Aug 25, 2010

MHz teams up with Partnership for 21st Century Skills

MHz Networks has joined forces with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national organization that advocates for American schools to teach students critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity, and innovation. The announcement today (Aug. 25) said MHz will be one of 40 strategic council members that include Sesame Workshop, Apple and Lego. MHz, based in Falls Church, Va., is an independent pubTV programmer offering array of international shows.

GPB gets its game on for high school sports

Georgia Public Broadcasting is kicking off a new division, GPB Sports, according to a statement from the network today (Aug. 25). GPB had "record ratings" during last year's state high school championship football games, it said. The division will create new programs across all platforms. There's GPB Sports Central, a 30-minute weekly show; GPB Sports Central XL, a live video chat among coaches, fans, writers and bloggers; Football Fridays in Georgia, the game of the week featuring a pre-game show, scores from around the state, and a post-game program; and, a redesigned site with on-demand of top games, pages for more than 400 state high schools, rankings, sports blogs and live chats.

Passionate "Star Gazer" of WPBT dies at 72

Jack Horkheimer, an astronomer who created and hosted the weekly pubTV program Star Gazer from WPBT in Miami, died Aug. 20 in that city. He was 72, the Los Angeles Times reports. Horkheimer also had been director of the Miami Science Museum and Space Transit Planetarium for 35 years until his retirement three years ago.

He began the show, which extolled naked-eye stargazing, at the station in 1976 as Star Hustler; it went national in 1985 and became Star Gazer in the 1990s. He offered it free to pubTV stations and some 200 carry it.

WPBT told Current that Horkheimer "gave his age age as somewhere between post-puberty and pre-senility." He especially enjoyed his cartoon alter-ego in the monthly "Star Gazing With Jack Horkheimer" comic strip in Odyssey Magazine. Several years of cartoons were assembled into a book.

In 2000 Horkheimer received the prestigious Klumpke-Roberts Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for making astronomy "so attractive that people can't help but be interested in learning about it."

He often said he'd like this on his headstone:

"Keep Looking Up was my life's admonition, I can do little else in my present position."

Knight program to assist engagement technology

The Technology for Engagement Initiative is the latest pubmedia project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation, with $2.23 million. It was announced Tuesday (Aug. 24). "Through Tweets, status updates and videos, so many people invest time and energy in making statements online about the issues that matter most to them," said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives. "These projects aim to harness that energy and turn it into on-the-ground action for bettering communities."

According to the announcement, the first projects are:

Craigslist Foundation ($750,000): to make it easy to find field-tested ways to build community, by creating an idea-sharing website. Institutions, community groups and individuals will tell their success stories on the site and connect with people of like minds.

Jumo ($750,000): to connect people – via a social network – with the issues and organizations that interest them. Started by Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, Jumo is building a network to foster relationships between people and organizations working for global change. The site matches users with relevant organizations, then engages them through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other applications to encourage contributions of time, skills or money.

Code For America ($250,000): to transform city governments across the country by enlisting the nation’s most promising developers to apply Web 2.0 principles to civic problems. Based on the Teach for America model, members will create web applications to help make city governments more transparent, participatory and efficient. Knight Foundation’s funding will ensure the participation of Philadelphia and Boulder, Colo., two Knight communities.

Community PlanIt by Engagement Game Lab, Emerson College ($250,000): to revitalize the community planning process by developing an interactive game platform that lets stakeholders work—and play—together to solve problems. The grant will fund game development, in collaboration with four Knight communities.

CEOS for Cities ($235,000): to test whether residents can help create solutions to local problems, filling a gap left by shrinking municipal budgets. This project will build a crowd-sourcing platform that invites residents to work with their city hall to identify problems and find answers. San Jose, Calif. and Grand Rapids, Mich. will test the idea.

Explore "God in America" outreach at NCME webinar

The National Center for Media Engagement hosts a webinar at 1 p.m. Eastern Thursday (Aug. 26) on outreach opportunities for "God in America," the six-hour American Experience/Frontline series on PBS in October. Now available to participants is an hourlong segment of the series on the NCME website. Participants include series producer Marilyn Mellowes; Bobbie Fisher, communications director of WHRO in Norfolk, Va., which already has launched engagement activities; Deborah Turner, executive director of DEI's Leadership for Philanthropy Initiative; and series outreach director Erin Martin Kane. They'll be discussing partnerships with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, the Fetzer Institute, Sacred Space International, and other groups. Register here.