Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

“Steven Waldman Named To Lead Commission Effort on Future of Media In a Changing Technological Landscape” (FCC Press Release)

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced today the appointment of Steven Waldman, a highly respected internet entrepreneur and journalist, to lead an agency-wide initiative to assess the state of media in these challenging economic times and make recommendations designed to ensure a vibrant media landscape.

Earlier this month, the bipartisan Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy called for “new thinking” to “ensure the information opportunities of America’s people and the information vitality of our democracy” and proposed FCC action. The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism has highlighted the dire circumstances for newspapers, and both the Knight report and a recent study from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism called for a full reassessment of the media marketplace both inside and outside of government, including at the FCC
Waldman is the Co-Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of, the largest multifaith website for religion and inspiration, and served as its CEO from 2002 until 2007, when it was acquired by News Corporation. Under his leadership, Beliefnet won the top editorial awards on the Internet, including the General Excellence award from the Online News Association and the National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online.
Waldman, who will join the Office of Strategic Planning and serve as Senior Advisor to the Chairman, will work with the relevant FCC bureaus and lead an open, fact-finding process to craft recommendations to meet the traditional goals of serving the public interest and making sure that all Americans receive the information, educational content, and news they seek. He will step down from Beliefnet and News Corp and discontinue his blog and the regular column he writes for Wall Street Journal Online.
“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,” said Genachowski. “Highly respected entities have called on the FCC to assess these issues. At such a moment, it is important to ensure that our polities promote a vibrant media landscape that furthers long-standing goals of serving the information needs of communities. The initiative is intended to identify the best ideas for achieving those goal, while recognizing that government must be scrupulous in abiding by the First Amendment and never dictating or controlling the content of the news or other communications protected by the First Amendment.”
“Steve Waldman is uniquely qualified to look at this shifting terrain and make sure we meet this moment wisely,” Genachowski said. “He was an award-winning journalist in traditional media and then became an Internet pioneer — launching, running and bringing to profitability one of the great content success stories. He’s also known for his even-handedness and has garnered respect from people of widely different ideologies and approaches.”
Before creating Beliefnet, Waldman served as National Editor of US News & World Report and was National Correspondent for Newsweek. He’s author of the New York Times bestseller FOUNDING FAITH: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America. He also served as Senior Advisor to the CEO of the Corporation for National Service in the 1990s. His work has appeared in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review Online, Huffington Post, The Atlantic,, The Washington Monthly and Slate.
He has been a regular commentator on national television and radio programs including Fox & Friends, Fox Business, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN Headline News, ABC World News With Charles Gibson, NPR’s All Things Considered and On the Media, and many others. He was named a “Spiritual Innovator” by Time magazine.
“I’m excited by many of the new media’s innovations and, at the same time, concerned about the challenges facing American journalism, which potentially harm citizens’ ability to get information they need and hold leaders accountable,” said Waldman. “Most solutions will come from the private and non-profit sectors. But government rules already affect the media landscape in profound ways so it’s imperative that we both vigorously protect the First Amendment and determine which media policies make sense, which don’t.. Unwise government policies can undermine business models and hinder innovation. Smart policy can help businesses, facilitate innovation, and ensure a thriving media marketplace. ”

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Charles Cosimano

posted October 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Good luck playing hopscotch in the bureaucratic minefield that is the FCC. If you look at what they are really saying, it is, “We are faced with media that we cannot hope to regulate and we have find creative ways to explain to various pressure groups that they are wasting their time trying to get us to do the impossible.”

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Gerard Nadal

posted October 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm

This appointment is indeed a great honor. However, against the backdrop of an administration that is calling for the reinstatement of the fairness doctrine and aggressively attacking Fox News, you will have your hands full in protecting the Constitutional rights to freedom of speech; especially for those whom this administration reviles and is most threatened by. If you end up carrying Obama’s water, I fear that this appointment will become a watershed in what has been to date a sterling career, and will be what you are most remembered for.

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Steven Waldman

posted October 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Here is one of the several instances of Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC, stating his opposition to re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine.
Where did you hear that the Obama administration wants to reinstitute it?

