Adam Clayton Powell III is the Director of Washington Policy Initiatives at the University of Southern California (USC). Previously he was Director of the Integrated Media Systems Center, the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for multimedia research, at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. He is also a Senior Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and was USC’s Vice Provost for Globalization before his current poition.
Prior to joining the USC faculty in 2003 as a Visiting Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, he was General Manager of WHUT-TV, the nation’s first African American-owned public television station, adding several hours per week of local prime time news and public affairs programming. He also was the founding General Manager of KMTP-TV in San Francisco, the nation’s second African American-owned public television station, which he helped put on the air in 1991.
Before joining WHUT-TV, Powell helped form and then run the Internet and computer media technology programs over a period of fifteen years at the Freedom Forum, as a consultant (1985-1994), then Director (1994-1996) and finally Vice President/Technology and Programs (1996-2001), supervising forums in around the world on information technologies and new media for journalists, media managers, educators, policy makers and researchers.
Powell also served as an Executive Producer at Quincy Jones Entertainment, where he produced Jesse Jackson’s weekly television series (1990-1991) and developed nonfiction television projects; Vice President/News and Information programming at National Public Radio (1987-90); a Manager of network radio and television news for CBS News (1976-81), and News Director of all-news WINS (1973-76) in New York, introducing the 22-minute news format.
Powell has extensive experience in Africa, most recently supervising a team of USC graduate students in South Africa in the summer of 2004. Previously, he conducted Freedom Forum technology training programs in all parts of the continent, from Cairo to Cape Town and from Accra to Nairobi, planned and supervised the 1993-94 National Association of Black Journalists exchange program with South Africa and worked with Nigeria’s television authority in the 1980’s to upgrade its engineering and journalism broadcasts.
Powell has written for publications including The New York Times, Wired, Online Journalism Review and Black Issues in Higher Education. He is the author of Reinventing Local News: Connecting Communities through New Technologies (Figueroa Press, 2006) and co-author of Lethargy ‘96: How the Media Covered a Listless Campaign (Freedom Forum, 1996). He has also contributed to several recent books, including America’s Dialogue with the World (Public Diplomacy Council, 2006), Democracy and New Media (MIT Press, 2003), Digital Journalism: Emerging Media and the Changing Horizons of Journalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications (Elsevier Science, 2002), The Digital Divide: Facing a Crisis or Creating a Myth? (MIT Press, 2001), Electronic Democracy: Using the Internet to Influence American Politics (2nd edition) (Independent Publishers, 2001), NextMedia Reader: New Technology and the American Newsroom (American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1999), The Internet for Broadcasters (Sypha, 1996), Radio: the Forgotten Medium (Transaction, 1995), Death by Cheeseburger: High School Journalism in the 1990’s and Beyond (Freedom Forum, 1994) and Demystifying Media Technology (Mayfield, 1993).
Powell has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on public diplomacy and new technology. He also helped launch the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and taught its first course, International Broadcasting, in 2004.
Among the awards Powell has won are the 2004 Award for Network TV and Major Market Commentary from the National Association of Black Journalists for his weekly commentaries on WHUT-TV in Washington; the 1999 World Technology Award for Media and Journalism sponsored by The Economist magazine; the Overseas Press Club Award for international reporting for a series of broadcasts he produced on Iran; and Associated Press Awards for regional reporting for coverage of New York City. In 2004, Powell was named one of America’s “Digital 100” leaders by Digital Media magazine.