2007 Robert M. Batscha University Seminar Series

Panelist Biographies: Beyond the Anchor Desk

Jon Alpert's distinguished and award-winning career as a video producer and reporter has taken him to hot news spots around the world including Cambodia, Vietnam, Iran, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Cuba, the Soviet Union, China and Iraq. He also serves as cofounder/codirector of the Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV), America's largest and most honored nonprofit community media center which is located in a landmark Chinatown, New York firehouse. Between 1974 and 1979, Jon coproduced five one-hour documentaries for public television. Jon began contributing to NBC in 1979 and over the next dozen years his investigative reporting, editing, and camera work earned an impressive string of awards and scoops. Some of the awards were for camerawork and editing; Jon is the only Emmy-winning reporter to also be honored in these craft categories. Jon still does his own camerawork, and he pioneered the use of the one-person ENG crew. Jon originated many of the technological innovations that helped usher in the ENG revolution, including the initial use of inter-format computer editing, the first telecast of color ENG, and the first use of Betacam. In recent years he has worked with HBO to produce a series of investigative documentaries, including Baghdad ER which premiered in May 2006 to great critical acclaim. It won four National Prime Time Emmys, a duPont-Columbia Award, a Peabody Award, and The Christopher Award. Jon has also reported from and produced documentaries on a wide variety of topics that have appeared on numerous networks. He also designed and created the Cybercar-a forty foot long production bus with a satellite dish on the top and a video wall on the side. The Cybercar has been employed for initiatives that creatively use technology and media. Most recently it went into New York City's most dangerous neighborhoods to combat gun violence; town meetings of local youth gathered around the Cybercar to view Bullets in the Hood-DCTV's youth produced film that won the Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Merrill Brown (moderator) is the chairman of the board of NowPublic.com, the world's largest participatory news network. NowPublic has become the largest news organization of its kind with more than 100,000 members in over 3,600 cities and 140 countries. Merrill is also national editorial director of the News 21 project, part of a journalism initiative launched by the Carnegie and Knight foundations. Merrill was the founding editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com in 1996. A longtime media consultant and analyst, Merrill developed online and internet strategies for companies including Time, Inc., U.S. West, Money magazine and NBC. Merrill was one of the initial strategists responsible for creating Court TV, and served the network as senior vice president, corporate and program development. From 1985 to 1990, Merrill was editor-in-chief of Channels magazine. Merrill has also made numerous television appearances over the years, including the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1980 to 1990, as a regular media analyst for CNBC and FNN from 1988 to 1990, and on dozens of other major broadcast and cable news programs.

Debra Galant is founder and editor-in-chief of Baristanet.com, one of the first of new breed of websites that use the blog platform to cover local news. Launched in May, 2004, Baristanet was named the #1 placeblog in America in January, 2007. In 1995, Debra was asked to write a cover story for the Jersey section of the New York Times on the subject of suburban etiquette. Suburban etiquette became her beat, and that story led to a five-year column in the Times. Debra has also written for New York Magazine, New Jersey Monthly, Barron's, Worth and other national magazines. When her husband brought home a Tamagotchi toy in 1997, Debra quickly saw it as a metaphor for incompetent parenting. That became a commentary on NPR's All Things Considered. She has also recorded several radio features for public radio's Marketplace and is a regular speaker at blogging forums and women's groups. RATTLED, Debra's first novel, was both a Book Sense pick and a New York Times Editors' Choice selection, is now out in paperback. Her second novel, Fear and Yoga in New Jersey, is due out next winter from St. Martin's Press. She is now working on a third novel.

Adam Glenn is an award-winning Internet news veteran now working as an independent online media consultant. He has held posts with news organizations in New York and Washington, most recently as senior producer at ABCNews.com in New York, where he ran health, science, technology and business coverage. His clients have included The J-Lab at the University of Maryland, NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright's charitable foundation Autism Speaks, the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation and Rodale Inc. He currently teaches at the Columbia Journalism School, and NYU Journalism School, and is a columnist for the Poynter Institute's E-Media Tidbits group blog. Citizen journalism is a major interest for Adam, and in 2005 he co-founded I, Reporter, a citJ training business and blog, with long-time blogger Amy Gahran. Most recently, they won a Knight News Challenge Grant to launch a new citizen journalism web site covering environmental issues in Boulder, Colorado. They also recently developed an online database mashup of citizen media sites for the Knight Citizen News Network (KCNN.org), and helped launch a local newspaper web site in suburban New York, as well as presented programs and workshops for the New York Press Association and the Columbia Journalism School. Adam is on the editorial advisory board of the Society of Environmental Journalists and was awarded a 2002 Ford Environmental Journalism Fellowship to teach in India, as well as a 2005 Environmental Media Fellowship at the Vermont Law School. Also in 2005, he trained at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC. He previously earned a mid-career Masters of International Affairs (environmental policy) at Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in Boston.

Andrew Heyward is a senior advisor to Marketspace LLC, a subsidiary of Monitor Group, which specializes in helping companies make effective and profitable use of digital technology to interact with their customers. Andrew was president of CBS News from January 1996 to November 2005. CBS News was honored with many awards under his leadership, including 57 news and documentary Emmy Awards, 13 Peabody Awards, and 13 duPont-Columbia Awards. Andrew has also won 12 National Emmy awards. Andrew served as executive producer of the CBS Evening News and as Vice President, CBS News, from 1994 to 1996. Andrew was executive producer of the CBS News magazine Eye to Eye, and helped develop and launch 48 Hours in 1988, also serving as executive producer. Prior to that, he worked as a field producer, senior producer and then senior broadcast producer at the CBS Evening News from 1981 to 1987. Andrew joined WCBS-TV in 1976 as a news writer, becoming producer and then executive producer of The Six O'Clock Report.

Max Lugavere and Jason Silva are producers and hosts for Current TV, the cable network founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, which was honored with the Interactive Television Services Emmy Award this year. Both 25, Max and Jason met as film/philosophy students at the University of Miami. They are best friend s and roommates. Max and Jason submitted their college film "Textures of Selfhood," an examination of hedonism and spirituality to Current TV as the network was being put together, and were subsequently hired as hosts and content producers. Their subjects range from the fun to the serious; their piece on the ease with which a fake ID card may be purchased in Los Angeles earned them an interview on Anderson Cooper 360.

The 2007-2008 Robert M. Batscha University Seminar Series is generously funded by Dick Wolf.

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