The University of Florida has announced that news industry veteran Janet Coats has been named managing director of the Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology (CTMT), a multidisciplinary initiative launched to understand the dynamics that have undermined the trustworthiness of content and information disseminated via technology.
Coats has been at the forefront of the seismic shifts in journalism and information culture over the last 25 years. She’s led large multimedia news organizations, done groundbreaking work in civic engagement and reader outreach, and built her own consulting company focused on engagement and sustainability strategies for non-profit and entrepreneurial news organizations.
“We are excited that an executive with Janet’s background will lead this ‘moonshot’ initiative for the University of Florida,” said Diane McFarlin, dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications, the lead partner of the Consortium. “Janet’s experience and insights will help us build the Consortium into one of the premier institutes addressing the critical erosion of trust in media and technology.”
As the Consortium’s inaugural leader, Coats will be responsible for the management and administration of the program, including facilitating research and operational collaborations, fundraising in both the private and governmental sectors, developing grants and fellowship programs, and developing an infrastructure to support Consortium scholars. She also will work with UF faculty to connect the work of CTMT with curriculum and recruit graduate and undergraduate student involvement in the Consortium.
"I've spent a career as a journalist believing in the power of information to bring us together,” Coats said. “Now we live in the midst of a trust crisis, where false and misleading information intended to drive us apart is always only a click away. The Consortium on Trust in Media and Technology represents a powerful opportunity to untangle the threats to an informed society and help us act to combat them. I’m thrilled to take on the work of helping the Consortium rise to the challenge."
Coats currently serves as executive director for innovation and strategy at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. In that role, she has oversight of the school’s media literacy efforts through its News Co/Lab, the News21 national student reporting program, faculty teaching associates and grant acquisition for sponsored research.
Prior to joining Arizona State, Coats was founder and CEO of Coats2Coats Consulting in Sarasota, Florida, an independent consulting firm focused on helping clients create relevant content, develop community engagement and outreach strategies, and build business plans focused on both philanthropic and earned revenue. She worked with non-profit newsrooms, both public media and entrepreneurial startups, to develop content strategies, engagement and transparency methodology and revenue diversification approaches.
From 1994–2009, Coats held leadership positions at several news organizations, including senior vice president of news and executive editor for The News Center in Tampa, Florida, and executive editor of the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune. From 2003-2004, she served as dean of the faculty of the Poynter Institute, a professional training school for journalists and communication professionals.
Coats served as a Pulitzer Prize juror five times, including as chair of the Public Service and Investigative Reporting juries. She served on the board of the American Society of News Editors, twice chairing the national convention.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.