Dean Ernest J. Wilson III congratulates USC Annenberg’s Class of 2013

Dean Wilson addresses the Annenberg class of 2013. He says, “This is a wonderful time to be going out into the world of media, entertainment, [and] communications.” Watch Video »

Dean Wilson moderates the Google LA Speaker Series event featuring Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen

On May 9, 2013, Wilson moderated a “Google LA Speaker Series” event featuring Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. Schmidt is Google’s Executive Chairman and Cohen is the director of the think / do tank, Google Ideas. The event was on the occasion of the duo’s new book, “The New Digital Age.”

USC Annenberg Dean Wilson Talks Up The Corporation For Public Broadcasting’s Future

Neon Tommy, Annenberg Digital News, interviewed Ernest Wilson about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, his former role and accomplishments on the Board, and what lies ahead for CPB. Read More »

White House Summit on Tech Inclusion

Joining other leaders from the public, private and non-profit sector, Dean Wilson participated in the “White House Summit on Tech Inclusion”, held in Washington DC January 31.  Bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners from around the country, the summit was held under the auspices of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Office of Public Engagement and a non-profit sponsored by Silicon Valley legend Mitch Kapor, The Level Playing Institute.  On behalf of President Obama, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Valerie Jarrett offered the keynote address emphasizing the importance of  inclusion and diversity in America’s drive to greater achievements in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM). The administration’s Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and other leaders addressed this same theme, and five private groups described concrete projects they have launched to promote inclusive STEM-based activities.

Exclusion and Inequality in Digital Societies: Theories, Evidence, and Strategy

In November 2012, Ernest Wilson delivered the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. See videos below from the three-part lecture series, Exclusion and Inequality in Digital Societies: Theories, Evidence, and Strategy.

11/27/12 @4pm “What the Transition to a Digital Society Means for Those at the Bottom”


11/28/12 @ 4pm “Policy Responses to Digital Inequality: Beyond Economics”


Los Angeles: From The Past To The Future, Through Collaboration An Address To The ‘La N Sync’ Launch Event, “Working Together To Improve Community Life”

 Ernest J. Wilson III, Dean, And Walter H. Annenberg Chair, Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism, University Of Southern California; February 29, 2013


Well, a talking frying fish is a tough act to follow! I want to thank Leonard Aube for pairing me with a talking frying fish! But seriously, I want to congratulate Leonard and his ‘A’ team, and of course Wallis Annenberg, for their commitment to bring all of us together today to launch an important new initiative.

But the video does nicely capture something important about the spirit of today’s event. L.A. really is the creative capital of the world. It’s the leader in new digital industries – such as the one that produced this video. And it’s one of the most diverse cities anywhere.

Los Angeles is definitely America in fast-forward, a glimpse of the future happening now. Only, that future is not evenly distributed. Research shows pretty clearly that the cities and regions around the world that are best able to harness the creativity and the hard work of their multiple professional and ethnic communities are winning the global competition for investment and high quality growth. The urban collaborators are the winners. Think of Silicon Valley, Route 128 around Boston, or Washington D.C.’s Dulles Corridor. Or, for that matter, think of Bangalore or Beijing.

Research also shows that the secret sauce for the success of these areas is the mindful, strategic expansion of communication – and collaboration – across four key communities. These communities are the government sector, the private sector, the education sector and the non-profit sector. Collaboration across these four sectors – call it a kind of “quad” – is a major determinant of success.

This should be L.A.’s secret sauce, too. Look around the room. All the potential for world-class communication and collaboration is right here today. The leaders are here, the ideas are here and we hope the commitments are here. And we’ve just started. We can become even more of a political and economic laboratory, an incubator, an accelerator for progressive policies and ideas to advance this city. We can show the rest of the world what a successful future can look like in the 21st century.

Of course, Los Angeles is a totally unique, wonderful, eccentric city. Yet too often we fail to match our ambitions with our true advantages and our resources. Too often we fail to work that quad. This is the great challenge and the great opportunity that brings us together today. A sage observer once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” That’s what LA n Sync is all about – collaborating to invent our own common future, making it happen here and now.

This is not just some nice thing to do, not some storybook tale. This is an economic and political imperative. Arguably, Los Angeles is at the threshold of a critical choice about its future. We’ve seen too many corporate headquarters in aerospace and other industries leave the region. And yet at the same time we have let too many new funding and investment opportunities slip thru our fingers – sometimes wasting our energy and reducing our chances for success by failing to collaborate.

