Nov 29, 2006

Lehrer to Colbert: "I am bias free"

"You can make fun of me all you want, but it takes courage to be boring five nights a week," the NewsHour's Jim Lehrer tells Stephen Colbert during an appearance on Comedy Central's Colbert Report. Lehrer also declared himself to be "bias free." [Scroll down to stream a two-part video clip.]

Nov 28, 2006

Gore headlines pubTV's 2007 teacher convention in NYC

Former Vice President Al Gore will headline the 2007 edition of the WNET/WLIW regional teachers’ convention. The New York pubTV stations’ second annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning, March 23-34, 2007, pins its theme to the 50th anniversary of Sputnik’s launch. Last year's celebration drew nearly 7,000 area teachers.

YouTube to show up on Verizon cell phones

A deal to be announced today by Verizon Wireless and YouTube will bring YouTube videos to cell phones, according to the New York Times. The service will offer a limited selection of YouTube fare and requires a $15 monthly subscription to Verizon's VCast service.

New York's WNET launches media blog

WNET unveiled blogthirteen, which is devoted to coverage of media. It offers a daily briefing that compiles links to news and features on a wide range of media topics and a weekly column by President Bill Baker.

Nov 22, 2006

Thanksgiving meal time-savers

Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen offers some time-saving tips for cooks who are planning Thanksgiving menus. Mashed potatoes can be prepared ahead of time and reheated tomorrow, but instant mashed potatoes are out of the question, he tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.

Nov 21, 2006

Pubcasters Focus on Tech Issues -- Radio World

CPB is disappointed that fewer public radio stations are applying for grants to support conversion to digital broadcasting, reports Radio World. CPB is surveying stations to determine why they aren't applying and is contacting them to let them know that the money is available.

CBS challenges FCC ruling on 2004 Super Bowl

In a lawsuit filed yesterday, CBS contends that Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl was an "unscripted, unauthorized and unintended long-distance shot of Ms. Jackson's breast for nine-sixteenths of one second." The Los Angeles Times reports that the network is challenging the FCC's $550,000 fine for the incident, which was broadcast to an estimated audience of 90 million and was deemed indecent by the FCC.

Nov 20, 2006

RED HERRING | Collects $10M announced last week that it raised $10 million from Hearst, McGraw-Hill and other investors, reports Red Herring. (Current article about Gather.)

What Does Someone Believe? One Man Has the Answer - New York Times

A psychology professor who has analyzed NPR's "This I Believe" essays has found "that Southerners, men and people older than 65 were the most likely to talk about religion," says a New York Times article about the series.

Blogger finds pubcasting lacking from Web 2.0 perspective

"Why is former MTV VJ Adam Curry better at building community than radio and television stations that depend on the community for their very existence?" asks a blogger at LostRemote. "Public broadcasting online should be the ultimate long tail of user-contributed content, with a natural geographical cross matrix linking the affinity groups." (Via Technology360.)

Technology360: Classical music and the cod liver oil theory of broadcasting

"[I]t's unfair and bad statistical analysis to blame news for the diminishment of classical and jazz music and, worse, for the diminishment of civic engagement in our culture," writes Dennis Haarsager in his response to the National Endowment for the Arts study of classical music on public radio.

Frontline rebuts criticism of "A Hidden Life"

Last week's Frontline documentary examining the downfall of former Spokane, Wash., Mayor Jim West prompted complaints of factual errors by the editor of Spokesman-Review, whose own journalistic ethics and investigative tactics came under scrutiny in the program. Frontline rebutted the newspaper's criticism on its own discussion page. Producer Rachel Dretzin fielded questions about the documentary in an online chat.

Nov 16, 2006

Nielsen to debut VOD ratings next month

Nielsen Media Research will begin offering video-on-demand ratings in December, the New York Times reports (via mediabistro). Rentrak, a company based in Portland, Ore., already tracks VOD viewing but it only releases data that cable companies approve. If VOD viewing habits hold steady through December, more than two billion on-demand programs will be watched this year, based on Rentrak data.

Downtown home for Phoenix station

The Phoenix City Council yesterday okayed planning for a building on Arizona State University’s downtown campus that will house pubTV station KAET and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, the Arizona Republic reported yesterday. Construction would begin next spring and the building would be occupied by fall 2008.

Nov 15, 2006

Past role of new Sprout host raises eyebrows

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler revisits the firing of PBS Kids Sprout host Melanie Martinez last summer and finds a story rich with "irony and hypocrisy" on the actress recently selected to replace her.

White House reappoints Tomlinson to overseas broadcast post

President Bush yesterday reappointed former CPB Chair Kenneth Tomlinson to his other federal post, chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseer of Voice of America and other overseas radio and TV services, the AP reported. The State Department's inspector general criticized Tomlinson on several matters in August but did not seek a criminal investigation; Tomlinson's defenders downplayed the accusations. He quit the CPB job after a report by CPB's inspector general. Just last month the BBG named a new VOA director, Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal veteran Danforth Austin, and a new director of VOA-TV, Russell Hodge, head of the Maryland production company 3 Roads Communications. Austin replaces Wayne Jackson, who was roundly criticized by VOA's employee union.

