Jul 23, 2009

"Mister Rogers" goes to weekly schedule

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood will only be available one episode per week beginning this fall, PBS has informed member stations. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Kevin Morrison, CEO of Fred Rogers' Family Communications Inc., cited ongoing economic woes. "PBS is operating under very tight budget constraints and it already has a full program lineup to support Monday through Friday," Morrison said. "If it was offering Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on a daily basis it would only be as an option to the existing full lineup of programs, and that option is an expensive option for them and the financial situation prevents them from making that an option." Last season stations had the option for the daily shows.

NewsHour a partner in project cited by Knight-Batten

A project highlighting the quite different economic fates of various U.S. communities, developed by the NewsHour and the Christian Science Monitor, was cited for Special Distinction in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism announced today by the J-Lab at American University. For Patchwork Nation, producers crunched data from more than 3,100 counties. The $10,000 Knight-Batten Grand Prize went to the New York Times, which is working overtime not to go extinct, developed Represent, a feed for constituents to follow city officials' activities; Custom Times a prototype personalized multiplatform report; Debate Analysis Tool, which provided a searchable scrolling text of the '08 Presidential debates, and more. Among other winners: Change Tracker, ProPublica's White-House-watcher; the Center for Public Integrity's use of digital tools for projects such as Who's Behind the Financial Meltdown?; and a free tool for under-staffed websites: Apture, which generates code for embedding videos and other media. Here's the full winners list.

Consultant fees questioned as U-Fla. stations gird for layoffs

"People who do what I do get paid a lot more than that," says Mike Harding, a media consultant who is earning $10,000 a month to lead a restructuring of the University of Florida's media properties, including WUFT-TV/FM in Gainesville. The Gainesville Sun reports that Harding, a commercial TV turn-around specialist, is being paid with funds drawn equally from the university's four broadcast stations and its College of Journalism and Communications. Paul Gordon, a veteran media ad sales exec also retained by Dean John Wright, earns $69,000 annually as interim director of WRUF-AM, a struggling sports/talk outlet, and WRUF-FM, a rock station. The Sun also reports that Wright plans to lay off five station employees within the next few weeks. "People are being laid off, and they're spending all this money on consultants," says Rita Patterson, a "friend" of station employees who was quoted by the Sun.

Scott Simon on the new "This even I know is a big improvement"

NPR unveils the "brand new" in this YouTube video featuring Scott Simon's first test-drive of the website launching July 27. The Weekend Edition Saturday host finds that the redesigned site is easier to read and navigate and features a Google-powered search engine and nifty interactive visuals. "We want to be your source for NPR news, analysis, arts & life stories and music that is always fresh and up-to-date, a source of unexpected delight and most important, a site that always upholds NPR's highest standards," write NPR Digital chief Kinsey Wilson and NPR News Executive Editor Dick Meyer, in an accompanying note to the NPR Community. "On the new site, it will be easier to combine listening and reading, to follow breaking news, to comment on our work and share it, and easier to find programming from your NPR station." They promise enhancements for NPR Mobile offerings later this summer.

NPR home pages now and protoype for next week