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A former Kennedy School of Government (KSG) lecturer was picked by ABC last Wednesday to oversee their coverage of special events—including a possible war with Iraq.
Rick Kaplan returns to ABC after a six-year hiatus during which he was President of CNN and a Lombard Visiting Lecturer and Fellow at the Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy, a position he held until last June.
“I had been on the sidelines for some time, and had missed some exciting news events,” Kaplan said. “I love journalism. I’m not ready to retire.”
In the spring of 2001, Kaplan led a module at the Center entitled “Do American Media Meet the Needs of a Modern Democracy?” He also conducted several study groups—open to all students in the university—on challenges facing the media.
Director of the Shorenstein Center Alex Jones called Kaplan a “mesmerizing teacher” who loves what he does. “The students in his study groups had a fine experience,” Jones said.
Kaplan said his time at the Shorenstein Center was extremely rewarding. The students he interacted with were “a great and bright group of interested and involved individuals,” he said.
But he said his time at the Center was not a vacation.
“You try standing in front of 70 Harvard students and answering their questions. It’s not easy,” he said.
As a fellow, Kaplan conducted research and wrote on the future of television news.
Jones said Kaplan may use what he learned from research at KSG to guide his choices as he takes the helm of special events coverage at ABC.
None of Kaplan’s work from his time at the Center has been published.
Jones said that given the work’s “rather sensitive” content, it would not be published while Kaplan is working in the media industry.
“It deals with situations that are in the process right now. Publishing it would be competitively disadvantageous for someone working in that area,” said Jones.
Kaplan said that he was excited to be back in news coverage, but he would not disclose his plans for coverage of the war in Iraq.
“That is something you share with your colleagues and do on the air,” he said.
He said that ABC would continue to uphold its tradition as a “responsible news network” that will “serve the needs of all viewers we can.”
Kaplan said television news faces a number of hurdles in the near future.
“We’re entering a difficult period in time in which there are lots of challenges for the media to remain relevant and wonderful,” he said
He said he expects television news to meet these challenges, and that coverage under his direction will “serve the interests of the industry, citizens and the democracy.”
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