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Gerard Nadal

posted October 29, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Watching this on Fox News Sunday, I was a little disconcerted by Axelrod’s punt,
More alarming still has been Obama’s vilification of Fox News as not being a legitimate news outlet, and being a mere mouthpiece for the RNC.
Worse still, is the appointment of Mark Lloyd to the new Czar post of “FCC Chief Diversity Officer”. Lloyd, as you know, is a former Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Lloyd proposes to force private broadcasters to pay a fee every year for their broadcast license that is EQUAL to their gross operating budget! A 100% tax to fund public radio, the stations with whom they are in competition.
Lloyd proposes a roadmap to attack conservative and Christian stations in order to remove their licenses.
Tell me, Steven, that this is not more caustic than the fairness doctrine?
Senator Jeff Bingaman has been calling for a reinstatement of the fairness doctrine, among others in Congress,
Going into your new position Steven, do you categorically renounce Lloyd’s back door proposal for gutting private and conservative talk radio? What is your response to those members of Congress who call for the reinstatement of the fairness doctrine, or to the Obama administration’s assault on Fox News as not a legitimate news organization?
This is what I was alluding to in my admonition to watch your career during your time at FCC. Obama may well be a one-term president. Though I don’t often agree with you on issues, I believe that you are a genuinely good and decent man.
People such as Lloyd are ideological hacks who are clearly out of your league, educationally, intellectually, and temperamentally.
Is it fair to ask your position on these substantive matters of fairness prior to your taking office?

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Steven Waldman

posted October 29, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I think I’ll refrain from pontificating until I actually start there.
But I can point out, a matter of fact, that the interview with Axelrod was in February. He said he’d defer to Julius Genachowski, the incoming chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, which has jurisdiction over the Fairness Doctrine. Genachowski was asked several times about this at congressional hearings and other venues and he has stated his position: he’s opposed to reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, on First Amendment grounds, among other reasons.

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Gerard Nadal

posted October 29, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I appreciate your candor. “Chief Diversity Officer” sounds pretty self-explanatory, and not a little ominous to conservatives. While Genachowski has come out in opposition to the fairness doctrine, he has not repudiated the assault on Fox News, nor has he repudiated Lloyd’s proposal for licensing fees for private (conservative) talk radio stations which would gut them just as efficiently as the so-called fairness doctrine. Government always crushes with punitive taxes that which it wishes to eliminate. I find Genachowski’s silence on Lloyd and the assaults on Fox as disturbing as it is convenient.
As an entrepreneur who co-founded and grew Beliefnet, you can appreciate the power of the free market. If people want something, they buy. If not, they pass. There is a reason why most liberal attempts in the private sector of the radio market have failed. There is a reason why Fox News has become a titan in cable. People are buying.
With only 33% of Americans identifying as Republican, why should Obama and the left feel threatened? That means 67% should be patronizing all other cable news outlets. That Fox is beating them all combined says something. Maybe they truly are fair and balanced, and are regarded as such by more than just Republicans.
When I see proposals such as Lloyds, they highlight how much people don’t subscribe to liberal cable news and public talk radio. There is a reason why most all liberal programming on the radio is on publicly-funded stations such as NPR. These draconian proposals punish not only the stations and their employees, but the American people for daring to think and believe differently from a self-ordained leftist elite. The greatest perversity of all is that my position used to be espoused by my liberal professors in the 60’s and 70’s. As Dylan sang, “the times they are a changing…”
People such as Obama, Lloyd, Bingaman, et al. are on the wrong side of the First Amendment and the American character. They’ll be remembered as such. You deserve a better fate.
God Bless

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Mr. Incredible

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:06 am

Gerard Nadal
October 29, 2009 8:37 PM
With only 33% of Americans identifying as Republican…
But declared Conservatives now outnumbering declared Libs…

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Mr. Incredible

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:12 am

So, Steve, when you deliver your report to the Commish after some length of time, is that the end of your appointment, y’think, or what? How long do you have to come up with a report?

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posted November 2, 2009 at 4:05 am

I think there could be more interaction from the viewer. If you look at the way that the TV and Computer games are heading, you see that the player has more and more control over the game and interacts in ways that wasn’t possible before. I think other media will follow.
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posted November 13, 2009 at 12:55 am

Interesting that conservatives, who dominate yammer radio and yammer tv due to the businessmen who buy adds for them and the dittoheads who want to be told what to think every day, claim to be panicked by rumors. Guys, you most of all, should know most rumors, and almost all rumors on the yammer shows, are false.
Steve, congratulations I guess. We’ll miss you here I’m sure.

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Well this is very interesting, i liked this post actually. I loved it it great work actually. Thanks for sharing this with us.
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