Long-time news executive Barbara Cochran plans to retire as president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association next June; by that time, she will have served in that role for 12 years.
During her tenure, association Chairman Ed Esposito said, she “took RTNDA’s advocacy on behalf of electronic journalists to a new level, especially in the fight to preserve hard-fought First Amendment gains and protections. Barbara’s stand for strong ethical practices and journalistic excellence help set a standard for our industry.”
The RTNDA board has begun the process to seek a successor.
Listing highlights of her tenure, the association mentioned its 20-year effort to abolish vestiges of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, personal attack and political editorializing rules. Also, in response to requests from RTNDA and others, the Supreme Court for the first time allowed news media immediate access to the audio recording of the arguments in the 2000 presidential election dispute. RTNDA was part of a coalition that won reform of the Freedom of Information Act. Cochran led other FOI efforts including pushing the National Football League over game access for local stations to working for passage of a federal shield law.
Cochran came to RTNDA in 1997 from CBS News, where she was Washington bureau chief, the first woman to hold that position for a television network. Earlier she was executive producer of “Meet the Press,” vice president for news at National Public Radio and managing editor of the Washington Star.
Cochran will continue to serve as a consultant with the title of president emeritus.
NAB President/CEO David Rehr issued a statement in response to the news: “Barbara has been a First Amendment champion and an extraordinary leader for the entire broadcast news community. Her unwavering commitment to quality newsgathering is surpassed only by her class and integrity.” In 2002, RTNDA partnered with the National Association of Broadcasters to collocate conventions in Las Vegas and give RTNDA members access to the electronic media exhibits.