Jul 30, 2010
Jul 29, 2010
More than 400 items from the offices and studios of WNET/Thirteen in New York are being auctioned off Aug. 3. The station soon will move to new digs but doesn't yet know where, according to Crain's New York Business. It's sub-leasing to Gay Men's Health Crisis starting in October.
Jul 28, 2010
And fear not: Despite rumors of the DAC's demise, it's still up and running. DAC and PBS continue to mold its future role with the network, which is evolving in the wake of four positions eliminated in PBS Development as of June 15. Those staffers had specialized in several aspects of station fundraising.
PBS recently hired Carol Sorber as its director of professional development; she'd held similar positions at several law firms. According to a PBS internal memo, she will "coordinate our professional development offerings to stations and develop a leadership training curriculum." Sorber reports to Thomas Crockett, veep of station services.
Jul 27, 2010
The region now has five public radio stations broadcasting NPR News shows, reports the Delmarva Daily Times, including a signal from Baltimore's WYPR broadcasting on 106.9 FM. "If WAMU were to bring a different format, we'd welcome it with open arms," says Gerry Weston, g.m. of Public Radio Delmarva. "Those stations [WRAU and Baltimore's WYPO] have resources in big cities and they are deciding to come down here."
Mark McDonald, WAMU p.d., says listeners lobbied his station to expand its signal into the Delmarva region. "There will be duplication, but our aim is to be distinctive in our local coverage," he tells the Daily Times.
Public Radio Delmarva, which is based in Salisbury, operates WSDL as an all-news station and WSCL as a news and classical music service. Further south in Princess Anne, WESM-FM splits its broadcast days between NPR News shows and jazz and blues music. "I can't say we're happy about it," said Stephen Williams, news director, of the new competition. "It's especially problematic because we want our listeners to know they are listening to WESM."
Jul 26, 2010
Jul 23, 2010
Schorr's news career began in 1946 as a foreign correspondent for Christian Science Monitor, then the New York Times. He first began working with NPR in the late 1970s. He help create CNN in 1979, and served as that network’s senior correspondent in Washington. He became senior news analyst for NPR in 1985.
Schorr earned many news awards including a Peabody for “a lifetime of uncompromising reporting of the highest integrity,” three Emmys and the duPont-Columbia Golden Baton. In 2002 he inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Professional Journalists. His memoir, Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism, was published in 2001, and Clearing the Air, an account of his experiences at CBS, hit bookstores in 1977.
In a 2001 interview with Current, Schorr recalled an infamous moment in his broadcast career. In 1973, during Watergate, he was on the air reading President Nixon's "Enemies List." Suddenly, he came to his own name at No. 17. He simply kept reading. "But every now and then I’m sort of retrospectively alarmed. I think, jeez, what do you think he would have done?," he told Current. "It is true that for the first and only time in my life, my income tax was audited that year. The Treasury denies there was any connection, but it’s a big, big coincidence."
"Dan was around for both the Russian Revolution and the Digital Revolution," Simon said. "Nobody else in broadcast journalism – or perhaps any field – had as much experience and wisdom. I am just glad that, after being known for so many years as a tough and uncompromising journalist, NPR listeners also got to know the Dan Schorr that was playful, funny and kind." (Image: Stephen Voss for NPR)
Jul 22, 2010
Jul 21, 2010
Carl Gibson, whose first job out of journalism school was covering the state capitol for MPB, was fired on Friday for leaking an internal memo about the state network's decision to drop the NPR-distributed show. Gibson was just returning from an assignment covering the Gulf Coast oil spill, he said, when controversy over MPB's cancellation erupted over the blogosphere on July 15. Friends at the Jackson Free Press, the state's only alternative newspaper, approached Gibson as a source, and he wanted to help them get the story straight, he told Current.
The Free Press's July 16 story points to the discrepancy between MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis's official statement describing the "careful consideration and review" given to the decision to drop Fresh Air and the email that Gibson leaked, which was written by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell shortly after the axe came down. Farrell notified MPB staff July 8 that the show was being dropped immediately "due to content issues with the program," according to Free Press. Farrell sent the memo less than 24 hours after MPB aired the Fresh Air interview in which comedian Louis C.K. discussed why he had sex with his shirt on. MPB has pointed to this edition of Fresh Air as an example of the content it found inappropriate.
