Jun 6, 2011

In New Jersey, NJN to become NJTV; radio licenses go to New York Public Radio and WHYY

As expected, New York Gov. Chris Christie today (June 6) announced that New Jersey Public Media, a new nonprofit subsidiary of WNET/Thirteen in New York City, will take over the television stations of the New Jersey Network as the state ends financial support on July 1. NJN will now be known as NJTV and will continue to provide a nightly newscast, according to the New York Times. On the radio side, four state-owned licenses will be acquired outright by New York Public Radio, which operates WNYC and WQXR, and the remaining five will be purchased by the Philadelphia public broadcaster WHYY. NJN’s approximately 120 employees will lose those jobs, although they will be able to reapply for posts at the new entity, the paper reports.

Harrisburg's WITF lays off 18 staffers

WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., last week told 18 employees they are losing their jobs, according to the local Patriot-News. That will drop the number of full-time staffers from 85 to 67. The layoffs were spread throughout the operation, including technology, development and programming. Those leaving include "two of WITF's better-known radio personalities," the paper says: Craig Cohen, host of Radio Smart Talk since it started in 2008 and a nearly 10-year employee, and Melanie Herschorn, local reporter/host for All Things Considered for the last three years. "Every layoff is really a painful experience this time," said Kathleen Pavelko, station c.e.o. In February 2009, the station lost three staffers and a full-time unfilled position, and senior managers took a pay cut. The paper notes that state funding of about $900,000 a year was eliminated two years ago, and federal aid is expected to fall from $1.3 million to $650,000 in the coming year.

CPB announces new ombudsman

Joel Kaplan is the new ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, effective June 1. Kaplan is currently associate dean at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, focused on its new graduate curriculum centered on multi-media storytelling and new media platforms. He has taught classes in news writing, investigative reporting, national political reporting, communications law, ethics and public affairs reporting. He's also the author of two white papers for CPB that address the role of the ombudsman in achieving balance and objectivity within public media and in social media.

“I look forward to working with CPB to improve transparency throughout the public media system," Kaplan said in a statement, "encourage greater objectivity and balance in public media programming, and ensure the organization is responsive to audience comments and questions.”

He is a member of the advisory board for the Tully Center for Free Speech and was the first academic elected to the Board of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).

CPB established the Office of the Ombudsman six years ago (Current, April 11, 2005) as an independent office to inform the board of directors and the president of CPB about concerns related to the public media system. Ken Bode has served as ombudsman since then.