Jul 12, 2011

Mississippi Public Broadcasting selects newspaper editor as new director

Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., for nearly a decade, is the new head of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, the newspaper reports. MPB's former executive director, Judith Lewis, resigned last September after her controversial decision to discontinue Fresh Air (Current, July 26, 2010). Agnew was selected as the 50th recipient of the Samuel Talbert Silver Em Award, the University of Mississippi’s highest journalism honor. He serves as a member of the American Society of News Editors’ board of directors and chairs its diversity committee. Agnew has worked at Gannett newspapers in Hattiesburg and Cincinnati as well as Jackson for most of the past 20 years. Leaving the newspaper, as one of the few black editors heading a U.S. daily, is wrenching, Agnew told Richard Prince, author of the Maynard Institute blog on media diversity. "I am assured that I will have more time to spend with my family," Agnew said. "This move is about family. ... This move is about taking Mississippi Public Broadcasting to the next level through knowledge as a journalist gleaned over 27 years."

David Axelrod calls Juan Williams' new book "well worth reading"

Former NPR news analyst Juan Williams' book hits stores next week. Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate chronicles the months after he said on Fox News that he felt uneasy with airline passengers wearing traditional Muslim garb. NPR fired him, which riled conservatives and triggered a firestorm on Cap Hill during important pubcasting funding hearings. The Atlantic notes that David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, is quoted in a blurb on the book's cover: "For any American who fears the coarsening of our political debate has become an impediment to our progress as a people — and, more importantly, is wondering how to fix it — Juan Williams has written a book well worth reading." Publication date: July 26. The Crown Publishers book is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

PBS SoCal breaks ground for new production headquarters in Costa Mesa

PBS SoCal, the primary network affiliate in Los Angeles since the departure of KCET in January, broke ground July 7 on a digital media production studio headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif. Station President Mel Rogers did the ceremonial honors, with the help of city officials, board representatives, major donors and PBS star Clifford the Big Red Dog. Rogers also unveiled a $14 million Education and Community through Media initiative that he said will “build a solid platform for PBS SoCal’s future.”

The initiative calls on the private sector to help the station establish education, production, communications and sponsorship sales branch offices in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs; create a PBS SoCal “One Community” mobile studio and classroom; form a national digital content creation division to produce programming for local and national audiences; expand PBS SoCal Education’s Ready to Learn and K-12 services; and bolster the content and visibility for PBS SoCal’s OC Channel.

From left, Russ Leatherby of Leatherby Family Offices; Mary Lyons, PBS SoCal Board secretary; Dr. Jo Ellen Chatam, PBS SoCal Board president; Ed Arnold, host of Real Orange; Clifford; Rogers; Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan; Heidi Cortese of R.C.C. Inc. and S. Paul Musco of Gemini Industries. (Image: Wayne Todd/PBS SoCal)