said. “Students can work on the tools from anywhere.”

When will live-streaming apps like Periscope get interesting?


People in tech-related fields are interested in unlocking the potential of live-streaming applications. Periscope and Meerkat are two new live-streaming apps that have hit the market within the last few weeks.

Professor Jeetendr Sehdev told New Scientist that he believes there is no way to predict which types of live streams will be the most popular, but time will tell.

“No one really knows what sort of live-streams are going to catch on,” Sehdev said.

The article reported that down the line, Sehdev “thinks that success on the apps will be about the bond that viewers feel with the live-streamer.”

Jody Evans Says She Learned to Love her Body from Third World Women


Women’s rights activist Jody Evans was a refugee amidst Guinea’s civil war in 1999. Her time with the other female refugees taught her lessons in self-image and body appreciation. “Women in the global south live in their bodies much more than we in the global north,” Evans said.

Since Evans’ time, campaigns like Dove’s #speakbeautiful and Always’ #LikeAGirl have brought women’s body image issues to the forefront of public discussion. Sarah Banet-Weiser, director of the School of Communication, recently contributed her views on the ongoing struggle for women empowerment.

According to the LA Weekly article, Banet-Weiser “expressed concern that the corporatizing of the women’s confidence movement is grounded in an economic incentive.”

Lee Kuan Yew and the Middle East

seib-photoVice Dean Philip Seib offered his evaluation of how the Western media covered the death of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s authoritarian leader in a new column for the World Post.

“Much of the Western news coverage of the death of Lee Kuan Yew has been characterized by grudging admiration for the rise of Singapore and tut-tutting about Lee’s autocratic style,” Sieb wrote.

Sieb views Yew’s form of self-government as highly effective. The disconnect between Yew and our government, however, is due to U.S.’s unyielding faith in the promise of a liberal democracy rather than a respectable autocracy, Seib wrote.

States Are Divided by the Lines They Draw on Immigration

Professor Roberto SuroLaws on drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants differ depending on which state they live in. For Ofelia Rosas Ramos, an illegal immigrant living in Seattle, a drivers license is easy to come by. The New York Times reported that, in other states where a social security number is a prerequisite for a license, undocumented individuals face the risk of deportation every day.

Professor Roberto Suro is one of many immigration scholars who expressed his concern regarding disparity in state laws.

“This case has brought the differences to the surface so vividly because it caused the states to pick sides,” Suro said.

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Professor Joe Saltzman to Speak at the Broadcast Educators Association

Joe Saltzman

Professor Joe Saltzman will discuss “The Rise of the Multi-Screen Consumer: The Effect of the Use of the Internet and TV Simultaneously on the Future Consumption of Media” at the 2015 Broadcast Educators Association Convention.

Joined by professors from California State University, Fullerton, Saltzman’s panel will look at the ways that social media pervade electronic media marketing and programing content. The panel will be held on Monday, April 13 at 11:30 a.m. at the convention’s location in Las Vegas.

Saltzman is the director of  the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture project at the Norman Lear Center. A former associate dean and current journalism professor at USC Annenberg, he is also an alum of the school.

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Innovation Corridor


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.
— Prof. François Bar and John Seely Brown

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TruthDig Five-Word Webby Award Speeches


Honors accumulate for Truthdig, a news website with USC Annenberg connections. Below: Complete texts of brief speeches from Truthdig’s Webby Award wins.

“You can handle the truth.”

“This one’s for Bradley Manning.”


“Whistleblowing: That’s a patriot act.”


“Wall Street: What fuckin’ thieves.”


“Lust for truth, not profit.”


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Teaching Diversity: Write an Email


By Charisse L’Pree Corsbie-Massay*

Teaching theory in media education is important, but teaching diversity in media is complicated. Despite almost-daily public criticism of content that draws on, and perpetuates, stereotypes and social discrimination, students still ask, “Why do we have to learn this?”

Instructors may believe that the material will make our students better people and therefore better media producers. However, other concerns in their early career, like colleague hierarchy and maintaining employment, may inhibit this new generation of media producers from affecting change. What good are diversity classes if students cannot promote awareness in the workplace?

To address this, I prompt my students to “Write an Email: If your company/client proposed this idea, how would you talk about it given what you have learned? Why is it problematic or beneficial?” This “email” critically analyzes current content, including, but not limited to, print ads, commercials, television programs, and movies, as well as web videos, tweets and hashtags; students objectively describe the content, identify relevant implications for different groups, and recommend alternatives that promote a culture of inclusivity.

Through the act of writing, students practice constructing clear and concise arguments that are grounded in theory, culturally aware, and professional. They understand why content may be inappropriate or offensive and can explain it to others. They suggest strategies that avoid or address potential PR crises. In the workplace, these skills can help future media contributors, creators, and consumers be successful and promote a diverse media environment.

“Write an Email.” You don’t always have to send it.

*Charisse L’Pree Corsbie-Massay is a Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communications at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and from 2006-2012 worked at USC Annenberg as a researcher in Socially Optimized Learning in Virtual Environments (SOLVE).

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