Columbia, Mo. (Aug. 26, 2010) — Barbara Cochran, a news executive whose career includes top jobs in the broadcast, print and non-profit worlds, has been named the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Cochran will be based in the School’s bureau in Washington, D.C., where she has spent her entire career. Earlier this year she stepped down after 12 years as president of the Radio Television Digital News Association, the world’s largest organization serving the electronic news profession.
In announcing the appointment, Dean Mills, dean of the School, said that Cochran’s reputation for integrity and dedication to the highest principles of journalism made her an ideal choice.
“She’s one of those rare journalists who has been an international leader in both commercial and public broadcast and newspapers. Even more remarkable, she capped that career by leading one of the most important journalism professional associations through a period of dramatic change in the industry,” he said.
At RTDNA, Cochran championed the First Amendment rights of journalists, launched initiatives in ethics and diversity and led the association’s inclusion of digital journalists in its membership. She testified before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission on journalism and media issues and frequently addressed those issues in print and on air. Under Cochran’s leadership, RTDNA was a party to persuading the Supreme Court to immediately release the audio recording of arguments in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore election dispute. RTDNA received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism during her tenure.
Previously, Cochran served as managing editor of the Washington Star, vice president for news for National Public Radio, executive producer of NBC‘s Meet the Press and vice president and Washington bureau chief for CBS News. She has supervised coverage of stories from Watergate to the Persian Gulf War and played a leading role in the coverage of every election and political convention for 24 years. At NPR, she directed the creation of Morning Edition, the program that cemented NPR’s position as an essential national news provider. During her tenure, NPR won two DuPont-Columbia Awards.
Cochran has been recognized with a number of awards, including The Media Institute‘s Freedom of Speech Award, The AWC Matrix Foundation‘s Edith Wortman First Amendment Award, the Library of American Broadcasting‘s Giants of Broadcasting Award and RTDNF’s First Amendment Award.
Cochran has served as a judge for the DuPont-Columbia, George Foster Peabody and Hearst Collegiate Journalism Awards. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Cochran is co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Cochran has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York and a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. She and her husband, John Cochran, who has worked as a senior correspondent for NBC and ABC News, live in Washington.
“I’m very honored to have been selected to be the Hurley Chair,” said Cochran. “This position presents a marvelous opportunity to study public affairs journalism at a time of tremendous change. Digital media are having a profound impact on how policy-makers and journalists communicate with the public. The Hurley Chair can explore that and other trends in public affairs journalism by convening experts, commenting on media issues and connecting the School of Journalism’s research with the Washington journalism community.”
The Hurley Chair was endowed with an estate gift from E. A. and Lucille McLaughlin. The Chair was named for the country editor, former journalism student and friend of Walter Williams who encouraged Mr. McLaughlin to attend the University of Missouri and lent him $400 in 1927 to do so.
Missouri’s Washington Program offers undergraduate and graduate students coursework and hands-on experience, using the nation’s capital as a laboratory. The Hurley Chair will work with the School’s faculty to teach and provide course content for students.
Cochran also will engage in programs of research, consulting and training aimed at improving the practice of journalism, working with the Committee of Concerned Journalists, also located in Washington, and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.