Barbara Cochran Exiting RTNDA

Retiring in June 2009 after 12 years with the association

Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran will retire in June 2009 after 12 years with the association.

She will continue on as a consultant to the group and as president emeritus. The RTNDA board has already begun to look for a successor.

RTNDA Chairman Ed Esposito praised Cochran for her defense of the First Amendment and commitment to journalistic ethics, among other things. 

"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.” 

Cochran assured B&C she would continue to be involved in journalism and First Amendment issues. Cochran called it "a good time" to try something different, saying she had informed the board of her decision and it had asked she stay on to consult. She said there would be a strategic plan in place for the organization's future before she leaves. "It is a good time to step down."

Among RTDNA's successes under Cochran were pushing for the sunsetting of the last vestiges of the Fairness Doctrine--the personal attack and political editorializing rules--and the Supreme Court's decision in 2000, after requests from RTNDA and others, to allow immediate release of the tapes in the hanging chad case.

RTNDA also pushed for the successful passage of a bill reforming oversight and response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Most recently, the group has called on President-Elect Barack Obama to reverse some of the Bush administrations policies on widespread classification--RTNDA and others would argue "overclassification"--of information.

Cochran joined RTNDA in 1997 from CBS News, where she was that network's, and any broadcast network's, first female bureau chief, according to RTNDA. Her resume also includes executive producer of NBC's Meet the Press, a news VP at NPR and managing editor of The Washington Star.

Cochran would have a hard time disentangling herself from journalism issues even if she wanted to. She is married to John Cochran, veteran ABC News correspondent.