Mar 14, 2011

MPR's "Music Through the Night" host Arthur Hoehn dies at 72

Arthur Hoehn, Minnesota Public Radio's first professional announcer, died Saturday (March 12) after a battle with lung cancer, MPR reports. He was 72. MPR founder and president Bill Kling recalled that for live concerts, Hoehn was "the entire crew. The truck driver, the equipment schlepper, the producer, the engineer, and the announcer." Hoehn worked at MPR for 40 years, retiring in 2002. Last year, he was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He's perhaps best known for his 12-year run as host of the nationally syndicated overnight classical show Music Through the Night.

Cap Hill hearing to focus on funding alternatives for pubcasting

The Labor/HHS subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, which oversees CPB's outlay, has scheduled a hearing on "Alternative Approaches to Funding Public Broadcasting" at 10 a.m. Eastern on April 6 on Capitol Hill.

As NPR sputters, Kling points to problem under the hood

Minnesota Public Radio President Bill Kling attributes the turbulence at NPR to its old-fashioned governance structure in today's New York Times. "NPR has been a victim of its own success," he tells media columnist David Carr. "It never matured in terms of governance as quickly as its news capabilities did. It is controlled by a board from member stations that think of it as primarily a provider of programming for their stations and not the giant media company it has become."

Pubmedia "not capitalized nor organized" to fully benefit from digital media, Bole says

Rob Bole, CPB's veep of digital media strategy, says on the Media Future Now website that public broadcasting isn't yet making sufficient use of digital media.

"To be frank, public media is not capitalized nor organized to take full advantage of emerging connective technologies," he says. "We have a reliable, strong broadcast infrastructure that provides free, universal service to every American. However, we are not funded to the appropriate level to build the same strength in the digital media space." He did praise last month's unique coverage of Mideast revolution news by Andy Carvin, NPR's senior social media strategist, across multiple platforms. "Andy is a rock star and a visionary of what digital media means in the news space," he said.

Bole will be speaking at the D.C.-based group's monthly meeting, on March 22.

Newton Minow calls attacks on pubcasting funding "idealogically based"

Nell Minow, a corporate governance expert, today (March 14) blogged a chat she had with her father, pubcasting pioneer Newton Minow, about the current federal funding battle. With the budget being cut to control the soaring deficit, how can America justify spending tax dollars on public broadcasting? "All of us should work to reduce federal spending," Newton Minow replied. "Cuts should be made for all programs, but what is being proposed now are not cuts — the proposals are to eliminate and end public broadcasting completely. Current federal support for public broadcasting is about $1.35 per person per year — or about two cents per person per day. If cuts are made for all federal spending, obviously public broadcasting should share proportionately — but not be totally destroyed. Current proposals are ideologically based — not financially based." The interview appeared on, CBS Interactive's business page.

WGBH helping build online TV news archive of Boston programming

Boston public broadcaster WGBH’s Media Library and Archives is partnering with the Boston Public Library, Cambridge Community TV and Northeast Historic Film to develop “The Boston TV News Digital Library: 1960-2000,” an online collection of the city’s television news heritage, it announced today (March 14). The initiative will draw on some 70,000 news stories from commercial, noncommercial and community cable television to create a central online catalog. Among the footage: A young Harvard student, Barack Obama, speaking at its law school in 1990; civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 after leading a local march of 5,000; and Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit. WGBH Archives is providing copies of its programs The Ten O’Clock News (1976-91), The Reporters (1970-73) and Evening Compass (1973-75).

Experts lay out deceptive edits, dubious ethics behind NPR sting video

Was the 11-minute NPR sting video that blasted through the mediasphere on March 8 edited in a deceptive way? Two different analyses -- the first published by The Blaze, a news and opinion website published by Glenn Beck, and the latest from David Folkenflik, NPR's media reporter -- find it was.

"It was clearly unethical -- you don't do that unless there's no other way to get the story," said Terence Smith, former media correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, in an appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources with NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard. Host Howard Kurtz also interviewed James O'Keefe, the conservative activist who produced the video sting through his right-wing investigative organization Project Veritas. O'Keefe describes himself as a journalist and defends the use of hidden cameras. "Journalists have been doing this for a long time. It's a form you use when people aren't going to tell you the truth," he tells Kurtz.

Huffington Post began pointing its readers to The Blaze and NPR's analyses at noon today, generating 1,700 comments in three hours.

On the Media devoted three segments to the NPR crisis: an assessment of how the scandal that brought down an NPR president fits in the history of political attacks on public broadcasting; a discussion of whether pubcasting should receive federal funding; and a challenge by This American Life's Ira Glass to examine whether public radio is biased towards liberalism, as the field's conservative critics allege.

Press conference in support of pubcasting set for Tuesday on Cap Hill

A "Press Conference to Defend, Not Defund, Public Media" kicks off at 1 p.m. Tuesday (March 15) on Capitol Hill, sponsored by Free Press, "to shine a spotlight on the negative impact that cuts to federal funding for public broadcasting would have on local jobs, local journalism and local communities," it says. Speakers include Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce, AFTRA President Roberta Reardon, and Craig Aaron of the Free Press Action Fund., CREDO Action and Free Press Action Fund will deliver 1 million signatures they collected defending pubcasting from funding cuts.

Lamborn aide says redrafted NPR bill vote could be Thursday

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) is working with the House GOP leadership office to redraft H.R. 69, which currently targets NPR program funding. A Lamborn aide today (March 14) told Current that they anticipate the bill to be on the House floor Thursday for debate and vote. The new bill will prohibit direct federal funding of NPR, as well as ban the use of federal funds from CPB for payment of dues by local radio stations to NPR.

December pledge down but March looking strong, PBS says

PBS says stations raised $32 million in the last pledge period in December, down 8 percent on average from a year ago, reports the New York Times today (March 14). So far the March drive shows a 31 percent increase in the number of dollars pledged compared with March 2010. Since 2005, the average amount of time PBS member stations pledge has increased by 9 percent; some stations now devote 10 weeks a year to the special shows, the Times notes.

State of the News Media: Tech advances add "new layers of complexity" for industry

The State of the News Media 2011 from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism was released this morning (March 14). "The biggest issue ahead may not be lack of audience or even lack of new revenue experiments," its overview says. "It may be that in the digital realm the news industry is no longer in control of its own destiny. News organizations — old and new — still produce most of the content audiences consume. But each technological advance has added a new layer of complexity—and a new set of players—in connecting that content to consumers and advertisers."

The authors of the eighth annual report estimate that 1,000 to 1,500 more newsroom jobs will have been lost in 2010, translating to a 30 percent drop in newsroom staff since 2000.

Here are comments from news analyst Rick Edmonds, who has contributed to each report. Of particular concern to Edmonds: When asked what would happen "if my local newspaper no longer existed," only 28 percent said “that would have a major impact on my ability to keep up with local news and information.” Another 30 percent said it would have a minor impact and 39 percent said it would have no impact. And mobile news users were even more dismissive of newspaper content.

The project also contains a report on how American newspapers fare relative to those in other countries, two reports on the status of community media, a survey on mobile and paid content in local news, and a report on African American media.