Jul 30, 2012

Ford Foundation backs second for-profit newsroom: The Washington Post

The Ford Foundation, a frequent backer of pubmedia, has awarded another grant to a for-profit media company. Ford will give $500,000 to The Washington Post to support reporting on accountability in state and local government, according to a Post memo to staff posted on The Post will use the funds to hire four new staffers.

In May, Ford awarded the Los Angeles Times $1.04 million to cover new beats including immigration and the California prison system. At the time, pubcasting analysts told Current that a growing trend of foundations backing for-profit operations could lead to increased competition for financial support. The Post grant comes from the foundation's Freedom of Expression program, which also supports NPR, ProPublica and other pubmedia outlets.

The Post and Times grants remain small change, however, compared to the foundation's recently completed five-year, $50 million pubmedia funding initiative, as well as its support of new coverage areas in nonprofit newsrooms such as Marketplace and ProPublica.

Moyers celebrates 100,000 Facebook fans with online message

Veteran newsman Bill Moyers posted a special video message on the Moyers and Company Facebook page on Monday, to mark a milestone. "In just a few months, we've acquired 100,000 Facebook fans," Moyers said. "I know because I counted each and every one of you myself." Moyers said he and his team are proud and "deeply grateful" for the support of the online community "dedicated to truth-telling and democracy."

Jacobs Media shares findings from annual tech survey

Jacobs Media has shared some data from its fourth annual Public Radio Tech Survey. Among the statistics:
  • The number of respondents using tablets such as Apple’s iPad increased 407 percent over last year. Use of smartphones continues to grow as well.
  • Nearly half of public radio members have been members for five years or less.
  • Four of 10 listeners do most of their radio listening in cars.
  • One in 10 owns a vehicle with a “digital dashboard” such as the Ford SYNC.
  • Texting and use of social networks has continued to grow from year to year.
Jacobs Media will present the full study in a keynote address Sept. 13 at the Public Radio Program Directors conference in Las Vegas.

GPB laying off staffers as it outsources station master-control operations

Georgia Public Broadcasting is laying off eight full-time employees and nine part-timers as it outsources its master-control operations over the next 90 to 120 days, station spokesperson Nancy Zintak told Current.

Transitioning its master control to Encompass Digital Media in Atlanta will save the state network around $300,000 annually, Zintak said.

Zintak said GPB “looked very carefully” at the two CPB-backed public-broadcasting centralcasters, the Jacksonville Digital Convergence Alliance that serves seven stations from Florida, and Centralcast LLC, running controls for 13 stations in New York and New Jersey. A “huge part” of the decision, Zintak said, was that Encompass is an Atlanta-based company. “And, Encompass is up and running now,” she said. The digital media services firm has facilities in the United States, United Kingdom and Asia. Its clients include A&E Networks, CBS, Disney/ABC, BBC Worldwide, and Discovery Networks, according to TVNewsCheck — which calls the Encompass Atlanta operation "huge, complex and the first of its kind in American broadcasting."

GPB runs one main HD channel and two digital channels, GPB Kids and GBP Knowledge, which is a hybrid of the pub-affairs/documentary World channel and educational programming. GPB's main channel feeds nine stations covering 98 percent of the state.

Zintak said an employment consultant is working with affected employees, and Encompass is interviewing some for possible positions there.