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FCC to Study Media Health

Chairman cites ‘pivotal moment in history’ of media

The Federal Communications Commission has appointed an Internet entrepreneur and journalist to lead an agency effort focused on the state of media.

The point is to assess the media marketplace in challenging economic times “and make recommendations designed to ensure a vibrant media landscape,” according to the announcement.

As newspaper circulation continues to drop, studies from both the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism called for a reassessment of the media marketplace both inside and outside of government, including at the FCC. At first glance, it’s unclear whether other kinds of media would be included in the review.

Chairman Julius Genachowski appointed Steven Waldman, the co-founder, president, and editor-in-chief of, a multi-faith religious Web site, who was its CEO from 2002 until 2007, when it was acquired by News Corporation. As he heads the effort, Waldman, who worked served as US News & World Report and Newsweek before creating, will step down from the Web site and News Corp. and discontinue his blog and the column he writes for Wall Street Journal Online.

Genachowski said Waldman’s print experience as well as his Internet work make him “uniquely qualified” to lead the effort.

“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,” stated Genachowski, who added that respected entities have called on the commission to assess the issues.

Waldman will join the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and serve as senior advisor to the chairman; he will work with commission bureaus and lead a process to develop recommendations to make sure that consumers receive the news they seek.