Apr 9, 2009

FreePress sets media reform event May 14

Funding of journalism and public media are on the agenda of the full-day FreePress Summit “Changing Media” set for May 14. The media reform group FreePress puts the questions at stake in these words: “What can we do to support hard-hitting journalism? Who will fund quality public broadcasting? How will we safeguard an open and neutral Internet? When will we have Internet access for everyone?” The group says top policymakers will speak at the event, but registration is now open for 250 participants who will have their voices, too, in discussion groups and individual voting using wireless keypads. PBS will be wrapping up its four-day annual PBS Showcase event in Baltimore as the FreePress event begins. The Knight Foundation is funding the event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Tickets are free but limited in number. Details are online. Phone: 877-888-1533, ext. 603.

KERA cuts staffers, reallocates funds

KERA in Dallas is eliminating four and a half positions "so that resources can be reallocated to other areas within the organization," it said in a statement. Affected are staffers in volunteer services, data management, education programs and TV production. President Mary Anne Alhadeff said the station will use the funds to increase news and public affairs reporting and advance online services.

Q&A: Online storytelling

Amanda Hirsch, former editorial director of PBS Interactive, interviews Angela Morgenstern, senior director of PBS Interactive, in this Q&A about storytelling online. Morgenstern praises PBS KIDS GO! Broadband, "specifically, their pioneering efforts to overlay games directly onto online video. They are pushing the creative boundaries of the technologies daily, and as a result, creating an experience that will draw kids 'inside the story' in a way we haven't seen to date."

Worldfocus defends use of Al Jazeera English reports

A North Carolina congresswoman is accusing Worldfocus of airing "propoganda" from the Al Jazeera English television network. "My concern is that the American people should be pretty darn upset about the fact that their tax dollars are going to fund this," said GOP Rep. Sue Myrick. "I mean, they're already upset about what their tax dollars are going to fund, and now they're funding propaganda." The show originates from WNET and features international news. In response, e.p. Marc Rosenwasser issued a statement explaining that Worldfocus reports come from several networks including Channel 10 of Israel, Britain's ITN, Deutsche Welle of Germany, TV Globo of Brazil, Africa 24 and ABC of Australia. "Though many people who have not seen Al Jazeera English think of it as a propaganda machine for Islamic extremist causes, much of what it produces is not ideological and much is not even from that part of the world," the statement says. "We also believe Al Jazeera English does sometimes offer us and our viewers a unique perspective from various parts of the world where it has access that others don't." For more on the show, see the Current story about its launch.

NPR downsizing is a "crisis we will not waste"

Why is NPR cutting into its radio newsroom while continuing to invest in digital operations? It’s a question that’s been repeatedly posed to President Vivian Schiller as she leads the network through its latest round of budget cuts. “I’m here to tell you today, and I will continue to say this . . . until I’m blue in the face--this is a crisis we will not waste,” Schiller said during a March 30 speech at NVision 2009, a conference on the future of journalism. “The answer for us is not to retrench and just go back to what we do best, but to regroup. We have to innovate. We have to push. We have to take risks . . . . I say, we absolutely must embrace the way people use media today.” A video of Schiller’s speech, including her “to-do” list for NPR’s newsroom and digital operations is here.