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Monday, July 17, 2017

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Jaci Clement, CEO of the Fair Media Council Our Coverage Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental, Official Dentist of Whom You Know

Jaci Clement

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Jaci Clement earned her first byline in a daily newspaper when she was in the fourth grade. She's been working for and with media ever since.

Today, as the chief executive officer and executive director of the Fair Media Council, Jaci continuously brings the biggest names and most influential players in the media industry to Long Island. Her range of guests have included Rita Cosby, The Marshall Project’s Bill Keller, media critic Michael Wolff, Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, Bob Woodruff, Al Roker, Brian Kilmeade and Harry Smith, among many others. 

She is a sought-after commentator on the topic of media and public perception, having appeared on countless news and talk shows around the country. An accomplished public speaker, she has keynoted, moderated and facilitated at events for organizations throughout the United States about media and communications issues. She currently writes on Medium.

In her role at Fair Media Council, Clement serves as the voice of the public in news matters, to ensure news coverage is responsible and the media remains responsive and respectful to the public it serves. She also creates programming to help the public understand news, appreciate its importance to American society and provide opportunities to begin the crucial step of building relationships with the media.

Her interest in news and how it works began at an early age: One day her father told her if she wanted to be successful in life, she’d need to understand business. He then handed her a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and asked her to read it everyday. She was in the fourth grade. Over time, she cultivated her media habits to include a variety of dailies, news magazines and more, and used them to broaden her understanding of classroom teachings. She soon began writing for publication, and served as the editor of every school publication from eighth grade through college. In college, while serving as the news editor of Hofstra Chronicle, she made headlines around the country for writing an investigative news story that forced the resignation of a tenured professor.

Her work has appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times, Newsweek, The Hill, Long Island Business News, Broadcasting & Cable, Newsday and Better Homes & Gardens, among others. She was a regular guest on PBS’s New York affiliate, WNET/WLIW’s 21 Forum, a weekly talk show on current events. She is a contributor to the book, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Social Media,” and created the “New York/New Jersey Publicity Guide and Media Directory,” currently available on

An award-winning journalist and marketer, Clement was an invited participant in a project to shape the newsroom of the future sponsored by the Media Giraffe Project, a research initiative housed within the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, journalism program. Her association with PENCIL enabled her to work with fourth and fifth-grade teachers at PS 24 in Flushing, Queens to introduce their students to concepts of news literacy as necessary to the development of critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills.

She is a member of the National Press Club and London-based The Media Society. She holds the title of Executive Communicator, the highest rank of distinction bestowed by the Association of Women in Communications, and was an adjunct professor of journalism at Hofstra University. She is a former member of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana’s Media Ethics Magazine advisory board. She was an honorary member of the League of Women Voters of the City of New York’s Annual Luncheon for many years. She was also a member of the board of directors of The Early Years’ Institute, a nonprofit organization devoted to kindergarten readiness and is a former associate director of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, one of the largest credit unions in the country. 

She has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Advancement for Commerce, Industry and Technology (ACIT). The Long Island Association has presented her with its Media Advocate of the Year Award. 

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Clement attended Hofstra University, where she earned a B.A. in communications/journalism. Interests include traveling, restaurants, entrepreneurship (not necessarily in that order) and dancing. She is a former pro-am ballroom dance competitor and champion, and is writing a novel based on the experience.   We are so pleased to present Jaci Clement as our latest Mover and Shaker!  Peachy Deegan interviewed Jaci for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is the Fair Media Council and its history?
Jaci Clement: 
It began in 1979 with a very narrow mission of monitoring the amount of news coverage the over-the-air television stations based in New York City were providing to Long Island. Back then, it was called the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting. 

I entered the picture in 2001 and, by then, media changed dramatically. Remember having to actually get up off the couch to change the channel? Changes to the media landscape – like the rise of cable, the 24-hour news cycle and the internet, to name a few – made that original mission obsolete, but at the very heart of it, there was still great value. In 2004, we expanded our focus and mission, getting rid of geographical barriers and the limitation of OTA television. Since 2004, our mission is to advocate for quality news and work to create a media savvy society. That’s when the Fair Media Council was born. We work to keep the news media responsible, responsive to the communities it covers, and respectful to the public. 

What do you remember about being published in 4th grade and how did it make you feel?
I remember that like it was yesterday! It was really cool to see my name in a byline. Still is.

How have you seen the press evolve and do you feel like you are part of the mainstream media? Why or why not?
This falls under the adage, ‘The more things change the more they stay the same.’ Media changes every time technology changes. So, it may look and feel shiny and new, but the fundamentals of news and its purpose haven’t changed. Cable did succeed in changing the character of news, with credibility falling victim to likeability. Add in the rise of social media, and suddenly everyone with an Internet connection has a voice and can be heard. That was quite a kick in the head for the gatekeepers of information.
But now that the novelty of Facebook and its brethren have worn off, people are back to wanting to hear from those they trust. Like it or not, that points back to legacy media.
As for me, I have never considered myself mainstream anything. While I have worked for newspapers, on both the news and business sides, the experience taught me how to straddle both worlds. Now, even though I’m in the news, it’s in a different way. I’m the bridge between the media and the public so again, I’m straddling two entirely different worlds. 
In my heart, I do love news. I love it for what it can do to expand peoples’ minds and build a sense of community. That said, I have zero tolerance for it when it’s done badly or simply phoned in. It’s a missed opportunity for greatness, each and every time.

