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MU Pushes for Increased Access Through Symposium, Gig.U

Nov. 15 symposium to highlight need for increased broadband access, more funding for local journalism

November 14th, 2011

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo – A report released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June 2011 stated that local journalism is in a state of crisis. In the report, “Information Needs of Communities,” the FCC concludes that lack of government advertising money, philanthropic support and journalism schools’ ability to produce local news content are some of the leading factors. To address these issues, the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the University of Missouri School of Journalism is hosting a symposium on November 15 to discuss and examine ways to reverse this trend. Steven Waldman, former FCC advisor, will deliver the keynote address and discuss the recently released FCC report.

In the FCC report, Waldman discusses the need for universal broadband access, saying it is essential to media innovation. Waldman goes on to say that increased development of this information technology infrastructure would increase government transparency and fuel local media innovation. The University of Missouri School of Journalism offers a unique perspective as it operates both a commercial NBC affiliate, KOMU-TV, and one of the nation’s leading NPR stations, KBIA-FM. As the world’s first school of journalism and one whose mission is to train journalists in real-world media outlets, the school has a strong interest in the FCC recommendations and the implications of future policy decisions.

The University of Missouri also is working to increase broadband access in local communities and globally. As a member of the Gig.U consortium, MU is acting to accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks to universities and their surrounding communities. Once in place, the network will benefit researchers who collaborate with colleagues throughout the world, students who need access to the latest knowledge on many subjects, businesses that would use the network to enhance their success and bring new discoveries to the marketplace, and individuals who use the network for business and personal needs.

The Gig.U project and its implications to local innovation will be discussed at length at the November 15 symposium. Amy McCombs, the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and organizer for the November 15 symposium at MU, is excited about the future of this innovation at Missouri.

“The university is taking a proactive role in this digital age of information,” McCombs said. “The accessibility of accountability journalism is vital to our society. Through RJI, the Gig.U project, and Mizzou Advantage initiatives like Media of the Future and Managing Innovation, MU has positioned itself as a leader in digital information dissemination.”

For more information about the symposium visit:

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) engages media professionals, scholars and citizens in programs aimed at improving the practice and understanding of journalism. Part of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, RJI collaborates with news and technology companies, professional associations, foundations and individuals to generate and test innovative models and technologies for journalism and advertising. Donald W. Reynolds Fellows spend an academic year at RJI, working with Missouri faculty and students and RJI staff to develop new ways to gather, process, and deliver news, information and advertising. RJI was launched in 2004 with an initial $31 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Gig.U is a broad-based group of 37 universities and communities across the country working in an effort to accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks to universities and their surrounding communities. The project is led by Blair Levin, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program Fellow and former executive director of the National Broadband Plan, and Elise Kohn, formerly a policy advisor at the Federal Communications Commission.  For more information, please visit

Mizzou Advantage was created to increase MU’s visibility, stature and impact in higher education locally, statewide, nationally and around the world. The first round of grant funding, totaling more than $900,000, supports proposals that boost existing faculty and community networks, create new interdisciplinary collaborations, strengthen the student learning experience and propel Mizzou’s research to the next level.