May 31, 2005

"We want members who are responsive to readers, not to governments or lobby groups," said NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin in the New York Times, explaining the decision of the Organization of News Ombudsmen to deny full membership to CPB's new ombuds.

May 25, 2005

"PBS does not belong to any single constituency, no one political party, no activist group, no foundation, no funder, no agenda of any kind," asserted PBS President Pat Mitchell in a National Press Club speech reported by the Los Angeles Times. She declined to mud-wrestle with CPB Chair Ken Tomlinson: "I really don't feel it's my place to judge the motivations of someone."
Right-wing media watchdog L. Brent Bozell tappity-taps on a wedge between public TV and Bill Moyers: "Earth to PBS: When you are under attack for being a nest of left-wingers, it might not be the best strategy to let your most identifiable left-wing stars go to radical-left conferences and attack conservatives as evil." From a webzine, National Ledger.

May 24, 2005

The irony of the debate over objectivity and balance within public radio is that "the marketplace has no issues with it," writes consultant John Sutton on his blog.

May 23, 2005

The sole black employee at Milwaukee's WUWM-FM has filed a racial discrimination complaint with Wisconsin's Equal Rights Division, reports the Journal Sentinel.
"I find it upsetting that NPR sees me as competition," says Bob Edwards from his perch at XM in a Boston Globe article.
Bill Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio, tells the Minnesota Star-Tribune that he has heard nothing from CPB to indicate that the agency will stop funding MPR's national production Weekend America. A New York Times article last week said CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson had told board members the funding would end.

May 21, 2005

BBC news output will be affected Monday by the first of several limited strikes protesting plans to cut 4,000 jobs, Reuters reported. Further strikes are planned by the National Union of Journalists and two tech unions for the 48-hour period of May 31 and June 1 and for another occasion not yet set.

May 20, 2005

More on Kenneth Tomlinson/CPB: NPR reports that two years ago, Tomlinson suggested bringing in Fox News Channel anchor Brit Hume to talk to pubcasting officials about how to create balanced news progamming.
The Washington Post reviews the controversy over CPB's push to balance public broadcasting in a profile of board chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. "I never started out to make a campaign of this," he said, describing the resistance he's encountered as "symbolic of the tone-deafness" and "intellectual dishonesty" of public broadcasting's leadership. Tomlinson gives the Post a different account of his decision to address pubTV's "liberal bias" than the one he offered last week in a Washington Times op-ed. Meanwhile, in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed KQED President and PBS Board member Jeff Clarke offers his own take: "CPB officials have recently claimed that public broadcasting needs to improve its ability to reach more Americans. While we applaud such calls to improve our ability to reach more people with noncommercial public-interest programming, we do not accept assertions that public broadcasting lacks balance, or that Americans perceive public broadcasting to be biased."

May 17, 2005

Salon media critic Eric Boehlert writes that while there are plenty of questions surrounding CPB's new content monitors, "it is CPB's tapping of two ombudsmen that has most raised eyebrows in journalism circles." Said NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin: "I don't think ombudsmen should be in the Crossfire business." Salon also posts excerpts from Bill Moyers' speech at last weekend's National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis. (day-pass required)

May 16, 2005

The progressive Capital Times in Madison, Wisc., recounts Bill Moyers' Sunday speech at the National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, his first public response to CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson's well-documented quest for "balance." "I should put my detractors on notice," Moyers, 70, said. "They might compel me out of the rocking chair and into the anchor chair." Regarding Tomlinson's claim he kept his investigation of Now secret to protect PBS' image, Moyers said, "Where I come from in Texas, we shovel that stuff every day." Democracy Now! airs much of the speech in its Monday broadcast, and has posted a partial transcript on its website. More coverage in The Nation and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson worked to initiate outside studies of public radio as well as TV, the New York Times reports. "Late last year, without notifying board members or NPR, Mr. Tomlinson contacted S. Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a research group, about conducting a study on whether NPR's Middle East coverage was more favorable to Arabs than to Israelis," according to the report. Tomlinson, also head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees international broadcasting programs such as Voice of America, has continued to block NPR programming from a U.S.-owned Berlin station in favor of programming "offered by a European business executive that includes newscasts produced by the Voice of America," the Times reports. "It certainly calls into question where his allegiance lies," said NPR Chairman Tim Eby.

May 15, 2005

In 10 years, former APTS and CPB exec Ric Grefe built the American Institute of Graphic Arts from what was perceived to be a "New York club" for designers into a national organization with 52 chapters and 17,800 members, writes designer William Drenttel on his group blog, Design Observer. (Extraneous treat for dog lovers: Drenttel's dog had puppies.)

May 12, 2005

Calling CPB Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson's efforts to bring more conservatives into public broadcasting "extremely troubling," two House Democrats asked CPB's Inspector General to investigate hiring and contracting practices at the corporation, reports the Los Angeles Times. [Text of letter in PDF.]

