Nov 5, 2010

Longtime "Washington Week" panelist McDowell dies

Newspaper columnist Charles McDowell Jr., an 18-year panelist on Washington Week in Review and contributor to several documentaries by Ken Burns, died early this morning (Nov. 5) in Virginia Beach, Va. He was 84.

For Burns, McDowell appeared in an interview in The Congress, spoke a character's voice in The Civil War and did voice and consulting work on Baseball.

He was a Washington Week in Review panelist from 1978 to 1996. McDowell also narrated or hosted other PBS programs including Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings, Richmond Memories and For the Record.

A memorial service is set for Nov. 13 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

CPB funding could be reduced, but probably not eliminated: Report

A comprehensive post-election analysis from the powerhouse Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs is cautiously optimistic that public broadcasting funding will not be zeroed out, despite recent calls by conservatives to end that support.

While the furor over the firing of NPR commentator Juan Williams has generated a flurry of demands to end federal financial backing of the pubcasting system, the Patton Boggs analysts expect the controversy won't significantly endanger that support. Also, the Republican takeover of the House and increased presence in the Senate don't necessarily signal a cash catastrophe. " ... [W]e do not expect federal funding for NPR or public broadcasting will be eliminated," especially because the White House strongly opposes those cuts. The last attempts to do so "were not successful because supporters of popular programming rallied to defend the appropriation, and we expect a similar outcome this year."

However, challenging times remain ahead. "While funding for the CPB is not likely to be ended, we do believe that future appropriations for public broadcasting may be reduced from present levels, as they were in the early years of the last Republican Congress." The report, "President Barack Obama and the Closely Divided 112th Congress: An Angry Electorate Has Spoken, Now What?," is available free online (PDF).

It's "Social Media Day" on Poynter; view event online

The Poynter Institute's "Finding the Future of Journalism: Social Media Day" is live streaming until 5 p.m. Eastern today (Nov. 5); watch it here (live blog is directly beneath the schedule, takes a few seconds to load). Matt Thompson, editorial product manager for NPR's Project Argo, speaks from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on "From Stories to Streams: The Evolution of the Beat."

In other Poynter news, the institute announced today that is will collaborate with the Online News Association for training, events and digital content next year. ONA members will receive discounts on training, and Poynter will work with the association and the Newseum to promote and archive the Online Journalism Awards.

Battle brewing over proposed staff cuts at KPFA

More than 100 people joined a picket outside Pacifica's KPFA-FM in Berkeley yesterday (Nov. 4), protesting staff cuts proposed by Pacifica Foundation Executive Director Arlene Englehardt to help close a reported $1.1 million budget shortfall. “We’re here because we understand there is a plan afoot to cut ¼ of the staff at the station,” Sasha Lilley, protest organizer and KPFA co-host, tells the local news website Berkeleyside. “These are difficult times economically but there are alternatives to cutting staff.” The station has lost more than $500,000 in listener support and other funding over three years, KPFA and Pacifica Foundation board member Tracy Rosenberg told the San Jose Mercury News. KPFA fundraising has brought in $2.5 million this year, far below what's needed to meet is $3.6 million budget, Rosenberg said. In a post on Radio Survivor, Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar writes: "[B]asically Pacifica’s plan appears to be to pretty much let volunteers do the broadcasting."

Update: Lilley is disputing financial details that Pacifica board member Tracy Rosenberg provided to the San Jose Mercury News. KPFA raised more than $3.5 million last fiscal year, "enough to cover its operating expenses (before paying dues to Pacifica)," she wrote in an email. KPFA also cut its personnel costs by 20 percent in fiscal 2010, but the savings have only begun to show up on its balance sheets, she wrote.

End of state funding kills Ready to Learn at KEET

State support for Ready to Learn at KEET-TV in Eureka, Calif., was discontinued last month, ending the program that had been a staple of the station's outreach for 14 years, reports the local Times-Standard. KEET Executive Director Ron Schoenherr told the paper that the cut, which wiped out the vast majority of the program's budget, came as a shock to him. Station staff are scurrying to replace the $30,000 annual state cash with local donations and grants. California Department of Education Child Development Division Director Camille Maben said the cut was part of a line-item veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the $50 million Child Development Block Grant from the federal level. KEET was informed on Oct. 11 that its funding was gone as of Oct. 1, Reynolds said.