President Trump often criticizes the press; how would you analyze his criticism and do you feel it is justified in any way?
I used to think he was critical of the press, but now I’m convinced 45 is doing nothing more than behaving like a spoiled brat and having an old-fashioned temper tantrum. I seriously doubt Jake Tapper is losing any sleep over it.
To a degree, I’ve seen this happen with politicians and others who are catapulted into the public eye. Of course, no one else has ever taken it to the level of our current president. There’s an adjustment that takes place when people are suddenly famous, either for the first time or for a different reason, such as in the case of Trump. He’s learning he’s not the CEO now, but a public servant, and that’s the way the media is covering him. Big diff. 
All that said, every now and again it’s needful to burst the bubble the media lives in, and give it a reality check. In the long run, everyone’s better off.

What are the biggest mistakes people make in public speaking and how should they be corrected?
People tend to think standing behind a podium somehow makes them infinitely more interesting. It doesn’t. Craft a message and tell me a story well, and I will reward you with paying attention and giving you the gift of my most precious commodity: my time. 
And don’t just hire a public speaking coach. I went out of my way to find a speech coach who was also a drama coach. Think about it.

What are the keys to being a great moderator?
Breaking down the barrier between speakers and audience, so everyone feels engaged and equally important in the process.

What are your favorite ballroom dances and why and how do you like Dancing with the Stars?
I’m a Rumba dancer, the slows and the quicks make it interesting to dance. The storyline, too, is interesting. People too quickly dismiss Rumba as the dance of love, but it’s also about the pain of love that’s been lost or unrequited. 
The Samba is great fun, and I love the music. I went to Brazil specifically to take Samba lessons, only to find what they’re doing there is nothing like you see at Carnivale. Not hip movement at all. It looks more like a Waltz. Wow, was I bad on those lessons.
Honestly, I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars now. I did, in the beginning. Once they started adding musical acts and all that behind-the-scenes footage, I lost interest.

We are highly impressed with the talents of Rita Cosby. What do you like most about her and what should everyone know about her that they might not know?
Oh, that woman. She has an energy force that bounces off all the walls and the ceiling, too. And it’s infectious, which makes being around her so much fun. Hmmm, what everyone should know is probably this: Rita has a work ethic that is insane. Of course, standing next to her I feel like a slacker. But in a good way.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Probably all the rejection letters I’ve received and all the people who told me I’d never amount to much. They are legion.

What are you proudest of and why?
I don’t cut corners. I figure, when I have finished a project or achieved a goal, I can celebrate doubly, if that’s a word. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Oh so much! I feel like I’m just getting started. I want to publish my book and see it turn into a movie or screen play. In my head it’s already a series. 
I want to see our K-12 education system incorporate a standard for media literacy education, preferably at the fourth grade level. I’d like to take the FCC playbook and throw it out the window, and write regulation that actually makes sense in today’s world. And I’d love to harness the potential of all of those public access channels – the good that could come out of that would be amazing. 
And I still want to get my personal trainer certification, and win the national Pro-Am title. 
Have I said too much?

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
I actually don’t take awards from media outlets these days, as it can become a conflict of interest with the mission of FMC. I have been honored by community and business organizations, and am often asked to participate in media discussions at the university level. 

What one word best describes you and why?
Real. Media is all perception, and ballroom dancing is about creating illusions. Reality is sometimes a great relief.

What do you take your sense of identity from?
Memories. The energy from them stays with you, and makes you different.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
These days, I’m partial to downtown. I seldom take the subway or taxis, I want to walk and see everything.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
I’m not much of a shopper. I’d rather hang out in a restaurant, at the bar and chat with people around me or the bartender. 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
I really need a personal assistant – someone who keeps me organized and holds me to a schedule. Think Chris Hemsworth is available?

What is your favorite drink?
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Ginger Margarita

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
Well, there was this time a newspaper publisher came over to introduce himself, and when he found out who I was – I had just issued a pretty scathing opinion on some of the work happening at his shop – he back peddled away from me so quickly he may have left skidmarks. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
Depends on my mood. I’m horrible at making reservations. I’d rather explore a neighborhood and find the most ethnic-looking spot around. I end up in hole-in-the-wall types of places much more often than not.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 
Oscar Hijuelos’ Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, of course. 

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
A seagull. I love the beach, and seafood, and it would be really cool to pick up and fly whenever I felt like it.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
How about a pier? Instead of Pier 92 let’s make it Pier Jaci. I would like that, especially when it was Westminster Kennel Club time and all the dogs would come to visit me.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
I’ve competed in hotel ballrooms around the country, but there’s something special about dancing in the ballroom at the Roosevelt Hotel. There’s romance in that room.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Randomly run into people who are the very best at what they do! 

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
You know, can I trade in dinner and take a ride on Secretariat? I’m a huge fan of that horse. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
One night I was in Bemelman’s, listening to Tony DeSare. Valerie Simpson was in the audience so she joined him for an impromptu set. Love that. 
But also, late in the evening when everyone’s had too much vodka at the Samovar, the lights are swinging and someone who just finished a Broadway show gets behind the mic or the piano. Yeah, that rocks. 

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I’ve helped a lot of people land jobs. I used to mentor, but not now. I’ve donated time to serve on boards of directors, and stuff like that. But mostly, when I’m moved by something, I’ll write about it. Sharing perspective is one of the best things we can do, in my opinion.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan?
Underrated: Its approachability. Overrated: Its pricing.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite​ column and what do you like about it?
Pardon my bias, but Chacha Peachy is where the fun is.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I’m owned by a German Shepherd Dog named Jive. Few things are as magical as Christmas in New York. I’m hopeless when it comes to uncorking a bottle. I keep hand-written notes. Sometimes, I get shy.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Tweet me @jaciclement or email

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