Oct 26, 2010

NPR headquarters gets bomb threat in the mail

The Washington Post is reporting that NPR headquarters today (Oct. 26) received a bomb threat in the mail. NPR sources told the paper that the letter was turned over to local police and the FBI. NPR did not publicly disclose details of the threat on the advice of law enforcement, the paper said. The letter didn't specifically reference the controversial firing of correspondent Juan Williams on Oct. 20, but NPR sources said the timing and tone suggested it was sent after his termination. NPR warned its employees Monday (Oct. 25) about a "security threat" in a staff memo, but did not provide specifics.

Activist alleges assault outside pubTV studio before election debate

Police are investigating an alleged assault outside the studios of Kentucky Educational Television in Lexington before a Congressional election debate Monday night (Oct. 25), reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. The incident occurred as Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul arrived at the KET studio to debate Attorney General Jack Conway, his Democratic opponent. Police say a Paul volunteer, Tim Proffitt, is being served with a criminal summons after he was seen on video stepping on Lauren Lizabeth Valle's head. Valle, an activist with the progressive group, was trying to give Paul a fake award portraying him as a tool of big business. The Paul campaign later issued a statement saying it had "disassociated itself from the volunteer who took part in this incident, and once again urges all activists — on both sides — to remember that their political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind.” Valle received a concussion. "The stomping was one of two reported to Lexington police outside the debate," the paper noted.

Ombudsman tries to convince readers that PBS is not NPR

In today's (Oct. 26) column, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler attempts to remind folks that "PBS is not NPR, that Juan Williams does not work for PBS, that PBS did not fire him, and that both organizations, while part of public broadcasting in this country, are separate organizations and separate public media entities." Yes, in the wake of Williams' termination from pubradio, Getler received "several hundred" calls and e-mails to him, thinking PBS was NPR. Or vice-versa.

Foundation provides KCET with $1 million for its transition to independence

KCET in Los Angeles, which is dropping PBS membership as of Jan. 1, 2011 (Current, Oct. 18), has received a $1 million grant from the Ahmanson Foundation "for the purpose of converting KCET to an independent public television station," KCET announced today (Oct. 26). In the statement, KCET President Al Jerome said the foundation has provided grants for all three seasons of SoCal Connected and also has been a longtime local underwriter for Nova.

Knight Foundation receives $2 million from Google

Google has donated $2 million to the Knight Foundation to continue its media innovation work, the foundation announced today (Oct. 26). “Journalism is fundamental to a functioning democracy, and we want to do our part to help fulfill the promise of journalism in the digital age,” said Nikesh Arora, Google's president, global sales operations and business development. During the last five years, Knight Foundation has invested more than $100 million in national media policy, technology innovation, public media work and the evolution of the Web. Several public broadcasters have been awarded grants through its Knight News Challenge, its far-reaching media innovation contest.

"This is Shock and Claw": newslink round-up of Williams dismissal

A parody of NPR's firing of Juan Williams led last night's edition of The Daily Show, and Williams appeared on NPR's Diane Rehm Show this morning. [Scroll down to second segment.] Links to other recent coverage: a Fox News producer confronts NPR President Vivian Schiller in a field segment for O'Reilly Factor; New York University J-School Professor Jay Rosen questions NPR's stated objective of preserving journalistic standards of objectivity on WBUR's On Point; and, on last weekend's edition of On The Media, Slate's William Saletan describes how Williams' selectively edited remarks went viral as a selectively edited video blog post by ThinkProgress. Saletan drew parallels between Williams' firing and the right-wing's attack on Shirley Sherrod, the U.S. Agriculture Department employee who was fired, and later reinstated, for public remarks that were taken out of context and circulated on the blogosphere.

Fallout continues over Juan Williams' firing from NPR

More than 45,000 persons have joined Free Press's drive to send letters to Congress "defending public broadcasting and standing up to extremists" who want to de-fund NPR and PBS in the wake of the firing of longtime NPR commentator Juan Williams for his comments on Muslims.

The Association for Public Television Stations also issued a statement Monday (Oct. 25) countering calls to end the funding. "There is widespread understanding that public television exists to provide what the market does not," said Interim President Lonna Thompson, "reaching underserved audiences in communities across the nation."

And g.m.'s are weighing in on the controversy. Norm Silverstein, president of WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., wrote on its website: "Whether you agree with the firing or not, once NPR allowed Williams to take on a paid role as a commentator for Fox News, at the same time he was a news analyst for NPR, it was only a matter of time before there was an explosion." WJCT President Michael Boylan in Jacksonville, Fla., told station viewers and listeners in a blog entry, "I want to assure you that this decision was made by the management of NPR without input on the part of local stations. In many respects I and many of my colleagues throughout the system share the frustration as expressed by both regular and occasional listeners and have communicated such to NPR, specifically as to how the matter was handled."

Log on Wednesday for Public Media Corps webinar

The interesting work of the Public Media Corps is the subject of Wednesday's (Oct. 27) 1 p.m. (Eastern) webinar from the National Center for Media Engagement. Corps members are working in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods to determine community needs for digital media, and encourage use of technology. The webinar will provide stations with a mid-project update and advice on how the Corps' efforts can inform other community engagement projects. Register here.

PBS partners up with new Google TV

PBS is an official Google TV launch partner, reports media business site GigaOM. The service enables users with Google Chrome and Adobe Flash Player 10.1 to watch web content on TV. Many sites, including PBS Kids, are being optimized for television viewing. But Google TV is not without controversy: The Big Three networks are blocking access to their online content. Why? As GigaOM says, "when you make it drop-dead easy to watch a full-length web episode of Modern Family on the TV via the web, what’s to stop a user from skipping the broadcast altogether?" Here's more info on Google TV from PBS NewsHour, and "Five Obstacles to Google TV" from IT World.

Three workers hurt in fall from transmission tower

Three Alpha Antenna Services workers hired by PBS affiliate WCNY in Syracuse, N.Y., to repair its 350-foot transmission tower were injured in a fall, according to the Utica, N.Y., Observer-Dispatch. State police said accident occurred at about 11:45 a.m. Monday (Oct. 25) when an antenna atop of the tower buckled during the repairs. The three were 20 to 30 feet up when they fell, police said.William Fox, 49, suffered severe facial injures; Kelly Dougherty, 30, suffered a foot injury; and Gregory Campbell, 44, went to the hospital for evaluation and was discharged.

WXXI host retiring after 20 years of questions

WXXI's Homework Hotline is losing its co-creator and host, Carol Smith, who is retiring after 20 years with the program in Rochester, N.Y., reports the Daily News Online. The Hotline enables students in grades four through 12 to get help with homework problems live on the air. It has received numerous honors, including nine New York State Broadcasters Association awards for best program or series designed for children, and Silver and Bronze Tellys. Smith is also one of the founders of Rochester's Dial-A-Teacher program. She'll be honored on WXXI-AM's 1370 Connection at noon Wednesday (Oct. 27).