We end up working against one another competing for federal scraps. Yet at the end of the day, we are all connected. We succeed together, we fail together. We have got to find ways to invent and build a new future for Los Angeles, expanding the pie for everybody instead of fighting over crumbs.

Let’s face it, and as you will hear shortly, there’s a lot of money at stake. Hundreds of millions of dollars – money we can use to build the L.A. we all want. In many ways, as others will describe shortly, we are already heading toward that future as more venture capital firms and start-ups move here.

But if there is a utopian vision we want to pursue, there is also a dystopian vision we need to avoid. Our good future is not guaranteed. I lived for many years just outside of Detroit, in Ann Arbor. I saw up close and personal what happens when civic leadership fails to innovate, when they allow the past to devour the future. In Detroit today, they are considering whether to remove stoplights in order to encourage people to abandon blighted areas and therefore shrink the size of the center city.

I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but all of us today – and our children and grandchildren – have a lot to lose if we don’t act. Acting is always risky, but in this era of disruptive, turbulent and constant technological change and globalization, not acting is even riskier. We can’t let that dystopian future happen here.

So, LA n Sync is a unique effort to work differently, to come together as one civic community, to invent and create a new bright future. LA n Sync provides a vehicle through which we can create a paradigm shift to go more aggressively after every dollar – whether that money flows from Washington, Wall Street, Sand Hill Road, or anywhere.

But futures don’t get invented unless the leadership steps forward to craft them. We need leaders willing to empower their organizations and their colleagues to act on this collaborative vision. Today we will hear from perhaps just such leaders. These leaders hale from multiple communities and they will share ideas for charting the way forward by describing the positive achievements of the present. We’ll hear a range of perspectives – public, private and non-profit – communicated across our usual silos of sector and urban spaces, hopefully getting us all, yes, in sync.

LA n Sync will be a grand experiment and those of you here today will determine if the old divisions can be put behind us in order to create a bright and better future. So let the experiment begin.

Thank you very much. Now let us hear from our mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Let’s roll the tape!


Dean Wilson writes about the second wave of the digital divide

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III wrote about possible solutions to the problem of declining minority media ownership and positions of senior leadership in a Feb. 17 article in The Root. Dean Wilson wrote about the “scissors effect” of black consumption rising as black control simultaneously declines. “There is a lot of responsibility and work to go around,” he wrote. “But we all must start by recognizing that the scissors effect can cut deeply and permanently if we don’t take steps now to protect and nurture our American future. This is not a black or white issue. This is an American issue.” Read More »

Dean Wilson outlines plans for USC Annenberg in PBS MediaShift Q-and-A

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III described the USC Annenberg School’s recent additions, impending growth, and plans for the future in an in-depth PBS MediaShift Q-and-A on Jan. 18 with Mark Glaser.  “What I feel really good about is building on this inherited combinations of different disciplines and professions and looking very hard for synergies and places where journalism and communication and public relations and strategic communication can work together,” Dean Wilson said. “That’s what gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction — that we’re well on the way to doing that. I’ll give you a couple examples: We’ve created the Innovation Lab, and we’re going to create what I call the Experimental School.”

Chairs and Memberships

  • Fellow, National Academy of Public Administration, 2013
  • Co-Chair, Us-China Bi-National Commission on Trust Building 2012
  • Chair, Appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Panel on Fostering Innovation and Promoting Diversity in the Foreign Service and the Department of State, 2012
  • Chair, Committee on the Future of the Communication Field, Social Science Research Council, 2012
  • Director, Talent 21, addressing the MCE Talent Crisis Project, 2011-Present
  • Co-Principal Investigator, Federal Communications Commission “Defining Diversity in the Digital Age” 2011-2012
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on US Policy in the Digital Agenda, 2012
  • Member, Board of Directors, Pacific Council on International Affairs, 2010-Present
  • Chair, Board of Directors, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 2009

Dean Wilson delivers three-day W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture Series on technology disparities at Harvard, Nov. 27-29, 2012

“The number of African-Americans and other people of color in positions of senior leadership and ownership of media properties is either stagnant or declining, ” Dean Wilson said. “We should care about this because we are citizens and these are matters of the life and death of democracy.” How would scholar, writer, editor and civil rights pioneer, W.E.B. Du Bois, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University, react and think about this new digital divide?