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Merrill Brown, a veteran journalist, media executive and consultant, has worked for print, broadcast and Internet outlets. He also was a pioneer in the delivery of online news, having been the first editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com, the largest news site in the U.S. In addition to reporting on Wall Street as a correspondent for the Washington Post, he was the editor of Channels, a magazine about television, during the 1980s. He was later hired to help create Court TV, where he was a founder and served as senior vice president. Following consulting work with Time, NBC, US West, and others, he was named MSNBC.com’s first editor-in-chief, stepping into that role in August 1996 after serving as acting manager for the July launch of the service. Brown was also a founder of News21, an educational effort involving journalism grad students from five major universities— Columbia, Berkeley, USC Annenberg, Northwestern, and Harvard— a program that was guided by a support team of faculty and professional journalists. Brown served as National Editorial Director of the project from June 2005 until January 2008. He was brought on board at NowPublic, the citizen journalism news network with contributors from around the globe, in the spring of 2006 and his relationship with the organization grew until he was part of the board and eventually elected chairman.
Building MSNBC's Reputation:
As the Web site’s first editor-in-chief, he was responsible “forging connections” between Microsoft’s “technology wizards” and NBC’s “news hounds,” between MSNBC on the Internet based in Redmond, Washington, and MSNBC Cable, based in New Jersey. The New York Times also remarked that his responsibilities, which included “raising the bar for people working on the online side so that their skills and experience and journalistic sensibilities match those on the NBC side” had made “New York-to-Seattle into a shuttle flight.” He went on to become Senior Vice President in August 2000 and during his tenure, the fledgling company grew to become one of the most visited news offerings on the Internet, maintaining a position as the No. 1 online news provider since 1999.
Brown was associated with The Washington Post from 1979 to 1985, serving as a financial reporter (1979–1982), New York financial correspondent (1982–1984) and director of business development, Washington Post Company (1984–1985). Prior to that, Brown was a financial reporter at the Washington Star (1978–1979), Washington correspondent for Media General Newspapers (1975–1978), a reporter at the Winston-Salem Sentinel (1974–1975) and reporter and freelance critic at the St. Louis Post Dispatch (1973–1974).
As a founder of the cable network Court TV, Brown worked on all facets of the network's operation leading up to its July 1991 launch. As senior vice president, corporate & program development, he oversaw program planning, advertising, promotion, marketing, public relations and development of day-to-day management of the cable network (1990–1994).
While at Time, he served as consulting senior editor of Money magazine, developing online and Internet services for the publication. He also served as acting editor for Time Magazine Daily (the periodical's daily online news operation) and as a consulting editor for Time magazine. During that time, Brown also served as a launch consultant for NBC Desktop Video, designing the network program plan and creating the network's on-air look for NBC's business news service delivered to personal computers.
In Spring 2005, he prepared a report for the Carnegie Corporation of New York which was published in the organization's Carnegie Reporter and examined young peoples' changing media consumption habits. The report was widely read and referenced in a speech later that year by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in a speech to the American Society of Magazine Editors in addition to other domestic and international outlets.
Brown is the founder and principal of MMB Media LLC, which provides clients with management and strategy consulting, corporate, editorial and program development, business analysis and marketing services and is also a partner in Propeller LLC, a New York consultancy. Since the founding of the MMB Media, clients have ranged from companies in the news, information and wireless businesses to a large foundation.
Brown also serves on the Board of Directors of Smashing Ideas, Inc. and the board of the International Women's Media Foundation. He is an adviser to the Center for Citizen Media, New West Publishing, iFocus, the Institute for the Connected Society, Project Agape, and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Brown is a member of the advisory boards of two advertising firms, Media 6 Degrees and TRA Global, where he recently became Advisory Board Chairman. Brown is also an advisor to Evri.com, a content discovery company funded by Vulcan Capital.
Brown is a Board Member at the IWMF (International Women's Media Foundation).
In September 2012 he starts as the inaugural director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, to which Brown states “I am proud to be associated with the strong team within the new school and with an administration that’s committed to making the school a recognized leader in a field that’s critically important to the future of the state and the region.” His extensive knowledge and participation in the creation of the new School of Communication and Media represent a strong opportunity of growth to the renovated curriculum as well as the establishment of new partnerships with media networking agencies.