Jul 27, 2012

New Orleans journalism venture won't compete with T-P, Wilson says

The new nonprofit newsroom that NPR and WWNO announced today will not compete directly with the Times-Picayne, NPR's Kinsey Wilson told Current in an interview.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on plans for a hybrid radio-digital news operation covering New Orleans, played up the potential for competition between the news outlets, but Wilson sees it differently. "I wouldn't characterize it as a competitor," said NPR's chief content officer and digital strategist. "Frankly I don't think that's how anybody locally [sees it], and certainly not how we're looking at it."

WWNO and various New Orleans community leaders attempted to rally behind the T-P when cutbacks were announced in June, Wilson said. He cited efforts to convince Advance Publications, the newspaper's owner, to reconsider its decision to suspend daily publication or to sell the paper. Discussions of an alternative news service began after it became clear that Advance was proceeding in its plan to scale back T-P's publishing to three print editions per week.

"They don't want to go head-to-head with the Times-Picayune on every different type of coverage," Wilson said, referring to those who developed plans for "They want to focus on those areas that may not get the full attention of the newspaper," Wilson said.

The new newsroom with be staffed by 10 to 20 journalists, and will produce multiplatform reporting for radio and online audiences.

NPR will provide training and technical assistance for both the broadcast and digital sides of the operation, according to Wilson, who noted that WWNO currently has such a small news footprint that the will have to be built from the ground up in time for its launch by the end of the year.

NPR will provide funding from a Knight Foundation grant awarded in December 2011 for digital expansion of member stations, and it will work to help secure other grants for the project. The exact amount NPR will be contributing is currently unknown. "It's literally coming together as we speak," Wilson said.

NPR, WWNO launching new nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans

NPR is launching a new nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans in conjunction with WWNO, the local public radio station owned by the University of New Orleans, the Wall Street Journal reports. The partners announced the changes today.

The new venture, which will include a revamped, local-news–focused WWNO lineup as well as the website, is a response to the declining resources of the city’s daily for-profit newspaper, the Times-Picayune. On June 12 the owners of the T-P announced plans to cut 201 personnel, nearly a third of its staff, and cut back print operations to three days a week beginning in the fall.

“This is an exciting opportunity to converge digital, mobile and broadcast together in a multiplatform newsroom for New Orleans,” Paul Maassen, g.m. of WWNO, said in an accompanying press release. “We are grateful for the support the community has shown for this initiative.”

Maassen will oversee the new shared newsroom and coordinate both digital and broadcast content.

According to the release, the content on will be "open source" and available free of charge to any local or national news outlet. The topics reporters will cover will include "public accountability and government, business, education, criminal justice, the environment, and arts and culture".

The new nonprofit will operate out of UNO’s campus, according to, the online arm of the T-P. The project will be funded annually by upwards of $2 million in memberships, donations and sponsorships, with major support coming from Greater New Orleans Inc., the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, and the Great New Orleans Foundation.

WWNO’s new news-oriented schedule went into effect on Monday.

This story has been updated. 

Alum group "implores" NPR's Cokie Roberts to consider heading up Louisiana State U

Several Louisiana State University alums are attempting to persuade NPR contributor and former congressional correspondent Cokie Roberts to become its next leader, reports LSU's Daily Reveille. Chancellor Mike Martin is leaving for Colorado State in August, and former LSU System President John Lombardi was fired in April.

There's even a Facebook page, Cokie Roberts for LSU.

Alum Kyle Alagood, leading the effort to draft Roberts, said her “independent clout” would be valuable. Roberts, a New Orleans native, is "someone who is recognized as a leader, removed from the political process and removed from the state, but still with a tie to it.”

Alagood said has emailed Roberts, telling her it is “imperative that the new leader or leaders be prominent Louisianans with experience and reputations beyond the state’s borders. We implore you to consider submitting your name as Louisiana State University’s next chancellor or system president.”

There’s been no response yet, Alagood said.

PBS Kids apps: "learning moments on-the-go"

Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS Kids Interactive, discusses PBS's approach in the mobile realm for children's educational content in an interview on Wired. "PBS has assembled two advisory boards to help us make sure we’re being thoughtful, purposeful and appropriate as we develop on these new platforms," DeWitt said. "Advisory board members include academics, teachers, organizations that advocate for children, and digital content experts." DeWitt said there's currently 17 PBS Kids apps available on the App Store, one Android app, "and many more projects in the pipeline."