Barbara Cochran to Step Down from RTNDA

By Chris Ariens Comment

Cochran.jpgLongtime president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, Barbara Cochran, is retiring from the organization next year. Cochran joined the RTNDA in 1997 from CBS News, where she was Washington bureau chief.

“I’m honored to have had the privilege of leading this historic organization and speaking out on behalf of electronic journalists for the past 12 years,” Cochran said in a press release. Cochran is married to ABC News correspondent John Cochran.

Highlights of Cochran’s tenure include the conclusion of the RTNDA’s battle to abolish the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, and, upon the request of the RTNDA and others, immediate access to the audio recordings of the Supreme Court arguments in Bush v. Gore — the 2000 presidential election case.

The press release is after the jump…

RTNDA President Barbara Cochran to Retire in June 2009

Barbara Cochran will retire as president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association in June 2009, it was announced today. She will continue to serve as a consultant to the organization with the title of president emeritus.

RTNDA Chairman Ed Esposito said the Board of Directors has begun the process to seek a successor to continue RTNDA’s transformation as one of the preeminent associations and advocates on behalf of electronic journalists.

By the time she retires from RTNDA, Cochran will have served as president for 12 years. During her tenure, she made defending the First Amendment rights of electronic journalists a top priority. She also emphasized upholding standards of ethics and excellence and promoting professional development.

“Barbara Cochran’s leadership took RTNDA’s advocacy on behalf of electronic journalists to a new level, especially in the fight to preserve hard-fought First Amendment gains and protections,” Esposito said. “Barbara’s stand for strong ethical practices and journalistic excellence help set a standard for our industry.”

He especially noted Cochran’s success in opening the U.S. Supreme Court to the release of selected audio recordings as one of the many highlights of her association career. “RTNDA’s Board and membership owe Barbara great thanks in helping to position the association and foundation to transform as well as transition as we determine our strategies to keep those interests at the forefront in this time of great challenge and opportunity,” Esposito added.

“I’m honored to have had the privilege of leading this historic organization and speaking out on behalf of electronic journalists for the past 12 years,” Cochran said. “The most rewarding part of this job has been meeting the terrific people working in this business and making friendships that I hope will last for many years to come. I’m looking forward to staying involved with RTNDA and continuing to support excellent, independent journalism.”

Highlights of Cochran’s tenure include the successful conclusion of RTNDA’s 20-year battle to abolish the last vestiges of the Federal Communications Commission’s Fairness Doctrine, the personal attack and political editorializing rules. In response to requests from RTNDA and others, the Supreme Court for the first time in history allowed the news media immediate access to the audio recording of the arguments in the 2000 presidential election dispute. RTNDA was part of a coalition that won the most sweeping reform of the Freedom of Information Act in 40 years. Cochran led other FOI efforts ranging from battling the National Football League over game access for local stations to fighting for passage of a federal shield law.

RTNDA revised its Code of Ethics and produced dozens of guidelines on challenging issues. To promote best practices, RTNDA raised the profile of the Edward R. Murrow Awards, expanded them to include online journalism and began recognizing excellence in coverage of diversity through the RTNDA/UNITY Awards. RTNDA’s monthly magazine, Communicator, was redesigned and became the top-rated member benefit and was launched. Professional development programs offered by RTNDF were expanded to include leadership skills, ethical decision-making and preparation for a terrorism attack.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attack on America caused the cancellation of the 2001 RTNDA Convention. Cochran and the RTNDA Board and staff worked to recover the losses and repay members and exhibitors. In 2002, RTNDA partnered with the National Association of Broadcasters to hold its convention with the NAB in Las Vegas and give RTNDA members access to the world’s largest exhibition of electronic media. In 2006, RTNDA launched the Cutting Edge track with sessions on the latest trends and techniques in digital journalism.

Cochran came to RTNDA in 1997 from CBS News, where she was Washington bureau chief, the first woman to hold that position for a television network. Earlier in her career she was executive producer of Meet the Press, vice president for news at National Public Radio and managing editor of the Washington Star.

She has received the Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award, the American Women in Radio and Television Award for Allied Services, the University of Georgia’s DiGamma Kappa Society Distinguished Achievement Award in Broadcasting and the Matrix Foundation’s Edith Wortman First Amendment Award.

Cochran is married to John Cochran, senior correspondent for ABC News.