May 11, 2005

"I don't want to achieve balance by taking programs that are the favorites of good liberals off the air," said CPB chairman Ken Tomlinson on the latest On the Media. "I want to make sure that when you have programs that tilt left, we also have some programs that tilt right so the viewer can make up his or her own mind."

May 10, 2005

The Sundance Documentary Fund, One World US, Line TV and New California Media are grantees in the Ford Foundation's $50 million public-media initiative, along with pubcasting groups such as PRX, PRI, Public Radio Capital, the minority consortia and ITVS, the foundation disclosed today.
Salon's Eric Boehlert sizes up CPB's push for balance and Ken Tomlinson pens an op-ed for the Washington Times.
Aaron Barnhart of TV Barn outlines why the ruckus over public broadcasting is overblown.
The Ford Foundation is spending $50 million over five years on public media grants, including $10M to PBS and $7.5M to NPR, the New York Times reported. The PBS grant will back new programming ideas and help start the PBS Foundation. It was not clear whether the $50M sum includes $2 million to ITVS for international viewpoints, $1.8M given this year to Link TV, $1M to American University's Center for Social Media, $600,000 to Consumers Union for media policy work or $300,000 to Prometheus Radio Project for work in grassroots radio. The foundation spent millions to start public TV stations and develop national programming for them in the 1950s and 1960s.

May 9, 2005

In the June edition of pubTV's In the Life, the lesbian moms who were game enough to pretend to be talking to a cartoon rabbit instead of a video camera comment on their run-in with Postcards from Buster.
We've posted the text of the resolution concerning CPB that NPR members approved in a straw poll last week at their annual membership meeting.
On the Media responds to the Wall Street Journal's critique of the show with a brief note and links to reports referenced in the op-ed.
Blogger Andy Carvin points out that Open Source, Christopher Lydon's new talk show, will incorporate the new idea of "mobcasting" into a companion website.

May 6, 2005

A large article in The Nation assesses NPR and finds it guilty of excessively safe and stodgy journalism. Garrison Keillor discusses his wide-ranging tastes in radio programs: "Once, on the Merritt Parkway heading for New York, I came upon The American Atheist Hour, the sheer tedium of which was wildly entertaining — there's nobody so humorless as a devout atheist."
In the Wall Street Journal, Jacob Laksin of the conservative Center for the Study of Popular Culture argues that NPR's On the Media is "in thrall to left-wing politics."
If Newt Gingrich had succeeded in privatizing public broadcasting, PBS wouldn't be in the situation it's in today, writes Jonathan Chait in today's Los Angeles Times. "The only reason PBS has to have GOP partisans scrubbing it of any faint signs of residual liberalism is that it has to answer to the federal government."

May 5, 2005

The New York Times editorial board weighs in on politicization of public broadcasting.
Public radio producer Benjamen Walker defends the Public Radio Exchange against a rival site: "ELITIST???? Man, I want to punch that guy in the mouth."
Showtime has greenlit a TV version of This American Life. The public radio show has already crossed over to Hollywood with a Warner Bros. deal.
A Seattle Times scribe urges the city's public schools district not to sell its noncommercial radio station, a popular dance-music outlet: "Selling irreplaceable assets to patch recurring budget deficits is a mistake. Even if you net $8 million."
Public radio's The Connection devotes an hour to CPB today, with Current Senior Editor Karen Everhart as a guest.
Readers of the New York Times weigh in on the CPB fracas: "The Republicans have been heedless to the fact of separation of church and state, and now they are trampling on one of our most cherished freedoms, freedom of the press," writes one. "Where is the outrage?" asks another.

May 4, 2005

In the Washington Post, Bob Edwards cites NPR's "pettiness" in refusing to let Scott Simon promote his new book on Edwards' XM Radio show. NPR responds that the policy applies to all "competitive" talk shows.
Media Matters for America accuses the New York Times of glossing over the political affiliations of CPB's new ombudsmen.
"The best remedy for this week's public broadcasting crisis isn't the dismantling of the 'objectivity and balance' firewall but the abolishment of the CPB itself," argues Slate's Jack Shafer, who says public broadcasters should fund their independence from goverment dollars with a massive spectrum sell-off.
Just when you thought public broadcasting was already plenty politically-charged, here comes Tom Magliozzi to add his own two cents. The Car Talk loose cannon took time out of a trip to D.C. this week to tell the Washington Post that "George Bush is a [unprintable vulgarity]."

May 3, 2005

Big score for social conservatives: Of the nearly 200,000 responses that the Department of Education received after the controversy over lesbian parents in the PBS children's show Postcards from Buster, the overwhelming majority came from supporters of the American Family Association, according to USA Today.

May 2, 2005

CPB Board President Ken Tomlinson conducted his own outside review of Now with Bill Moyers, worked to kill a legislative proposal last year that would have required more radio and TV vets on the CPB Board and has made clear that a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Asst. Secretary of State Patricia Harrison, is his preferred choice for the vacant CPB president post, the New York Times reports.