Leaking the memo was a violation of MPB policy, Gibson acknowledged, but he mostly regrets sending it from his office email account, which was traceable. "I was not the only one leaking emails; I was the only one that got caught." He believes that, by canceling Fresh Air, MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis violated another important policy: MPB's commitment not to censor or edit programs for broadcast "solely out of fear of complaint."
MPB has not responded to Current's request for comment.
Jul 20, 2010
Jul 19, 2010
After a state legislative committee investigating Alcoa's license renewal request declared UNC-TV a "state agency," Alcoa then demanded, via the state's open records laws, that the station furnish it all the reporter's materials on the story dating to January 2008. A station spokesman said its attorneys are currently reviewing the request. See the next Current, July 26, for more on this story.
UPDATE: Loris Taylor, exec director of Native Public Media, told Current in a statement: "San Manuel Band of Mission Indian's investment into KVCR public television demonstrates how extra digital channels can be used to provide service to unserved populations. This will be the first TV channel to provide important Native American programming not only for San Manuel but other tribes in the area. A strong and healthy information ecology is critically important to the nation building efforts of Tribes and every time another facility is added to our pool of broadcast assets, our system grows stronger. Native Public Media is happy to extend its assistance to Chairman Ramos of San Manuel in this historic endeavor."
Part of the discussion at the confab focused on that growing use of online media -- and the concern it raises regarding audiences with no access to the Web. One solution may be inspired by Access Sacramento's "hyperlocal news bureaus" in libraries and other community spaces to serve as a bridge between those online and those yet to be trained. “We are proposing that we create stories of a neighborhood nature that would be relevant," said Ron Cooper of Access Sacramento at the conference. "We are training folks and providing them with the lowest-possible learning threshold for loading digital content of any kind whatsoever."
Cooper said he encountered reluctance among the city's cable regulators who oversee the PEG channel's $400,000 annual budget: Why should they pay for a website? He overcame that by pointing out that this would reach new audiences and the video training would create “new fresh programming that will run on the cable channels and complete the loop of why are we spending money on a website.” In a nutshell: “It creates programming for the access channels."
Jul 16, 2010
In response, PBS told Gelter in part: "No PBS funder is permitted to exercise editorial control over content. This is the most important consideration in our underwriting policies. . . . It was determined that Shultz's role in the Bechtel Corporation — which is disclosed in the program — did not preclude funding from the related family foundation under the circumstances since subject matter of the program was Shultz's role as Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, not his role in the corporation."
Producer David DeVries told Getler that during the three years of production, "I was completely unaware of who the funders were," and he was "never pressured" to present Schultz in a good light. "The overall positive tone of my portrait of George Shultz was arrived at through my own research and an extensive interview process. It is positive because I legitimately came to believe Shultz has been a dedicated public servant and a great Secretary of State."
"This incident is of particular concern to us here at The Sound of Young America not just because we create a show with a format similar to Fresh Air's, or because Terry Gross is a personal hero of mine, but also because much of our show is focused on humor, and that seems to be the real target of the ban," Thorn writes. Comedian Louis CK, whose recent appearance on Fresh Air reportedly spurred MPB's cancellation, "is, in my professional opinion, the single most insightful, 'meaningful' comic working today, and he is no less insightful and 'meaningful' in an interview context." By dissing Louis CK, MPB perpetuates the "age-old falsehood that the work of a comedian, because it's funny, doesn't 'contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse.'"
The Sound of Young America, a weekly interview-based radio series distributed by Public Radio International, airs on about 25 public radio stations, and MPB Radio isn't among them. Thorn acknowledges that the statewide radio net probably wasn't even considering carrying his show, "but that won't stop us from snipping any potential consideration of carriage that might occur in the bud, should it happen to unexpectedly appear. WE'RE JUST THAT PRINCIPLED."
Thorn created a Facebook page, "I'm banning myself from Mississippi Public Radio," which has garnered 93 fans since it launched today.
UNC-TV earlier this month (July 6) provided that information to its state legislature as part of its investigation into the dam lease renewal. UNC-TV attorneys decided that state law required public agencies to turn over information sought by any legislative committee, and they didn't think the request fell under the state's 1999 press shield law that protects journalists from having to disclose information not yet disseminated.
In a July 9 press release, Alcoa President Rick Bowen said, "We don't have any desire to enter into the editorial process or challenge the freedom of the press, but UNC-TV has openly acknowledged that it is a state agency. Given the story's inherent bias, the inclusion of undocumented claims against Alcoa, the fact that the segment aired with a disclaimer at the beginning and end acknowledging that for the first time ever the station abandoned its customary editorial review process, along with UNC-TV's decision to permit Sen. Fletcher Hartsell to use its unpublished video as a blatant political tool, we want to learn more about how this story was developed and who influenced the content."
