Sep 19, 2011

CPB to ask for $451 million for fiscal 2015

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting soon will request $451 million in advance funding for 2015, Tim Isgitt, CPB's government affairs s.v.p., told board members in Washington, D.C. today (Sept. 19). That's up slightly from the $445 million for the system in President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget, which forward-funds FY14. CPB is also asking for $20 million in digital funding for 2013, Isgitt said, for collaborative station infrastructure projects, educational media support for teachers and public safety initiatives.

And Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations advocacy organization, told the board that he's "feeling a little bit better" about those funding prospects on Capitol Hill, compared with the brutal budget battles earlier this year. "We've found more of our public adversaries are starting to come around when they better understand what we do," he told the board. "It's not the rabid opposition we were facing in the early months of the year." Butler, a longtime D.C. insider who began work with APTS in January, said he recently had a chance encounter at the National Archives with Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), a pubcasting foe who has sponsored bills to defund NPR and CPB this year. "I complimented him on being such a gentleman in his substance-based in approach to issues," Butler said, and Lamborn told Butler that he'd like to hear more about public broadcasting's work. "Other historic adversaries are also beginning to acknowledge there's more to our story than they thought," Butler added. The CPB Board meeting continues Tuesday, with leadership elections on the agenda.

Blogosphere lashing for NPR report that went straight down the middle

As Jay Rosen sees it, "he said, she said" reporting is a "lame formula" for fact-based news reporting, a method of presenting opposing points of view that is out-dated and gutless. When Rosen, an NYU j-school professor who blogs at Press Think, found an example of "he said, she said" reporting in NPR's Sept. 8 story on regulations on abortion clinics in Kansas, he called down the network in a series of posts that accused NPR of being cowardly:

"NPR has, in this case, allowed its desire to escape criticism to overwhelm its journalistic imagination," Rosen wrote. "'He said, she said' does not serve listeners. It tries to shield NPR from another round of bias attacks. That’s putting your needs—for political refuge—ahead of mine as a listener. . . . And one more thing, a little lesson in realism. They’re going to attack you anyway, and crow in triumph when your CEO is forced out by those attacks. Ultimately there is no refuge, so you might as well do good journalism."

Rosen's critique, which he also posted on Tumblr, drew responses from current NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, former Ombud Jeffrey Dvorkin and former NPR News chief Bruce Drake.

All three agreed at least in part with Rosen's critique, but Drake took it one step further: "Speaking in general, if he-said-she-said reporting is one of the lowest forms of journalism in existence, then the resort to the 'We get attacked by both sides' is the lowest form of justification or defense when a piece of reporting is question," he wrote. "It’s stating the obvious to say such a response doesn’t cut it simply because it doesn’t deal with the substance of the criticism of a story’s reporting."

Schumacker-Matos, who signed on as NPR ombudsman in June, had invoked the "hit from both sides" response in his defense of NPR and reporter Kathy Lohr.

This post has been corrected: An earlier version mistakenly confused Bruce Drake, NPR News chief from September 2000 to 2005, with KPCC President Bill Davis, a former NPR programming v.p. who is a member of the NPR Board.

PBS steals big wins from HBO at Primetime Emmys

At the Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night (Sept. 18), premium cable channel HBO "was beaten up in prestige categories by an unlikely foe — public broadcasting, which gets its funding from the government and viewer contributions," reports the Los Angeles Times. PBS won 14 statuettes (including the earlier Creative Emmy presentations) compared with HBO's 19, but Masterpiece's "Downton Abbey" walked away with some of the night's top honors, generally reserved for big-money HBO productions. The Brit import about an aristocratic family in pre-World War I England won for TV miniseries or movie; Julian Fellowes, series creator, also won the writing award in that category; and director Brian Percival and supporting actress Maggie Smith took those honors. A full list of winners here.