Jan 18, 2010

KALW beta testing news website

San Francisco's KALW-FM launched a new website today that combines local news, arts and culture coverage and community engagement. features reporting from the station's drive-time newsmagazine Crosscurrents and provides links to reporting by other local news organizations. It also invites users to share their stories, report on their communities and submit comments or commentaries. One of the five reporting beats carved out by the KALW newsroom--criminal justice coverage--will expand under NPR's Argo Project, a national-local pilot testing station-based approaches to online news coverage, according to Holly Kernan, news director. was developed in collaboration with Margaret Rosas of Quiddities, the Santa Cruz-based company that received a Knight Foundation grant to develop an open source web publishing system for public radio stations. Kernan described the launch as a beta test. "This is an experiment in public media," she said.

"Think Tank" ending 15-year run

The long-running weekly pubaffairs series Think Tank With Ben Wattenberg is ceasing production at the end of the month, according to a press release. "It is no secret that it is very hard to raise money for any kind of media underwriting or advertising now, public or private," Wattenberg said in the statement. "But I hope that when the economy turns around, which I believe has already begun, we will be back not only with our weekly public television program, but with some exciting specials which are already in development." Over the past 15 years guests have included legal scholar Robert Bork, economists Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith former ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and congressman Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Audience study fails to think outside the box, Hill says

Public radio needs to completely re-engineer itself for the networked environment, writes Hearts of Space producer and host Stephen Hill, in a critique of public radio's Grow the Audience project final report. The recommendations "are mostly bland reiterations of the core values of the public media catechism . . . , cautiously extending a toe outside the box while continuing to view the world from inside it," he writes. "This approach cannot work, because innovation is not needed at the level of the public radio value system. Nor will modest, incremental online innovations be sufficient. What is needed is a new set of incentives and structural relationships between the major elements of the system and the audience that will enable and fuel an expanded set of digital services with their own logical business models" [Emphasis in original]. Hill, who produces radio programs and operates a subscription-based online music service, has been a leading advocate for creation of a comprehensive web service of pubcasting content. Hill's critique is adapted from a report he wrote for the Grow the Audience project last summer.