Mar 19, 2010

PBS arts programming disappoints columnist

In today's column Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal's drama critic, laments what he terms PBS's "slow but steady shrinkage of airtime devoted to the fine arts, and the increasing trivialization of such cultural programming as does manage to make it onto the network." Furthermore, "any TV network that claims to be 'public' should be offering more than the ultrasafe programming in which Great Performances specializes."

Will do-gooder pubcasters in South Dakota lose state money?

Now it's South Dakota pubcasting that may face state funding reductions. The Daily Republic in Mitchell, S.D., reports that Republican state legislator Noel Hamiel suggested this week at a town forum that the state consider pulling back funding to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, which he dubbed one of the capital's "sacred cows." He added: “I would like to see public broadcasting wean itself from public funding.” But Democrat Frank Kloucek quickly countered, “I think that sometimes we lose sight of what is for the public good. SDPB does a lot of good for our communities.”

System needs evolution, not revolution, writes digital strategist Rob Bole

Public broadcasting thought leader Rob Bole declares himself an evolutionist -- at least when it comes to the growth of the pubcasting system into the public media future. In a new post on his personal opinion blog, he writes: "The Rube Goldberg machine of public broadcasting is a strange creature and while it looks painful, for what we have asked of it, it has largely worked. Changing it too rapidly is a bad idea. Leaving it alone is even worse. ... My framework for governing the public broadcasting transformation is grounded in the belief that changes should be evolutionary, not revolutionary." Bole, CPB's v.p. for Digital Media Strategies, goes on to illustrate his point by referencing his father's old Buick, Scotty from Star Trek, the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and a horde of barbarians that issue forth "a collective full-throated ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!"

Newsweek editor, Bryant Park co-host are faces of new PBS Friday-night hour

WNET confirmed yesterday that Alison Stewart, former cohost of NPR’s Bryant Park Project, and Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, will be co-hosts of Need to Know, the new PBS newsmag that begins May 7. The program will fill 60 of the 90 minutes that PBS has allotted to Bill Moyers' Journal and Now on Friday evenings. Politically progressive fans of the two retiring shows flooded the in-box of PBS ombudsman Michael Getler with most of the past week’s 3,000 e-mails, Getler wrote yesterday. The e-mails seemed to be prompted, Getler said, by an alert from the liberal press watchdog FAIR tarring Meacham as “a consummate purveyor of middle-of-the-road conventional wisdom with a conservative slant,” judged unlikely to do the “hard-hitting” journalism of Now and Moyers. See Current's March 22 issue for more.

"Major news initiative" coming from CPB next week

CPB next Thursday announces a major news initiative to help stations produce more in-depth local journalism. CPB President Pat Harrison will detail the project, joined by the PBS President Paula Kerger and NPR President Vivian Schiller (via live video feed). Following will be a panel discussion on the role of pubmedia in reporting, with Hari Sreenivasan, PBS NewsHour correspondent; Tom Rosenstiel, director of PEW's Project for Excellence in Journalism; Nishat Kurwa, news director of Youth Media International; Tom Karlo, general manager of KPBS TV-FM; and Kinsey Wilson, NPR's senior v.p. and general manager of Digital Media. The event will be streamed live from the Newseum in Washington. Public broadcasting has been working to step into the widening news gap as newspaper staffs diminish. CPB has issued several RFPs on "strengthening local journalism," and a network of five local journalism centers is part of pubradio's Grow the Audience initiative (Current, Jan. 11).