Nov 2, 2011

NewsHour's David Chalian will head Yahoo News D.C. bureau

Yahoo News is reporting that it has hired PBS NewsHour's political editor, David Chalian, as its Washington bureau chief. Chalian came to NewsHour in July 2010 from ABC News, where he won an Emmy for his role in coverage of President Barack Obama's inauguration. At NewsHour, he directed political coverage across  broadcast and digital platforms, as well as managing editorial content from the program's congressional, White House, and Supreme Court beats. He also appeared in political webcasts on the Online NewsHour and developed additional digital political content. Chalian will start at Yahoo News on Nov. 14 and report to Will Tacy, executive editor.

Pubcasters sign on with new Future of TV Coalition

Several pubcasting groups are part of the new Future of TV Coalition, just announced by the National Association of Broadcasters, which "unites organizations that have expressed concern that legislative and regulatory initiatives currently under discussion in Washington could jeopardize the future of over-the-air broadcasting." Pubmedia members include the Center for Asian American Media, MHz Networks, Native American Public Telecommunications, Pacific Islanders in Communications and Vme Media.

Vme's founder and president, Carmen DiRienzo, spoke at the luncheon Tuesday (Nov. 1) announcing the initiative. "Digital television is a huge, free and important part of the digital future," she said. "Its absence would diminish the amount, quality and diversity of voices, thought and experience that Vme and other networks like it provide." She said that if free, over-the-air TV were not protected, it would "disenfranchise millions of Americans and most especially the very hard-working, inspiring Latinos that Vme and public television are so proud to serve."

Audie Cornish to host ATC for upcoming election year

NPR announced today (Nov. 2) that Audie Cornish will spend one year as co-host of All Things Considered, as Michele Norris steps down while her husband works for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Cornish will move from her Weekend Edition Sunday hosting gig to ATC in early January — a spot she recently took over from Liane Hansen, who retired in May. NPR is conducting an internal search for a one-year host for Weekend Edition Sunday. In a note to staff Nov. 1, acting Senior Vice President of News Margaret Low Smith said: “While it was a tough decision to move Audie (albeit temporarily) from a program she has quickly made her own, her skills and experience make her the ideal person to step in. . . . And, in an election year, her experience covering Capitol Hill and the 2008 presidential election will be a huge plus.”

It's bluegrass, in a 333-foot-deep cave, on PBS

Bluegrass Underground, the unique public TV show recorded live 333 feet below ground at Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, Tenn., has caught the attention of  The Associated Press (via Huffington Post). Radio broadcasts from the venue have aired since 2008 on Nashville’s country music stalwart WSM-AM. Now PBS is distributing concerts in HD video and Surround Sound, produced by a partnership of the production company Loblolly Ventures, PBS member station WCTE in Cookeville, Tenn., and Emmy-winning producer Todd Jarrell.

The series is recorded in the Volcano Room, a 500-seat venue carved by water over the past 3.5 million years. The series strays somewhat from purist bluegrass, with Season 1 acts including Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Darrell Scott, 18 South, Mike Farris and the McCrary Sisters, Cherryholmes, Justin Townes Earle, Mountain Heart, Will Hoge, John Cowan, Monte Montgomery and the Farewell Drifters.

Underwriters include the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Nissan and the City of McMinnville.

Back to the drawing board for WBEZ's "Eight Forty-Eight"?

As Chicago’s WBEZ works on plans to double its output of original local news programming, proposed scenarios for scaling up production have fueled speculation over the future of its local flagships Eight Forty-Eight and Worldview.

Crain’s Chicago Business cited unnamed sources in reporting that Eight Forty-Eight will go on extended production hiatus as its format is reviewed, but WBEZ chief Torey Malatia says those decisions are weeks – and possibly months – down the road.

“The idea here is to add hours — not to take away hours,” Malatia tells veteran Chicago media critic Robert Feder. “Over a period of time, we want to add hours and do more live, original talk during the day. It’s not in our interest to go backwards. It’s in our interest to add.”

Over the next few years, Malatia wants to potentially double production of WBEZ-original programs airing during mid-days. The proposal, first unveiled in August, responds to the emergence of two news-talk competitors on Chicago's FM channels.

“What we’re trying to do is to find a modified way of doing discussion programming that incorporates more product that has been pre-produced from the reporters and the city room, as well as what the bloggers are doing, and use some of that material for broadcast,” Malatia told Feder, a former blogger for Chicago Public Media's Vocalo service. Feder now covers media for Chicago Time Out.

State legislator wants to phase out all funding to Oklahoma Network

Funding for OETA — The Oklahoma Network is in a state lawmaker's bulls-eye for elimination. Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Tuttle) said she will introduce a bill next year to reduce state aid to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority 20 percent annually over the next five years. She discussed the plan Tuesday (Nov. 1) before the state House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education, reports the Oklahoman newspaper. “As long as the public dollars are being put in there, there is no reason for the privates to step up,” Osborn said. “It's not a matter that this is not a worthy agency, that this is not a worthy program. But it's just that we don't have the dollars anymore for anything that is not a core essential need. It's just a fiscal reality.”

State support of OETA has fallen from nearly $5.2 million in fiscal 2009 to $3.8 million this fiscal year. Most state agencies received significant cuts during the past three years because the state faced dire revenue shortfalls, the newspaper noted. OETA cuts have prompted layoffs and the reduction of a weeknight newscast to one night a week, said John McCarroll, OETA's executive director. Several locally produced programs also were eliminated.

In the last fiscal year, state funding made up 39 percent of OETA's $10.2 million budget, according to the station's annual report. Viewer contributions accounted for 22 percent, or $2.2 million.

Editorial Integrity group examining transparency in pubmedia

Could transparency become as important as objectivity in public media newsgathering? That was part of the discussion last week when a group of public broadcasting leaders, academics and journalists met last week in Madison, Wisc., as part of ongoing work on the Editorial Integrity for Public Media initiative (background, Current, April 4, 2011), writes CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan. Among some of that working group's recommendations are to post entire interviews when an interview is edited for broadcast; to webcast story meetings twice a year so that audiences can gain a sense of the station's decision-making process; and to disclose all of the grant funding sources on its website. The working group's papers may be read online here; a final complete draft is being submitted to the CPB Board at its meeting next week in St. Louis.