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Source: Angela Powers, 785-532-3963, apowers@k-state.edu
http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/powersbio.html
News release prepared by: Greg Tammen, 785-532-2535, gtammen@k-state.edu

Friday, April 22, 2011

JOURNALISM SCHOOL DIRECTOR HELPING GUIDE EGYPTIAN, MIDDLE EASTERN MEDIA FOR NEW TOMORROW

MANHATTAN -- More than political freedom is at stake in the Middle East revolutions. Also on the line is freedom of the press and freedom of speech, according to Angela Powers, director of Kansas State University's A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

"All eyes are on the Middle East," Powers said. "So as changes come about, it's important to have accurate information. For Egypt and other countries in the region, objectivity and free speech are new entities."

Powers' research is focused on how news content changes in emerging democracies, comparing developments in Egypt today to developments in the 1990s in Lithuania, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Powers is currently a research fellow at the Media Management and Transformation Center at Jonkoping University in Sweden. The center is considered a world leader in media management and economics. As part of the appointment, Powers is also returning to Lithuania to lecture on business models in media.

In 2010 Powers went to Egypt to work with media professionals promoting transparency in management. "We had no idea the revolution was about to take place," she said.

Now as Egyptian media transitions to privatization, many outlets are looking for guidance on new procedures like advertising and subscription pricing.

"Some of what we consider as basics and have been studied since the 1950s in our country are just being introduced in these regions," Powers said.

For example, Al-Ahram, Egypt's largest newspaper, employs more than 10,000 people in one city -- a number significantly higher than the largest papers in the U.S. If Al-Ahram wants to compete, it has to reduce its operational costs, she said.

"Mubarak is gone but the people who have controlled the newspapers for years are still in charge, so change has been marginal," Powers said. "But reporters say they're using sources and covering issues as never before, and they don't want to regress."

Powers is also researching media business models in a digital world. For example, the New York Times has begun charging for online usage and other media are also looking for new revenue streams, she said.

"Research indicates youths get more than 70 percent of their news through social media and for free," she said. "That's challenging business models and forcing firms to adapt to these new consumer attitudes about online media. It's an incredible change for businesses.

"I'm very positive it's going to work out," Powers said. "We're in a period of transition and there's a great deal of experimenting going on."

Powers has been teaching and researching media management for 25 years. A research paper she wrote was accepted for presentation at International Communication Association this spring.