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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

IPI welcomes two leading journalism scholars to its North American Committee board

University of Missouri Endowed Chair Marty Steffens and Florida International University professor Mercedes Vigón appointed to NAC board. 

By: Sasu Siegelbaum, IPI Contributor

Mercedes Vigón, speaks to journalists and journalism students in the Dominican Republic about ethical journalism during an IPI colloquium in Santiago de los Caballeros as part of IPI’s 2013 press-freedom mission to the country. Vigón, associate director of the International Media Centre and an associate professor of journalism at Florida International University, along with Martha "Marty" Steffens, Society of American Business Editors and Writers endowed chair at the University Missouri School of Journalism, were recently appointed to the NAC's executive board. Photo: Genris García for IPI

VIENNA June 26, 2013—Two distinguished scholars and accomplished journalists have been appointed to the board of the International Press Institute's (IPI) North American Committee (NAC), the organisation announced.

The two new members are Martha "Marty" Steffens, University of Missouri Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) endowed chair; and Mercedes Vigón, associate director of the International Media Center at Florida International University (FIU).

"These two exceptional journalists and educators will add depth and reach to the IPI North American Committee's board," said John Yearwood, North American Committee chair, newly elected vice chair of IPIs executive board, and world editor of The Miami Herald. "I'm incredibly honoured to have them as part of the NAC's leadership team."

Other members of the NAC board include Stuart Loory, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri and former CNN vice president; Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times; John Daniszewski, vice president and senior managing editor/international news at The Associated Press; Robert Beatty, publisher of The South Florida Times; Rochelle Riley, columnist at The Detroit Free Press; Ryan Blethen, director of new product strategies at The Seattle Times; Phil Gailey, former editorial editor and vice president of The St. Petersburg Times, and Mary Jo Meisner, vice president for communications, community relations and public affairs at the Boston Foundation. Simon Li, former vice chair of the IPI executive board, is the organisation's chairman emeritus.

The NAC is a national committee of the Vienna-based IPI, a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists dedicated to the furthering and safeguarding of press freedom, protecting freedom of opinion and expression, promoting the free flow of news and information, and improving the practice of journalism. IPI was founded at Columbia University in New York in 1950. It has members from more than 120 countries.

The NAC is among the oldest and most influential of IPI’s 21 national committees. It covers the United States and Canada. IPI also has national committees in Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nigeria, Slovakia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Germany, India, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.

"On behalf of IPI’s secretariat, its board of directors and other national committee chairs, I congratulate Martha and Mercedes on their appointments to the NAC board," IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. "We are thrilled to have such talented and enthusiastic individuals join the NAC board. They will strengthen the committee’s activities throughout North America as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, just as they have done through their engagement with the secretariat over the past year."

Background of the new board members

Martha Steffens teaches business and financial journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism where she is the SABEW endowed chair. She also organizes seminars for business journalism professionals. She assumed the chair in 2002 after a 30-year career in newspapers, including service as executive editor of The San Francisco Examiner and, earlier, The Press & Sun Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y.

For four years, she worked with Colombian journalists, helping them plan community-based projects. In summer 2002, she was the professional in residence at the Moscow Press Development Institute, training Russian journalists in newspaper management.

"The North American Committee will continue to be vigilant to make sure press freedom is upheld in our region as well," Steffens said. "Recent events reaffirm that even in the U.S. the press has restrictions. We are already beginning to plan an event for this winter to assist Caribbean journalists in understanding how to remain a watchdog of business and politics."

Mercedes Vigón, Ph.D., is associate director of the International Media Center and an associate professor of journalism at Florida International University. Vigón is a native of Spain. She has trained journalists in Mexico, Nicaragua and Paraguay, and has worked as a TV news director for Net Financial News. She was also an executive producer and international writer for CBS Telenoticias. She speaks Spanish, French and English.

In April, Vigón conducted media ethics training in the Dominican Republic on behalf of IPI during its press freedom mission there.

"I am honoured to join the IPI-North American Committee Board," Vigón said. "As I traveled with the IPI mission throughout the Caribbean, I was reminded once again that safeguarding freedom of the press is an everlasting battle. The work of IPI in supporting, and in many cases leading these struggles is key to providing the unity, strength and moral authority that encourages us to continue this battle."

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