Benton Foundation Moves to Expand Communications News and Analysis Service

Editor's note: The big news in Washington continues to be the government shutdown, an issue we looked at last week. So today we share some news from the Benton Foundation.

The Benton Foundation announces that Rebecca Ellis has joined the organization as Writing Associate for the foundation’s Headlines service. Ellis will report directly to Kevin Taglang, who has recently been promoted to Executive Editor. Since 1996, the Benton Foundation has provided free, daily summaries of articles from the consumer and trade press concerning the quickly-changing communications policy landscape. Taglang will focus on creating new content and resources for Benton’s readers.

Ellis has worked as a freelance international correspondent, writer, producer and content strategist with a background in investigative reporting, business accountability research, broadcast journalism, and translation/website localization. She obtained her M.S. degree in Journalism at Columbia University. Prior to Columbia, she completed a graduate program in Media Communications at the Polytechnic University of Berlin in Germany, interned at Democracy Now!, and worked for six months as a senior research consultant in Mexico City. In 2009, she traveled to Chile to write her master’s thesis on the topic of dissenting news media and telecommunications in Chile during and after the Pinochet dictatorship. Rebecca is fluent in German, Spanish and her native language, English.

With over 18 years of experience in the field, Taglang has led Benton’s work monitoring, analyzing and articulating the public interest stake in telecommunications legislation, regulation, and policymaking. Previously, Taglang was Senior Policy Analyst at the foundation, working on educating and engaging the nonprofit sector in communications policy debates. Taglang holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago and, from Northwestern University, a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with a focus on Telecommunications Science, Management and Policy.

Just last month, the Benton Foundation unveiled a service to track the debate about modernizing the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate program, which discounts communications services for schools and libraries. Benton offers a convenient, “one stop shop” for links to the latest news, research, analysis, events, and FCC filings surrounding this new initiative. The service mirrors an ongoing effort by Benton to track implementation of the National Broadband Plan released by the FCC in 2010. Taglang also writes a weekly roundup aimed at nonprofit executives which capsulizes the most important developments in the field.

As manager of Benton’s Digital Beat blog, Taglang will expand the number of voices participating in debates on what communications “in the public interest” means in the Digital Age. Former Federal Communications Commissioner and current Common Cause executive Michael Copps writes a monthly op-ed. Benton will soon add new, regular contributors to its blog.

To help guide Benton’s effort to expand its communications news and analysis services, the foundation announced that Robert A. Cohen recently joined its Board of Directors. Cohen is a leading media management consultant with extensive executive and operations experience. He specializes in developing profitable business strategies for existing digital and print businesses, launching and repositioning media brands, integrating print and digital media, and improving subscription, membership, and retail sales for websites, magazines, newspapers, newsletters and other properties. Cohen has particular expertise with early-stage print and digital businesses, as well as in-depth knowledge of entrepreneurial companies’ approaches to sharpening their competitive edge and reaching their next level of growth through the design and implementation of new content, ad sales, and circulation strategies. Over almost 40 years, he has worked with Rodale Press, Scientific American, Esquire, American Heritage, Scholastic, Audubon, Mondadori (Milan), Groupe Expansion (Paris), International Herald Tribune, New England Journal of Medicine, and Harvard Business Review. He has also held executive positions at LPI Media, the publishing arm of PlanetOut, Inc., Primedia Consumer Magazines, and The New Republic, among others.

“The Benton Foundation now has the right people and the right tools in place,” said Executive Director Adrianne Furniss, “to deliver to communications policymakers and advocates the news and analysis they need to advance discussions that ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy.”

The Benton Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting communication in the public interest. These comments reflect the institutional view of the Foundation and, unless obvious from the text, are not intended to reflect the views of individual Foundation officers, directors, or advisors.