Comcast CEO, Foursquare co-founders to be honored with Dressler, i-3 Awards

By Wendy Loughlin

March 21, 2011

Brian Roberts, Dennis Crowley ’98 and Naveen Selvadurai will attend June 7 ceremony
March 21, 2011

Comcast Corporation chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts will receive the Fred Dressler Achievement Award, and Foursquare co-founders Dennis Crowley ’98 and Naveen Selvadurai will receive the i-3 award for impact, innovation and influence at the fifth annual Mirror Awards ceremony June 7.

The event will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, New York City. The awards are sponsored by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Information about sponsorship levels and registration are available online.

Dressler Award – Brian L. Roberts, Comcast

The Fred Dressler Achievement Award, named after the longtime cable executive whose career spanned more than 30 years in the industry, is given to individuals or organizations that have made distinct, consistent and unique contributions to the public’s understanding of the media.

“The purchase of a majority interest in NBCUniversal by Comcast was the most significant acquisition of the past year,” says Joel Kaplan, the Newhouse School’s associate dean for professional and graduate studies and a member of the Mirror Awards Advisory Committee, which helped choose the award winners. “As CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts engineered that acquisition and has now created a media and entertainment company that stretches across traditional platforms of cable, television networks and movie studios to sports broadcasting, Internet broadband, phone service and a host of digital services. At a time when so many media companies have suffered during the recession and economic downturn, Comcast is a true success story and Brian Roberts deserves much of the credit for that.”

Under Roberts’ leadership, Comcast has grown into a Fortune 100 company and is the nation’s largest video provider, largest Internet services provider and the third-largest phone company. The company is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks. Additionally, Comcast has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and a large multi-purpose arena in Philadelphia.

Roberts is a member of the board of directors of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) where he served as chairman for two consecutive terms from 2005 to 2007. He also served as NCTA’s chairman from 1995 to 1996 when the landmark deregulatory 1996 Telecommunications Act became law. He is a member of the board of directors of CableLabs, the research and development consortium for the cable industry, where he served three terms as chairman. He is a member of the Business Roundtable, a CEO-only organization based in Washington, D.C.

Roberts has won numerous business and industry honors for his leadership. In 2010, he was elected to the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. In 2009, Institutional Investor magazine named him as one of America’s top CEOs for the sixth year in a row, and named Comcast one of America’s most shareholder-friendly companies for the fourth year in a row. In 2008, he was recognized by Big Brothers Big Sisters for his outstanding leadership in the community and for serving as a role model to youth. In May 2007, he was presented with the cable industry’s highest honor, the National Cable and Telecommunications’ Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership. In October 2006, he was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was honored by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications for his commitment to diversity in the cable industry, and by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) for Comcast’s unprecedented commitment of resources to champion the PDFA’s drug-free message. He also was the recipient of the 2004 Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In 2003, he was awarded the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award by the UJA Federation of New York.

Past recipients of the Dressler Award include Bloomberg (2010); Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post (2009); political journalist Tim Russert (posthumously, 2008); and Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety (2007).

i-3 award – Dennis Crowley ’98 and Naveen Selvadurai, Foursquare

The i-3 award is given to individuals or organizations that have made a profound impact on the media landscape or have captured the public’s imagination about the potential or importance of the media in a unique way.

“Dennis and Naveen have done two profound things for new media particularly,” says Stephen Masiclat, director of the Newhouse School’s Media Management program. “They’ve shown the importance of persistence—when you’re defining a new media business like geo-location apps, it takes time to bring the public along. More profoundly, though, they’ve shown that new media is a part of the offline world. When you close your laptop or turn off your computer, there is still the need for media. Dennis and Naveen showed the media world that content is what the audience says it is, and that a 21st century media business supports whatever the audience wants to communicate about.”

Foursquare is a location-based mobile application that allows users to “check in” at various locations via their cell phones and share information with their friends. Launched in 2009, it now boasts over 7.5 million users and is considered one of the hottest innovations in social media and mobile technology.

Crowley, who graduated from the Newhouse School in 1998, also founded Dodgeball, one of the first mobile social services in the United States, which was acquired by Google in 2005. He has been named one of the “Top 35 Innovators Under 35″ by MIT’s Technology Review magazine (2005) and has won the “Fast Money” bonus round in the TV game show Family Feud (2009). His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wired, Time magazine and Newsweek. He is currently an adjunct professor at New York University. He co-founded Foursquare with Selvadurai in 2009.

Selvadurai was previously lead architect at Socialight and a senior software architect with the Global Digital Business group at Sony Music Entertainment. In this role, he oversaw and developed various applications that dealt with content management and distribution of mobile products, and was the lead developer of Sony’s Music Box mobile application. Before Sony, he consulted for New York-based Run Tones and enjoyed software engineering stints at Sun Microsystems and Lucent Technologies.

Past recipients of the i-3 award include Twitter (2010); Obama for America New Media Department/Blue State Digital (2009); and CNN/YouTube (2008).

The Mirror Awards, established by the Newhouse School in 2006, honor the reporters, editors and teams of writers who hold a mirror to their own industry for the public’s benefit.
In addition to the two special awards, juried awards will be presented in seven categories:
• Best Single Article, Traditional Media
• Best Single Article, Digital Media
• Best Profile, Traditional Media
• Best Profile, Digital Media
• Best Commentary, Traditional Media
• Best Commentary, Digital Media
• Best In-Depth Piece, Traditional Media

For more information, contact Jean Brooks at (315) 443-5711 or mirror@syr.edu. For press inquiries, contact Wendy Loughlin at (315) 443-2785 or wsloughl@syr.edu.

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