Jun 22, 2011

Knight announces 2011 News Challenge winners; won't be the last year, it says

The 2011 class of Knight News Challenge winners were announced today (June 22) — the last recipients of the initial five-year program that the Knight Foundation Board committed to in 2006, points out Jeff Sonderman, digital media fellow at the Poynter Institute. He examined the four ways the initiative is shaping the future of news through its 63 projects funded by $22 million. Ideas popular with the Knight Foundation funders include crowdfunding, the "hacker-journalist," data as news and citizen journalism.

But fear not, thought leaders. “We won’t officially announce the next iteration of the News Challenge anytime soon … [but] we are thinking critically about how to continue to do this and do it better,” John Bracken, Knight’s director of digital media, told Sonderman. “It will not be the last year of this challenge.”

CPB salutes Lehrer for career of "straight-forward, honest reporting"

Retiring PBS newsman Jim Lehrer received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CPB Board of Directors during its meeting today in Austin, Texas. The award, only the sixth to be presented by CPB, honors outstanding individual contributions to public broadcasting and public media.

"Through his straight-forward and honest reporting on PBS NewsHour, Jim has helped public media earn its reputation as one of the most trusted organizations in the nation," said Bruce Ramer, CPB chair. "He has become the face of PBS journalism."

Lehrer, who started his public broadcasting career directing news at KERA in Dallas, recently stepped down as lead anchor of the PBS NewsHour. When the weeknightly newscast launched in 1975 as The Robert MacNeil Report, Lehrer was the broadcast's Washington correspondent.

"I am grateful to CPB," said Lehrer, "not just for this award, but for CPB's enduring support for the NewsHour and for making it possible for me to practice our kind of journalism, MacNeil/Lehrer journalism, all these years."

Students protest freeform radio silence in Nashville

Vanderbilt University students organized a silent protest of WLPN's pending purchase of Nashville's WRVU, the latest college radio station to be converted into a pubradio classical outlet. The students dressed in black, covered their mouths with black tape, and carried "Save WRVU 91.1 FM" signs during yesterday's meeting of the WPLN board of directors. Rob Gordon, WLPN g.m., and board Chair Mike Koban offered to meet with WRVU deejays. “Maybe there are changes that can be made to somewhat bridge the gap,” Koban told the Tennessean. “I mean that sincerely.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the quickening pace of change on the left end of the FM dial, where free-form college stations like WRVU are being sold and converted to public radio ownership, despite spirited protests by student broadcasters.

Penn State pubcasting loses employees in university cutbacks

The equivalent of nine full-time positions at Penn State Public Broadcasting are being eliminated in a realignment due to larger university cutbacks. WPSU General Manager Ted Krichels told the Centre Daily Times in a story today (June 22) that the $2 million budget reduction to the school's Outreach unit means a drop in the station's budget of about $500,000. “Having to eliminate their jobs is painful,” Krichels said. “It’s painful for our organization. ... At the same time, we have a very strong staff and a lot of ambitions about creating more content and programming.”

In a press release, the station said the staff reductions affected about 10 percent of total employees. But while the overall staff number is down, three new positions will focus on public service media project development, project management and new media production. "We have to streamline, and we have to reengineer our business to meet evolving demands," Krichels said in the statement.

Two New Jersey legislators want to kill NJN/WNET deal

Two New Jersey lawmakers have have introduced resolutions to void WNET's deal to manage the New Jersey Network, the Star-Ledger reported Tuesday (June 21). Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) and Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) introduced concurrent resolutions disapproving of the contract, which turns over the state’s public TV operation to a nonprofit subsidiary of New York City's WNET/Thirteen. "It is a total give-away of a very valuable asset," Diegnan said. The contract, responses and related documents are here.