The release says the request covers "all video footage as well as all unedited, edited and final versions, photographs, compilations, and related materials as well as all communications and/or correspondence sent or received by Eszter Vajda or any other employee or representative of UNC-TV since January 1, 2008."
MPB Executive Director Dr. Judith Lewis didn't get into the details in a statement issued late yesterday, after Gawker and the Huffington Post had picked up on the story. "Too often Fresh Air's interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues," she said.
Fresh Air didn't receive any specific complaints from MPB prior to the cancellation, according to Danny Miller, e.p. "Of course, we are following the speculation on different blogs, but to comment further would just be speculation on our part. In any event, we hope we are back on MPB soon."
The Maddow Blog put former NPR staffer Laura Conaway on the story, and she reported that host Terry Gross's recent interview with Louis C.K. prompted the cancellation. Gross asked the comedian whether he always had sex with his shirt on. A complaint about the exchange came not from an MPB listener, but a caller who heard the show over the phone system of the Mississippi state college and university system, after they had been placed on hold, according to the story.
MPB posted a link to the Maddow Blog report on its Facebook page early this morning, with this blurb: "Here's the article explaining why MPB removed Fresh Air from our line-up." An overwhelming majority of MPB listeners who have reacted to the decision on Facebook have objected.
CLARIFICATION: The July 7 edition of Fresh Air, which included Terry Gross's interview with Louis CK, was the last to air on MPB Radio, but it wasn't the first program to prompt objections, according to an MPB statement issued this afternoon. "Complaints from listeners about Fresh Air have built up over time, so following complaints about [the July 7] show, MPB’s Executive Director made the decision that it was best for MPB to stop carrying the program."
Jul 15, 2010
UPDATE: Here's an interesting Emmy factoid. The two nominations for the Frontline/World doc, "Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground" (at top, image: PBS) are a first for any Canadian university. Ten students from the University of British Columbia's international reporting class worked on the film, reports the Vancouver Sun. Former 60 Minutes producer and UBC associate professor Peter Klein supervised the students as they traced the path of electronic waste -- such as old computers and cellphones -- around the globe. "There, buried among smoldering heaps of burning plastics and metals, they discovered health, human rights and national security concerns," the paper said. The two nods are in the outstanding investigative journalism and outstanding research categories.
Jul 14, 2010
He was a member of the Rhode Island Telecommunications Authority, and president of the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association since 2008.
Michael Isaacs, chairman of the telecom authority, said Fish could "turn adversity into advantage. He brought that kind of thinking and leadership to the public television station here in Rhode Island. It was a new perspective from someone who had broadcasting experience in a different arena. Bob knew a lot of people and touched a lot of lives."
His career included serving as g.m. of WRKO talk radio in Boston; chairman of the U.S. Broadcast Group, overseeing seven TV stations; president of G&C Broadcasting, which operated radio stations in Phoenix, Ariz.; and CEO of Federal Communications Corp., which owned and operated stations including Rhode Island’s talk radio WHJJ and rock station WHJY.
Fish was a 1968 graduate of what is now Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.
He is survived by wife, Jane Fish; two brothers, Kenneth Fish of Warwick, R.I., and Larry Fish of South Kingstown, R.I.; two sons, Brett and Blair Fish; and five grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his parents, Kenneth and Ruth Fish of Warwick, R.I.
Funeral services took place July 13.
Jul 13, 2010
This is a new group — not the preexisting, similarly named African American Public Radio Consortium led by Loretta Rucker, which applied unsuccessfully for the grant.
NFCB already provides an organizational umbrella for Native Public Media and Latino Public Radio. “We have experience and a track record of dealing with the diversity of our industry,” said new NFCB President Maxie Jackson, who forged strong relationships with many African American station execs during his previous jobs as a station programmer and consultant.
The federation will hire a project manager and assemble a group of station advisors to help the stations with fundraising, programming, professional development, institutional positioning and community engagement. Development Exchange Inc., the National Center for Media Engagement, public TV’s National Black Programming Consortium, and Public Radio Exchange have signed on as partners with the project, Jackson said.
As the group develops, NFCB will study the feasibility of creating fundraising hubs for African American stations. “The African American stations need to do a much better job in aggregating financial resources,” Jackson said. Groups of up to five stations would improve fundraising results by sharing fundraising staffs, expertise and equipment.
