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 Opening Session and President's Forum


Archaeology and the Media: A Symbiotic Relationship

Opening Session and President’s Forum
Co-Sponsored by SAA and the National Geographic Society
Society for American Archaeology 77th Annual Meeting
Memphis, TN

Room: Ballroom A in the Memphis Cook Convention Center
Wednesday April 18, 6:30-8:30 PM 

Archaeology and the Media have a special symbiotic relationship. Archaeological discoveries around the globe provide science journalists with a steady source of stories of wide public appeal. Archaeologists rely on media to extend the reach of their work and its significance to a wider audience. On the other hand, the relationship between the media and archaeology is often fraught with miscommunication and lost opportunities. A panel of prominent science journalists representing various media (television, radio, popular and scientific journals, and newspapers) and archaeologists with extensive experience in media relations explore this complicated relationship and how to improve it.


Mark Bauman is Senior Vice President of Content Development for National Geographic Mission Programs, and Executive Vice President of National Geographic Television, overseeing music and natural history series for PBS, NGC, and NGCI, as well as National Geographic's radio and web video production. He has been recognized with numerous broadcast and print journalism honors, including an Emmy, more than a dozen Cine Golden Eagles, and various film festival awards.

W. Fredrick (Fred) Limp is the President of the Society for American Archaeology and the Leica Geosystems Chair and University Professor in Geosciences, Anthropology and Environmental Dynamics at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville.








Melinda Zeder is Senior Scientist, Program in Human Ecology, and archaeobiology Curator, Old World Archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. 











Michael Balter is a Contributing Correspondent for Science Magazine and Adjunct Professor of Journalism at New York University. He covers archaeology and human evolution and occasionally travel and food. In addition to regular contributions to Science, his work has appeared inThe Smithsonian, National Geographic, the International Herald Tribune, Islands, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Traveler, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications.





Hannah Bloch is Mission Projects editor at National Geographic Magazine, where she monitors the work of NGS-funded scientists and explorers studying a wide range of topics including the ancient world, paleontology, wildlife, and conservation. Prior to working at the magazine, she was the senior producer of National Geographic World Talk, a weekly public radio program featuring interviews with explorers and scientists in the field. Bloch came to National Geographic from Time Magazine, where she was a science and medicine reporter in New York and a general assignment reporter in Washington before being named Time's first fulltime correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While serving as Time's correspondent, she also opened CNN's Islamabad bureau and was its first bureau chief.


David Braun directs the National Geographic website's Daily News, Environment and Science content. A daily news journalist for 35 years, covering science, environment, technology, business, and politics for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and online news services, his former positions included political correspondent for The Star (Johannesburg, South Africa), Washington bureau chief for Africa's largest newspaper group (Independent Newspapers), Washington Correspondent for CMP Media's TechWeb, and Public Affairs Editor for the National Geographic Society.


  Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh (pronounced: chawn-ta-pone) is Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He sits on the editorial board of American Anthropologist, among other journals, and currently is co-editor of Museum Anthropology. He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has authored and edited eight books. He is a recipient of several prizes, including the National Council on Public History Book Award and the Gordon R. Willey Prize of the American Anthropological Association, Archaeology Division. In recent years, Chip has explored ways to reach a broader public, using traditional media such as newspaper op-eds as well as new digital media such as online multimedia outlets.





Jason De León is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on issues of human migration, violence, suffering, and material culture. Since 2008, he has directed the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term analysis of clandestine border crossing that employs a combination of archaeology and ethnography to understand this phenomenon in a variety of geographic contexts including the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona, Northern Mexican border towns, and the southern Mexico/Guatemala border. In the last year, this research has been featured in over two hundred print and radio media outlets in the U.S., Latin America, and beyond, including National Public Radio, Archaeology magazine, Reforma, Huffington Post, and the Associated Press. In 2011, he co-hosted (with Kirk D. French) a short-lived television series about archaeology and anthropology on the Discovery Channel called "American Treasures." 


Kirk D. Frenchis Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University. French is an environmental archaeologist who began working at the Classic Maya site of Palenque in 1998 and was immediately impressed by the remains of their hydrological systems. He has since spent his time developing a better understanding of the interplay between humans and their environment as related to water availability. His research aims to provide views of what landscape alteration can and has done to the environment through archaeology, watershed modeling, and ethnographic/documentary film. French also is dedicated to public outreach through television. He was the creator, consulting producer, and co-host (with Jason De León) of the television series “American Treasures” that aired on Discovery Channel in 2011. French is currently producing a documentary about the effects of urbanism on the Teotihuacan Valley over the last 50 years called “Land and Water Revisited.” 


Claudia Valentino is Editor-in-Chief of Archaeology magazine. Valentino has been a managing, executive, and articles editor on a number of award winning, national newsstand publications. She has taken a general interest approach to science journalism and has served at Popular Science, American Health, and at Seed magazine, which won American Society of Magazine Editor’s nominations for General Excellence and Design during her tenure, in addition to recognition for its web and blog sites. Valentino is a graduate of the New York University magazine journalism program. She also writes fiction and literary non-fiction and most recently has had an essay published in More magazine.