May 16, 2008

NPR's Raz picked as Nieman Fellow

NPR defense reporter Guy Raz was chosen to join Harvard University as a 2008-09 Nieman Fellow. Raz will use his fellowship to study "the collapse of ancient and modern empires and the effect of such collapses on global order," according to a press release. (Via Romenesko.)

Dear rural America: When you shop for that DTV box...

Oregon Public Broadcasting is alerting viewers of the state's 400 rural translator stations that they should make sure the DTV converter boxes that they buy have the "analog pass-through" feature that feeds both analog NTSC and digital ATSC signals to their TV sets. That's because the FCC is allowing translators to continue analog broadcasting after DTV Day next Feb. 17, and some broadcasters are likely to switch at different times, requiring receivers to be ... open-minded. More on OPB's rural DTV page. The bad news: Boxes with analog pass-through "are not yet widely available in stores" and many salespeople won't know about this feature. OPB said it has received more than 10,000 calls and e-mails about the DTV switchover since opening its help line in January. OPB's Becky Chinn says the state network vowed to help viewers with the transition. They'll love OPB if it helps them, she wrote, and hold it responsible for DTV problems it if doesn't.

"Sid" drops in at PBS Showcase

PBS Showcase attendees got a preview this week of Sid the Science Kid, the new series from the Jim Henson Co. Sid combines several production techniques “to create lifelike animated characters that are more ‘everyday’ than ever before,” reported the (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun. “It’s not escapist entertainment,” said Lisa Henson, co-c.e.o. of the Henson Co. “This is a more authentic representation of what happens in a child’s life. We wanted to expand those experiences and to model positive situations for them to learn from.”

Philly station aims to make viewers into producers

“In my 20 years in the business, I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” says a Pennsylvania pubTV leader of Philadelphia’s WYBE, which has reinvented itself to air short videos made by community members. An Associated Press article describes the channel’s offerings as “a grab-bag of museum-exhibit tours and Christian rappers, tattooed performance artists and a green-building primer by local corporate landlord Liberty Property Trust.”

"Electric Company" to return to PBS

Production has begun on a revival of The Electric Company, the classic kidvid show from the ’70s. Media Life reports that the new Company will air on PBS Kids starting in January, with a writing team that includes veterans of Law & Order and the Will Ferrell film Blades of Glory. “The biggest advantage for ‘TEC,’ which enters a much more sophisticated kids’ TV environment than when it debuted 37 years ago, may be its devoted following among nostalgic adults, who will ensure that their children watch the show,” says the magazine. A New York Times article calls the new version "a weekly, more danceable version of its former daily self."

V-me offers preview of programming

V-me, the Spanish-language multicast channel, is set to introduce an original show aimed at preschoolers and, for adults, a reality series about new parents, reports MediaDailyNews. Two additional reality series are also in the works.