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USC Annenberg's Media Center Named For Julie Chen, Leslie Moonves And CBS

Will Federman |
February 25, 2015 | 6:43 p.m. PST


Student journalists from USC Anennberg woke up this morning and went to work, but found themselves a part of the news—instead of just covering it. Media professionals and big-name guests packed the lobby of Wallis Annenberg Hall, anxiously standing by a banner of svelte, black fabric that obscured the exterior of Neon Tommy's production offices in mystery for much of the week. School officials eased the suspense shortly after 3:30 p.m., announcing that thanks to a generous gift, the student media wing would be officially christened the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center.

“This generous gift from Julie Chen and Les Moonves prepares today’s communication and journalism students for the world of tomorrow by mastering cross-discipline technology in a real-world setting,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “The new Chen/Moonves and CBS Media Center is the centerpiece of innovation in a building, the Wallis Annenberg Hall, that represents innovative thinking.”

Wallis Annenberg Hall officially opened its doors on Oct. 1, 2014, placing all of USC Annenberg's award-winning media outlets—Neon Tommy, ARN, ATVN, Impact and Intersections—under one roof. The 20,000-square foot, two-story Media Center is the beating heart of the school's new $59 million building, empowering journalism and communication students to create digital, video and audio content across multiple platforms.

READ MORE: Why Does Wallis Annenberg Hall Have a Firepole?

“My hope is that everyone who uses the Julie Chen/Les Moonves and CBS Media Center views this as a starting point,” said Wallis Annenberg, whose foundation donated $50 million toward the construction of Wallis Annenberg Hall. “As the media landscape evolves, we want the media center to evolve as well. Staying cutting-edge is an ongoing journey, one that has no destination.”

“We need students, faculty, and front-line journalists as well to help us lean into the future, so we can train the next generation of journalists and communicators for the world they’ll actually be working and leading in.”

Both Chen and Moonves have deep ties to USC. Chen earned her broadcast journalism degree from USC Annenberg in 1991 and Moonves is a member of of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Board of Councilors. Chen currently moderates the daytime show "The Talk," and has hosted fifteen consecutive seasons of "Big Brother." Moonves, Chen's husband, is president and CEO of CBS.

“After visiting the campus and seeing the impressive Wallis Annenberg Hall for the first time, I was inspired to support my alma mater and prouder than ever to be a Trojan,” Chen said. 

“Spending time with the bright, engaged students I’ve met at USC Annenberg—and seeing these cutting-edge studios and workspaces come to life—energized and motivated me to be involved and hopefully make an impact on future generations of journalists and communicators.”

Both USC Annenberg Director of Journalism Willow Bay and Dean Ernest J. Wilson III were on-hand to help emcee festivities, and celebrate the generous gift. For Wilson, the Julie Chen/Les Moonves and CBS Media Center represents the next frontier for student journalists. “As the digital media revolution pushes ahead, our new building and production laboratories of the Media Center are uniquely prepared to build the next generation of communicators,” said Wilson.

“The entire USC Annenberg family of students, faculty, alumni and staff extend our great thanks to Julie Chen, Les Moonves and CBS. This extraordinary gift is just the latest example of Julie and Les’ longtime and ongoing collaboration with our school.”

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