FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has tapped Beliefnet.com president and co-founder Steven Waldman to head a commission assessment of the state of the media and recommendations for preserving it in a time of technological upheaval.
That effort follows the release of the Knight Commission report which called for "new thinking" to preserve Democratic information exchange, and a Columbia Graduate School of Journalism study's call for a similar reassessment of the media marketplace.
Michael Copps, as acting chairman, teed up an inquiry into the state of journalism that has yet to be launched.
Waldman will join the commission as a senior advisor to the chairman and a member of the Office of Strategic Planning. According to the FCC, his charter is to "work with the relevant FCC bureaus and lead an open, fact-finding process to craft recommendations to meet the traditional goals of serving the public interest and making sure that all Americans receive the information, educational content, and news they seek."
That will require him stepping down from Beliefnet and parent News Corp. and discontinue his blog and column for the co-owned The Wall Street Journal.
Waldman is the former national editor of U.S. News & World Report and was national correspondent for Newsweek.
"A strong consensus has developed that we're at a pivotal moment in the history of the media and communications, because of game-changing new technologies as well as the economic downturn," said Genachowski in announcing the hire. "Highly respected entities have called on the FCC to assess these issues. At such a moment, it is important to ensure that our polities promote a vibrant media landscape that furthers long-standing goals of serving the information needs of communities. The initiative is intended to identify the best ideas for achieving those goal, while recognizing that government must be scrupulous in abiding by the First Amendment and never dictating or controlling the content of the news or other communications protected by the First Amendment."