May 24, 2011

Pubmedia journalists join Nieman Fellows

Three public media journalists are among the 24 new fellows selected by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Jonathan Blakley, NPR foreign desk producer, will study history, politics and social media in sub-Saharan Africa, and  examine the media environment in the United States leading into the 2012 presidential election. Kristen Lombardi, staff writer at the Center for Public Integrity, will focus on legal and social conditions that promote wrongful convictions, particularly the impact of institutional misconduct and the consequences of systemic resistance to reform. And Jeff Young, senior correspondent with PRI’s Living on Earth, will look at the full costs of energy sources and how new media might convene a more meaningful discussion of energy choices. Established in 1938, the Nieman Foundation administers the oldest midcareer fellowship program for journalists in the world. Working journalists travel to Harvard for a year of study, seminars and special events. More than 1,300 journalists from 91 countries have received Nieman Fellowships.

Maryland Public Television selects its c.o.o., Larry Unger, as new president

Larry Unger, Maryland Public Television's current chief operating officer, has been named its new president. He'll take the helm on June 30, when current President Robert Shuman retires after a 15-year tenure. Unger joined the station in 1997. Before coming to pubTV, he spent 11 years as executive vice president and group executive for the Bank of Baltimore. Unger also served for more than five years as an officer of public TV’s Major Market Group, an organization of the industry’s top 30 stations, and was instrumental in MPT's digital transition. “The elevation of Larry Unger to the No. 1 spot at MPT resulted from an extensive nationwide search over the course of several months,'' Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission Chairman Edward Kaplan said in a statement. "While the pool of finalists was an impressive one, Larry’s credentials in the Maryland business community and in public television were second to none." Unger will be the fifth president in MPT's 41-year history.

"Short-form" pledge campaign nets KALW $300,000 and 900 new members

“We’re raising good will as well as money,” says Holly Kernan, news director and host at KALW/91.7 FM in San Francisco. Instead of interrupting programming for pledge spots, the station this month conducted a “short-form” campaign of 60- and 90-second spots, many of them humorous, featuring local celebrities, reports the Knight Digital Media Center. So how did it work? The station met its goal of $300,000 and gained 900 new members. Positive comments from listeners too, including: "“Love, love, love the new pledge drive format!"

PBS announces first-ever line of PBS Kids-themed toys

PBS launched its first PBS Kids line of preschool toys today (May 24), featuring 20 wooden playthings. They'll be available exclusively on a new retail page,, through early fall, and sold through other online and in-store retailers later. The toys include a Sounds of the World Rhythm Set, one of several musical toys; a Puzzle Playset Safari; building and construction toys, such as Exploration Blocks: City (image, PBS); and Three-Layer Puzzles in barn, camping and other themes. In addition to the new toy line, the online shop offers educational books, games, toys, DVDs, customizable apparel and more based on PBS Kids programs. Proceeds from the PBS Kids Shop will help fund children's programming, PBS said. 

StoryCorps seeks Muslim voices over July 4th weekend

The StoryCorps listening project is partnering with My Faith My Voice, a platform dedicated to promoting the grassroots voice of Muslims in America, to record stories on July 4 weekend in Chicago. "The partnership will seek to humanize the American Muslim community and reflect the growing diversity of our country's national landscape," a statement said.

"Storytelling is a powerful way to break down barriers and strengthen connections between people," Haaris Ahmad, an MFMV Board Member, said in the statement. "It's time for the Muslim community to add its stories to the rich diversity and tradition of the rest of the American family."