CPB’s one-year grant of $300,000 is renewable, subject to an evaluation of NFCB’s progress in meeting stations’ needs.
Earlier in June, CPB discussed the pending RFP with African American station reps in St. Paul, Minn. “We wanted to hear what people had to say, and the meeting reinforced our selection,” said Bruce Theriault, senior v.p. of radio. “They confirmed the issues, priorities and things they wanted to deal with.”
CPB’s selection of NFCB for the role complicates the future of the African American Public Radio Consortium led by Loretta Rucker. The consortium, which was NPR’s partner in creating a series of talk shows targeting black listeners — Tavis Smiley to News and Notes and Tell Me More, lost Michael Eric Dyson as host of a new talk show after a short run last spring. CPB backed a new Dyson show, now in production at Baltimore’s WEAA, but declined a funding proposal for Upfront with Tony Cox, the consortium’s successor to its broadcast with Dyson. Upfront ceased production in May.
Rucker recently said the consortium would welcome CPB’s assistance to African American stations, no matter who won the grant.
Sources for financial backing for what the Times dubs "this tribute" include the Stephen Bechtel Fund (where Schultz was president for seven years, as well as a board member), and Charles Schwab (Schultz was a board member on the Charles Schwab Corp.). FAIR points out that this means the doc was "partially sponsored by corporations linked to Shultz's corporate career." And it cites several reviewers who commented that they thought the doc was overwhelmingly positive.
John Wilson, PBS programming chief, told the Times that PBS evaluates programs on their merits. "PBS has a vivid track record of covering this administration’s key players. It goes without saying this is not our first look at the Reagan White House and not the last."
FAIR, meanwhile, posted PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler's contact info and urged readers to call or e-mail him with their concerns.
Larry Unger, MPT's chief operating officer, said the station has done televised debates for some statewide offices in the past. This year, it is conducting short interviews with statewide and Congressional candidates to be posted on its website. "People don’t want to sit through a program and watch interviews with all of the candidates," Unger said. "That would take a really long time. This way, they can do what they want, and all of the interviews will be available to them."
Invitations to participate went out to 48 candidates last week; seven or eight candidates have already made appointments for their interviews, Unger said. But Blaine Taylor, a Democrat challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski in the primary, wrote his scathing response to the invitation e-mail from MPT.
"I think it’s foolish, outrageous and insulting,” Taylor said in an interview with MarylandReporter.com. MPT receives state taxpayer funding, so it should be doing a public service by broadcasting the interviews on television, Taylor said. He insisted he wasn't concerned about the audience numbers, but rather the principle. "The two key words are 'public broadcasting,'" he said. "You paid for it, I paid for it, all taxpayers paid for it. It’s what they should be doing."
Jul 12, 2010
Jul 9, 2010
Jul 8, 2010
Jul 7, 2010
Jul 6, 2010
Hughes said in a letter to colleagues that "the time is right to step down from the helm of Public Interactive and chart a new course," but didn't mention what that would be. Hughes began her pubcasting career 14 years ago by launching Car Talk's site and steered PI through transitions to new parent companies Public Radio International and NPR. Hughes headed PI since 2005, as president and COO and then as an NPR vice president. She was an executive in PI’s predecessor company, New Market Network in Boston, from 1996, and involved in the founding of PI in 1999. "Of course, my stilettos will be difficult ones to fill, but I’m confident the transition will be smooth prior and during the appointment of a new vice president, which is likely to occur early this fall," she added.
In an accompanying note, Kinsey Wilson, senior v.p. and g.m. of NPR Digital Media, said a job description for interested applicants will be posted soon.
Jul 5, 2010
UPDATE: APTS "expressed disappointment, but not surprise," at Dish Network's suit in a statement today (July 9). APTS noted it has been trying for years to reach a private carriage agreement on behalf of pubTV with the satellite carrier. "Dish subscribers should be permitted to access local public televisions’ informational and educational programming, and Dish is fully capable of providing this content.” said Lonna Thompson, APTS interim president. APTS will file an amicus brief with the Justice Department addressing the need for the STELA provision in order to prevent further discrimination by Dish against pubTV HD programming. A court date is set for July 22.
Jul 4, 2010
This fiscal year, the licensee will have to operate without $312,000 that the state government contributed in fiscal 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported. WTTW public television earlier said it would cut 12 percent of its staff after losing $1.25 million from