Mar 18, 2011

NPR Music, where it's at

A stream on NPR Music "carries as much cultural weight as an appearance on Saturday Night Live or the cover of Rolling Stone," according to today's (March 18) Washington Post. Bertis Downs, manager of R.E.M., told the paper, “When we sit around thinking, ‘How do we get attention?’ — they’re at the top of the list.” Downs recently helped the legendary alt-rockers get their new album streamed on the site. “We know that’s where the audience is,” he said. Traffic on NPR Music has quadrupled since it launched in 2007, the Post notes, and it currently accounts for about 14 percent of the eyeballs visiting

Brackets, a la public broadcasting

March Madness? Bah. Here's Masterpiece Madness, in honor of the PBS icon's 40th anniversary. Yes, brackets pitting popular characters against one another. New matches will appear daily for three weeks, voting lasts 24 hours per match. One first-round throwdown: Inspector Lewis vs. Kurt Wallander? Whew, this is tougher than we thought.

Nova hires production company for "Japan's Killer Quake," to air March 30

Nova and Channel 4 in the U.K. are commissioning London's Pioneer Productions to produce "Japan’s Killer Quake," an original one-hour documentary on the ongoing disaster Japan, to air at 9 p.m. Eastern on March 30. The production company also produced "Emergency Mine Rescue," another quick turnaround project, on last year's Chilean mine disaster. Nigel Henbest will produce the film. Howard Swartz, Nova executive producer, will oversee the project for WGBH/Nova; commissioning editor for Channel 4 is David Glover.

Public Radio International, American Public Media react to passage of H.R. 1076

In addition to banning use of federal funding for NPR programming, H.R. 1076, which passed the House Thursday (March 17), also prohibits stations from using that money to purchase shows from other distributors, including Public Radio International and American Public Media. Here are their statements in reaction to the bill's passage.

From Public Radio International

Public Radio International is appalled by the passage of H.R. 1076. Not only will this bill inhibit stations’ ability to serve local audiences and stifle producers’ development of new content, it will also limit public access to global news and information that US citizens demand. By being prohibited from using federal funds to purchase content from PRI, millions of listeners will no longer have access to BBC World Service, PRI’s The World, Studio 360, This American Life and dozens of other programs that offer a diversity of perspectives on and insights into our increasingly connected global society.”

From American Public Media

We believe that American Public Media would indeed be affected by H.R.1076, most directly via the stipulation barring stations from using federal funds to acquire any public radio program content. The bill would affect the entire public radio system, and not just NPR as it is being presented.

Pubcasters should tout value of their "vital role" in news coverage, authors say

 Len Downie Jr. and Robert Kaiser "are concerned that, in the heat of the debate, members of Congress may not realize the changing role that public radio stations, working with NPR, play in informing citizens in their communities," the two write in today's (March 18) Washington Post. Downie, a former Post editor, and Kaiser, an associate editor at the paper, are also co-authors of  The News About The News: American Journalism in Peril. The two detail the growing importance of the pubcasting system in reporting local news, citing CPB's local journalism centers (Current, April 5, 2010). "The public broadcasting community has appeared flustered by the ferocity of its critics’ attacks," they write, "some of which are ideologically motivated. But most members of Congress are sent to Washington by communities with NPR member stations, which could do a better job of selling their increasingly vital role in news reporting."

H.R. 1076 "unlikely" to find traction in Senate; Majority Leader praises NPR

The House bill approved Thursday (March 17) to keep pubradio stations from spending federal money for NPR dues and programming are "unlikely" to go anywhere in the Senate, the National Journal reports. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House are both opposed.

"I listen to NPR every day,” Reid said in a statement National Journal Daily. “Like many Americans, my children and I have benefited from the educational and news programs public radio provides every day of the year. Public radio and the top-notch journalists it employs are valuable resources to people of all ages across the country and I can't understand why Republicans would want to take that away from them."

Latest sting video from O'Keefe "reveals" Soros foundation supports NPR

Conservative muckraking videographer James O'Keefe has released a third video from his recent NPR sting, which Media Matters for America notes "instantly falls apart." On his Project Veritas website, O'Keefe says "the public will learn for the first time that George Soros's Open Society Foundation has donated to NPR in the past, starting as many as 15 years ago." As Media Matters points out, that's long been public information — because NPR has issued press releases about the grants. Plus, they're all listed on NPR's tax documents.