Amy S. McCombs
- University of Missouri at Columbia
- Columbia, Mo
- Personal Website
Amy McCombs will apply her media management experience to the exploration of sustainable business models, to the innovative application of emerging technologies, and the impact the models and technologies will have on a free press.
Professor McCombs, experienced as a chief executive with board experience in the media, higher education, and nonprofit sectors, became the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies in fall 2010. Joining in a part-time capacity she will become full-time in fall 2011.
McCombs spent the majority of her career in media with executive management responsibilities at both the Chronicle Publishing Company in San Francisco and the Broadcast Division of the Washington Post Company. The broadcast, cable, and Internet properties she managed were all recipients of the industry’s major journalism awards and recognitions.
McCombs serves on the Board of Media Convergence Group, a digital media innovator combining news content with emerging technologies including social media, online video, mobile distribution, and search. She is actively engaged with MCG’s digital media start-up, Newsy.com, a multi-perspective online video news site that monitors, synthesizes and presents the world's news.
McCombs has been included in the San Francisco Business Times 50 Most Influential Business Women in the Bay Area and is the recipient of numerous media awards and honors including the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism and the First Amendment Freedom Award from B'Nai Brith Anti-Defamation League.
McCombs is actively involved in professional associations as well as national and local cultural organizations. She has spoken extensively at conferences and symposia on technology and the media. McCombs holds a master's degree in journalism and bachelor's degrees in political science and journalism, all from the University of Missouri. McCombs continued her education at the senior executive program of Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the National Association of Broadcasters General Management Program at the Harvard Business School, Harvard University.
Because stable democracies require a free-press system and because the need for citizens to understand their free-press rights is greater than ever before, the Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies shall be established. The Chair shall focus on teaching and scholarship on free-press issues as they affect the citizens of democratic societies, recognizing that citizens need to learn about their rights and how to use them.
The Lee Hills Chair shall keep its sight on the important goal of helping citizens understand that, while the First Amendment and other protections of free expression benefit the media, the ultimate and most important beneficiaries of a free press are the citizens of democratic societies. The Chair shall conduct a program of teaching, research and dissemination aimed at illuminating and explaining the importance of free-press issues and policies to individual citizens of democratic societies.
Professor McCombs worked in 2011 to expand the audiences for the Global Journalist. Long serving the journalism profession, the Global Journalist magazine and radio program have examined freedom of expression issues worldwide. During 2010-2011 the Global Journalist expanded its reach to a larger public through digital and social media platforms and the introduction of community outreach programs and live events. This shift from exclusive traditional media to multiplatform/digital media required a revision of the undergraduate and graduate courses related to the converged media enterprise. The course, “Global News Across Platforms” now gives the students an opportunity to fine-tune their 21st century journalism skills as they address global issues for a global audience and as they explore the challenges to free expression around the world.
In April 2011, the Lee Hills Chair and the Missouri School of Journalism partnered with the East-West Center in a program funded by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. The program was an exchange of U.S. and Pakistani journalists. The program for the Pakistanis was designed to increase their knowledge of the U.S. and to explore journalism principles and the role of media in society. In addition to focusing on these issues, workshops were developed to explore the changing media landscape and the ways traditional media are adapting to the major restructuring of the media business. After evaluating the results of the program, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad granted funding to continue the exchange for another three years.
In September 2011 the Lee Hills Chair and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) Chair in Business and Financial Journalism at Missouri Journalism School released a report entitled “Media and Money.” The report was published by The International Press Institute of Vienna, Austria, and was distributed at its Annual Congress in Taipei where over 400 journalists and media executives were in attendance. The report examined the global economic crisis, the impact of digital technology and the challenges to independent media. The Lee Hills Chair’s article covered the FCC’s recent report on information needs of communities in the broadband age and the impact public policy can have on local journalism.
Question-and-Answer with Knight Chair
What disturbs you most about journalism today? What excites you most?
Professor McCombs thinks it has become clear that the news industry is not in control of its future. She sees this as a concern but also an opportunity. “It is the age of the consumer and the opportunity is tied to the use and impact of data in today’s networked world,” she said. “I agree with the Pew State of the Media 2011 comment, ‘That knowledge, and the expertise in gathering (data) increasingly resides with technology companies outside journalism.’”
Should universities expand their role as community content providers? How?
Professor McCombs does believe journalism schools should expand their role as community content providers. She points to the recent Knight-New American Foundation report “Shaping 21st Century Journalism,” which makes a number of recommendations including one that encourages partnerships by journalism schools to cover state capitals. Starting 20 years ago mainstream media began walking away from on-going coverage of statewide issues. Journalism schools are well poised to fill this gap, she feels.