Mar 5, 2010

Worldfocus to leave the air next month will discontinue Worldfocus [Word doc], its weeknight international news report as of April 2. The producing station was “a few million dollars short” of what it needed to keep Worldfocus on the air, President Neal Shapiro said in a release today. “We demonstrated that there is a demand for international news, but we had the misfortune of launching a brand new program into the teeth of the recession,” Shapiro said, adding, “… we were in the right place at the wrong time.” The station will put resources in its new weekly current affairs series Need to Know, which starts in early May, when Bill Moyers retires from his weekly show and Now on PBS ends its run. The station announced last week that Shelley Lewis, a former CNN and ABC executive producer, has that role for Need To Know. Lewis comes from, a how-to video website for women that she co-created; she also co-created Air America Radio and was its senior v.p. of programming. She was previously e.p. of CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn and Greenfield at Large, and before that was e.p. for ABC News Productions.

KUED sister agency receives broadband grant

Utah Education Network, a sister agency with KUED at the University of Utah, has received a $13.4 million federal Recovery Act grant to bring fast Internet service to 130 schools, libraries and other community institutions in the state, and it has been a partner with PBS in developing the Digital Learning Library. The state is putting in $3.5 million to match. UEN already serves 300 schools (its map). With the Utah grant announced last week, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration had awarded grants totaling $610 million out of $7.2 billion allotted for NTIA- and Ag Department-funded broadband projects by the Recovery Act (this week's quarterly report to the House Commerce Committee). NTIA is accepting a second round of applications through March 15.

CJR delivers progress report on Vivian Schiller's agenda for NPR

“I’m not a command-and-control person,” Vivian Schiller tells the Columbia Journalism Review in a feature on her first year as NPR president. "I lead by building consensus." Schiller is addicted to her Blackberry, conducts lots of business via email and "has succeeded somewhat in piercing NPR's infamous bureaucracy," at least in the case of creating new business and reporting arrangements for Planet Money, the radio/online economics reporting collaboration with This American Life. CJR reporter Jill Drew also finds points of tension. Kevin Beesley, president of NPR's AFTRA unit, questions a "larding of the management ranks" with recent hires Keith Woods, v.p. of diversity, and Susanne Reber, deputy managing editor for investigations. "Beesley’s concern is that too much money is being spent on managers, leaving little to improve the lot of the people who create NPR’s content," CJR reports. And, among station leaders, not everyone has bought into Schiller's push for local-national collaboration in online news and fundraising. American Public Media President Bill Kling, for one, questions the campaign for mega-gifts that Ron Schiller, NPR senior v.p. of development, is planning. “If I found a $10-million donor and Ron Schiller came to town and said, ‘Let’s split that,’ I’d say no,” Kling tells CJR. “Here the most important thing to do next is to get Minnesota Public Radio up to its full potential in professional news collection and dissemination.”