Nov 14, 2006

WAMU and WTMD collaborate to bring AAA music format to Washington on HD Radio channel

WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C., launches a digital channel today that carries programming from WTMD-FM, an noncommercial Adult Album Alternative station in Towson, Md. The channel can be picked up only by listeners with digital radios.

Nov 13, 2006

Workers at public station KQED authorize strike

Unionized technicians at Northern California Public Radio (formerly KQED) in San Francisco have voted to authorize a strike, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The 130 employees are frustrated with the slow pace of contract negotiations, says a spokesman with the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.

To the NEA, News-Laden NPR is Making a Classical Mistake -

A study by the National Endowment for the Arts criticizes public radio for favoring news programming over classical music in recent years, writes Marc Fisher of the Washington Post. "We work in a complicated media environment," says Ken Stern, c.e.o. of NPR, in response to the report. "We have to fish where the fish are." UPDATE: Here's a link to the study (PDF).

Nov 9, 2006

Fair Game in Dallas

The Dallas Morning News profiles Fair Game, the new weeknight show of news and humor from Public Radio International. "This show is proof that public radio is not humor-impaired," says Jeff Ramirez, radio p.d. for KERA-FM in Dallas.

Marimow inquired about Inquirer job months ago

According to the New York Times, former NPR v.p. for news and (briefly) ombudsman Bill Marimow, hired yesterday as editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, expressed interest in the job as far back as August. Marimow officially takes the reins in Philly Nov. 27.

Nov 8, 2006

Marimow to leave NPR for Inquirer

Bill Marimow, NPR's former v.p. for news who stepped down last month to become the network's ombudsman, today was named editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper reports (press release here). Marimow previously worked at the Inquirer for 21 years, helping the paper win two Pulitzer Prizes. Marimow wrote a total of two columns as NPR ombudsman. There is no word on his replacement.

Nov 7, 2006

The War to air at 8 p.m., despite minor profanity

PBS announced this week that Ken Burns' seven-part World War II doc, The War, will air over two weeks (four nights the first week, three the second) beginning Sept. 16, 2007. The episodes will air at 8 p.m. even though the doc includes some profanity. (Burns, in an interview with the New York Times, described the salty language as "so minor and so appropriate to the story.") Stations can opt to delay broadcast until 10 p.m., or the beginning of the FCC-observed "safe harbor" for edgy content, as numerous pubcasters did with David Grubin's Marie Antoinette in September.

Nov 6, 2006

Was Inskeep betraying bias?

Listener complaints prompted Bill Marimow, NPR's ombudsman, to review an interview of Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) that aired on Morning Edition, and the ombud concludes that host Steve Inskeep was tough but fair on his subject. "What some listeners may hear as incivility or rudeness may simply be the product of a broadcast journalist making a tenacious effort to steer an experienced politician toward providing responsive answers instead of reading from a scripted playbook of party messages," Marimow writes.

KNCT takes heat for cancelling "Now"

Mary Beth Harrell, the Democratic challenger in Texas's 31st congressional district, accused local PBS station KNCT in Killeen of trying to hurt her campaign by "blacking out" the Nov. 3 edition of Now. The program, which examined how the war in Iraq has affected voters' attitudes in the community, will air tonight, according to KWTX, the local CBS affiliate.

Nov 2, 2006

Pubradio's entree into "the book" delayed

Arbitron announced Thursday that it will postpone reporting ratings for public radio stations alongside those of commercial stations, according to Mediaweek. Broadcasters had asked the ratings company to wait until it could report satellite and Internet radio listening as well.

Public Radio Partnership dismisses four in shakeup

The new president of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., dismissed four employees yesterday, including a v.p. of programming and marketing, reports the Courier-Journal. "Though difficult, I'm pretty confident these changes were the right ones to make," says Donovan Reynolds, who took charge at the station in September after leaving Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor.

Nov 1, 2006

CPB's Bode not sure the NewsHour is as balanced as he thought

In his most recent report, CPB ombudsman Ken Bode looks at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting's study of NewsHour guests, released Oct. 4, and sees merit in its criticisms. Noting a statement released by NewsHour e.p. Linda Winslow in response to the study (included in this Current article), Bode says, "I come away with the feeling that the folks at the NewsHour shouldn't seem so reflexively dismissive of the criticism this time." PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler's earlier take here.

NPR : A Daunting Challenge Awaits NPR Ombudsman

In his debut column as NPR's ombudsman, Bill Marimow surveys the work ahead of him. "Based on my conversations with Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR's first ombudsman, who held the job for more than six years, I'll be doing a lot of listening," he writes.

MacNeil to host Crossroads project

Robert MacNeil, former co-anchor, with Jim Lehrer, of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, will host next spring's America at a Crossroads series, the project's producing station, WETA in Arlington, Va., officially announced today. (See also the New York Times.) MacNeil, whose role with the series was also mentioned at last month's PBS Development Conference, will anchor the CPB-launched series and provide spot reporting as necessary. The 11 initial Crossroads docs, funded largely by $20 million in CPB grants, will air 9-11 p.m. (EST) nightly, April 15-20, and will explore the "challenges confronting the world post 9/11," according to WETA. First announced in 2004, the project was criticized last year by some system programmers and received press scrutiny during last year's CPB controversy for including ideologically skewed programs in its lineup. Project producers say all programs will be rigorously vetted and that the series will be balanced overall.