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Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center Announces Spring 2020 Fellows

The Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics, and Public Service is a research center of the Harvard Kennedy School, pictured here in 2017.
The Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics, and Public Service is a research center of the Harvard Kennedy School, pictured here in 2017. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Sixiao Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

The former White House Communications Director and Chief Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and National Public Radio’s first Moscow bureau chief are among the fellows who will join the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy this spring, the center announced Thursday.

The two Joan Shorenstein Fellows — former NPR Moscow bureau chief Ann Cooper and NBC investigative journalist April Glaser — will focus on writing a paper titled “Russian Media and the Legacy of Glasnost” and studying internet policy and user safety, respectively.

They join two Walter Shorenstein Fellows, former White House Communications Director and Chief Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton Don Baer and former Controller of BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra Gwyneth Williams.

Two fellows from this past fall, author Tara Westover and computer scientist Kathy Pham will continue their affiliations with the Center into the spring.

Baer said he intends for his study group to focus on the role of public media in the United States.

“What I’m hoping to do is to take a look at the opportunities and challenges that exist for public media in the United States, building on my role as Chair of the Board of Directors of PBS, and also talk about the ways there could be intersection and coordination between public media and private sector media to help drive a robust national conversation,” Baer said.

“I’m hoping to bring some people that I’ve worked with over the years from one part of that equation or the other to the Kennedy School and to my study group so that they can help to lead that conversation and engage and integrate some new perspectives,” he added.

The fellowship marks Baer’s second visit to HKS, following an Institute of Politics fellowship in 1997. He said he was “looking forward” to his time back at the school.

“I think the community there is just so stimulating and dynamic, and I’m excited to work with students and people on the faculty and people in general who are a part of it,” Baer said.

Cooper said she will prepare a paper centered on the “opening up of speech and press” during Glasnost in Russia, Putin’s subsequent rollbacks, and the policy’s implications in the present. Glasnost was a Soviet government policy instituted in the mid-1980s that allowed for open discussion of political and social ideas.

“There is very, very little freedom of the press in Russia, and that is true for traditional media. But amazingly, there are, you know, young people and people who are not traditional journalists who are pursuing investigative reporting or, you know, writing good political analysis, writing about social issues, and still going into that profession — that field,” Cooper said.

Shorenstein Center Communications Director Liz Schwartz called the new fellows an “interesting” group.

“We have a lot of different experiences, and expertise, but I think they’re all bringing this lens of how do we make the public conversation better, and information better, and make it possible for people to access the information that they need in different ways,” Schwartz said.

—Staff writer Sixiao Yu can be reached at sixiao.yu@thecrimson.com.

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