Jun 16, 2010

WBUR and PRX pubcasters win Knight News Challenge awards

Pubcasters have been awarded two of 12 grants from the Knight News Challenge, which funds digital technology for innovative journalism efforts, the Knight Foundation announced today (June 16). This fourth round of winners in the international contest received $2.74 million in grants.

John Davidow of WBUR in Boston got $250,000 for his Order in the Court 2.0. Davidow wants to provide the public greater access to the judicial process by establishing best practices for digital courts coverage that can be replicated nationwide. He envisions a courtroom area for live blogging via WiFi, and live streaming of proceedings. He'll also work with Massachusetts courts to publish a daily docket on the web and build an online glossary of common legal terms.

Jake Shapiro of PRX received $75,000 for its StoryMarket. This is an outgrowth of a project created by a 2008 challenge winner, StoryMarket will allow the public to suggest and help pay to produce stories for local pubradio stations. When the necessary cash is raised, the station hires a professional journalist to do the report.

The Knight News Challenge is a five-year program; more on it here. Previous Challenge winners in pubcasting include Margaret Rosas at KUSP in Santa Cruz, who won $327,000 in 2008 to develop Radio Engage, an open-source software package for pubradio stations (Current, Sept. 2, 2008).

South Carolina ETV keeps state funding

Good news out of South Carolina. State lawmakers continue to debate their way through overriding Gov. Mark Sanford's 107 budget amendments, but they've decided to spare South Carolina ETV the ax, reports local ABC affiliate News 4 in Charleston. At risk was more than $5 million of its $10 million in state support.

Filmmaker focusing on West Virginian National Guard returns from Iraq

West Virginia Public Broadcasting filmmaker Chip Hitchcock last week returned from Iraq, where he was embedded for nearly three weeks with a National Guard unit from Dunbar, W. Va., the Charleston station reports. “In my opinion, there’s nowhere near enough media coverage of U.S. troops in Iraq anymore,” Dunbar said. The Dunbar unit trains Iraqi police and justice officials, "the most important thing that American troops still have to do,” he said. Hitchcock also has produced a series of four documentaries featuring West Virginians telling their stories after coming home from deployment in Iraq, titled "Bridgeport to Baghdad."

Public Interactive's new Web publishing service to be built on Drupal

Public Interactive has chosen Drupal, the open source content management system, for the new web publishing system that is about to launch piloting on six client station websites, including one created through a content partnership between KUT and the Texas Tribune. Doug Gaff, PI's new director of technology, announced the decision on the Inside NPR blog: "While all of the major CMSes are excellent in their own right, Drupal was an especially good fit for the platform. It’s one of the most extensible and general-purpose CMSes in use today. It has one of the strongest and most active open source communities. The module library is very extensive and diverse. Drupal is well suited for deploying to mobile devices, and there is a strong affinity for Drupal in the public media space." Some pubcasting stations have already adopted Drupal for online publishing: San Francisco's KALW Radio, for CrossCurrents, a local news program with a dynamic website, and WGBH in Boston, for the website of its new World multicast channel. Bob Lyons, director of radio and new media initiatives, told Current that WGBH is using Drupal for some other websites as well--small ones that its digital team wants to launch quickly.

WNET settles federal probe of grant handling

WNET announced yesterday (June 15) that it reached a settlement of a dispute with the federal government over the station’s use and accounting of millions in grants. The station said in a release that it agreed to repay $950,000 to the government and forgo reimbursement of about $1 million in expenses under awarded grants it has not yet received. The federal investigation revealed last year (Current, Sept. 21, 2009) involved $13 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. As part of the settlement, WNET hired compliance officer Evelyn Mendez and “adopted a plan to make sure issues of this nature don’t arise again,” President Neal Shapiro wrote in a memo to the staff. Papers settling the case were filed in federal district court. “I’m pleased that this episode is behind us,” Shapiro said in the staff memo. “As I told you back in the fall, we have continued to receive project grants from the same agencies that called for the investigation, but have not drawn from those grants. We can now move forward.”