Oct 28, 2009

NABJ to Schiller: "Actions speak much louder than words"

The National Association of Black Journalists questions NPR commitment to diversity in this letter to Vivian Schiller, network president. The Oct. 16 firing of Greg Peppers, executive producer of newscasts, is the second dismissal of a producer of color in NPR management ranks this year. "Of the 68 members on your corporate team and behind the scenes staff, only eight are people of color," NABJ's top leaders write. "You told the National Press Club that NPR doesn't need programming for communities of color but diversity needs 'to be represented in the fabric of everything that we do.' It is NABJ's belief that actions speak much louder than your words. It is not enough to provide internships for young people or hire them into entry-level positions. Diversity must also be reflected among the managers who decide what news gets covered and who gets to cover it." Peppers, who was one of two black men in newsroom management according to NABJ, was fired and escorted out of NPR headquarters on Oct. 16, one day after NPR hosted a book signing for NABJ. Walt Swanson, an African-American journalist who was director of diversity management at NPR for six years, resigned three days later for health reasons. Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute, who reported on the departures on his blog Journalisms, has more on NPR's track record with diversity.

NPR objects when its news report is excerpted in Maine political ad

Is it fair use for opponents of Maine's same-sex marriage law to excerpt an NPR news story in a political ad? NPR said "No!" and demanded that the political action committee Stand for Marriage pull the ad from television and the Internet. But lawyers for the group rejected NPR's request. The PAC's use of the "very short audio segment" is noncommercial and is protected by the First Amendment and U.S. Copyright law, attorneys wrote in an Oct. 20 letter to NPR's deputy general counsel. Last week, NPR objected publicly. "It is critical for us to protect our credibility and the trust the audience has in us," says Dana Davis Rehm, NPR senior v.p., in this TV news report. "This ad really distorts that." With the vote on Maine's same-sex marriage referendum coming up Nov. 3, there is not really much else that NPR can do, according to this report by Maine Public Broadcasting. YouTube pulled the TV spot from its website at NPR's request, but a blogger from Michigan has reposted it. "Since NPR is taxpayer financed, that is OUR content!" he writes. You can listen to the news report in question, "Massachusetts Schools Weigh Gay Topics," here. Reported by Tovia Smith and presented on All Things Considered in September 2004, the story examined how public schools would treat gay topics after passage of the Massachusetts law legalizing gay marriage.

Storyplay connects children and far-away family for literacy play

A new research report says combining a traditional book with video conference technology and video segments bolsters "family literacy over distances," according to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. The study, funded by the Cooney Center and Nokia Research Center, looked at grandparents, parents and their children using the Storyplay concept system together. The interface enables children to initiate calls using icons on a touch screen. Then Elmo listens in, offering comments and questions when the screen is touched. The full report (PDF) is available here.

Webinar to introduce economics coverage tools for stations

Learn how to use audio and video tools, blogs, widgets, maps and apps to improve your station's economic coverage in today's Webinar from the National Center for Media Engagement and Public Radio International. It's a peer-to-peer workshop at 2 p.m. (Eastern) today to introduce the Knowledge Network, a CPB-funded site to assist stations with their coverage of the economy. Sign up here for the Webinar.

NTIA delays announcement of winning broadband stimulus bids

Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, told a congressional subcommittee that the announcement of winning bids for the broadband stimulus program will be delayed by about a month, according to Broadcasting & Cable. "We're going to take a few more weeks here to get this right," he told members of the Senate Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee on Tuesday. Many pubcasters have applied for money from the broadband stimulus program (Current, Sept. 21, 2009).

Smiley name is on one school, off another

Pubradio talker Tavis Smiley's name is being dropped from one institution, but added to another. The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs will name its new atrium after Smiley, an alum, according to the Indiana Daily Student. He recently donated $50,000 for a scholarship fund for students in that school, in Bloomington. However, Texas Southern University will strip Smiley's name from its communication school, reports the Houston Chronicle. Smiley had promised in 2004 to donate $1 million and to raise another $1 million, so the university subsequently created the Tavis Smiley School of Communication. But Smiley made one $50,000 donation in mid-2005, and brought in $250,000 from three corporate donors. Talks recently broke down after more than a year, and now the naming deal is off.

Giddyup to sign up to win a new saddle

A free saddle each month for the next year is coming from Saddle Up with Dennis Brouse. That's the pubTV series that "celebrates the storied relationship between horse and human," as it says. Your horse need a new saddle? Sign up for Brouse's email newsletter to qualify to win a custom saddle from Bronco Billy’s.

Central Michigan University bids for WFUM TV in Flint

WFUM TV in Flint, Mich., may get a new owner: Central Michigan University, according to Central Michigan Life, the university newspaper. The school's Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a $1 million bid for the station. It's currently owned by University of Michigan and broadcasts from Bay City to metro Detroit. CMU Public Broadcasting will draft a purchase agreement and interim management agreement to take over the station as soon as possible. The station has lost money since 2005 (Current, April 27, 2009).