Jul 21, 2010

PBS brings onboard new corporate communications veep from AOL

Anne Bentley is joining PBS as vice president of corporate communications, the network announced today (July 21). Among other duties, she will be PBS's chief corporate spokesperson. Bentley spent 13 years at AOL, most recently as the senior veep of corporate communications at the global Internet services and media company. Prior to AOL, Bentley worked in publishing, creating publicity campaigns for fiction and nonfiction titles including the Nan A. Talese imprint at Doubleday Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Levi Strauss & Co., Time-Life Books, and Viking/Penguin publishers. (Image: PBS)

MPB fires reporter for leaking Fresh Air memo

There's one more voice that's off the air of Mississippi Public Broadcasting following the state network's cancellation of Fresh Air.

Carl Gibson, whose first job out of journalism school was covering the state capitol for MPB, was fired on Friday for leaking an internal memo about the state network's decision to drop the NPR-distributed show. Gibson was just returning from an assignment covering the Gulf Coast oil spill, he said, when controversy over MPB's cancellation erupted over the blogosphere on July 15. Friends at the Jackson Free Press, the state's only alternative newspaper, approached Gibson as a source, and he wanted to help them get the story straight, he told Current.

The Free Press's July 16 story points to the discrepancy between MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis's official statement describing the "careful consideration and review" given to the decision to drop Fresh Air and the email that Gibson leaked, which was written by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell shortly after the axe came down. Farrell notified MPB staff July 8 that the show was being dropped immediately "due to content issues with the program," according to Free Press. Farrell sent the memo less than 24 hours after MPB aired the Fresh Air interview in which comedian Louis C.K. discussed why he had sex with his shirt on. MPB has pointed to this edition of Fresh Air as an example of the content it found inappropriate.

Leaking the memo was a violation of MPB policy, Gibson acknowledged, but he mostly regrets sending it from his office email account, which was traceable. "I was not the only one leaking emails; I was the only one that got caught." He believes that, by canceling Fresh Air, MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis violated another important policy: MPB's commitment not to censor or edit programs for broadcast "solely out of fear of complaint."

MPB has not responded to Current's request for comment.

NewsHour exec moves to president's post at MacNeil Lehrer Productions

Simon Marks has been named president of MacNeil Lehrer Productions, according to a statement from the program. He's currently associate executive producer at the production company's signature show, PBS NewsHour. Marks oversees daily production of the NewsHour broadcast and digital news. He also helped develop and spearheaded the recent integration of the show's broadcast and online operations (Current, Jan. 11, 2010). He has produced and reported for the program since 1994. He replaces Lester Crystal, who is retiring. Marks assumes his duties on Sept. 1. (Image: NewsHour)