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Nicco Mele, former deputy publisher for the Los Angeles Times, will take over as director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy in July.
Mele currently works at the University of Southern California and was formerly an adjunct lecturer at the Shorenstein Center. He will take over for interim director Thomas E. Patterson, who succeeded formed director Alex S. Jones in July 2015, Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf announced Monday.
Patterson said he was excited about Mele’s appointment, especially considering his background in digital media.
“I think it was a terrific appointment. I think he’s perfect for the job,” Patterson said. “There are a lot more students here that are interested in how you use digital media to get out your message… the great thing about [Mele] is that he has a foot in all of those places, and that’s different from our previous permanent directors.”
Jones, who was director of the Shorenstein Center while Mele was an adjunct lecturer, echoed Patterson’s endorsement, describing him as “a superb choice.”
“I think that Nicco has the full package. He is one of the real founding fathers of the digital technology revolution and has a really deep understanding of it,” he said. “I think that is, of course, an enormous strength for the Shorenstein Center.”
Mele said he returned to Harvard both because of his love of teaching, and because he hopes to address what he characterized as the problems media is facing with the onset of technology.
“I think that our media is in a state of crisis. The business models that have funded journalism for hundreds of years are collapsing,” he said. “I feel a great sense of urgency for us to carefully examine… the challenges that technology is introducing into policymaking, into the political cycle, and into the political process.”
In a press release, Elmendorf described Mele as an “innovative” scholar.
“We are thrilled that he is returning to the Kennedy School to work with faculty, students, and scholars to advance our understanding of these critically important issues,” he wrote.
—Staff writer Nathaniel J. Hiatt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nathaniel_hiatt.
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