Dec 11, 2008

StoryCorps to open permanent oral history booth in Atlanta

The first permanent StoryCorps booth outside of New York City will be installed in Atlanta next year -- located temporarily in a studio at Public Broadcasting Atlanta's WABE-FM until 2011, when it moves in the city's new civil rights museum, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the station announced today. "WABE is family to us," said project founder Dave Isay in the release. "There is no other station in the country that’s dearer to our hearts that cares more about StoryCorps and public broadcasting." While New York now has the only permanent StoryBooth, San Francisco is hosting one through next October, and a mobile booth is patrolling Alaska through April.

NewsHour to report on NPR downsizing

Tonight's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer includes a segment on the NPR job cuts. The Washington Post's Marc Fisher is a confirmed guest. NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard may also participate.

Correction: The NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown will interview Ellen Weiss, NPR senior v.p. of news. Fisher and Shepard will not participate, according to a producer.

Commentator petitions to save 'News & Notes'

An online petition to save News & Notes challenges NPR's official explanation for the show's cancellation: "several staff members report a different reason given to them . . . which had nothing to do with audience levels or funding," writes journalist/blogger Jasmyne Cannick, a News & Notes commentator and L.A.-based political consultant. She asks News & Notes fans to write NPR execs to express support for "one of the best national radio newscasts dedicated to African-American news and views." Baratunde Thurston, a blogger and News & Notes commentator, also questions NPR's decision to cancel the show: "In the grand, new age of Obama, this is happening? This past year, we at Jack and Jill Politics and the broader Afrosphere had to work triple time to try to inject some sanity into the media conversation about race . . . . With Obama headed for the White House, the supply of ignorant racial media discourse will only grow." Because Michel Martin's Tell Me More has a broader, multicultural focus, it "can't be accurately called a black program," he writes.

ITVS a "difficult partner" for filmmakers?

The Independent, an online (previously print) publication about independent film, reports that some filmmakers are unhappy with how the Independent Television Service (ITVS), a CPB-backed organization that funds independent productions, control films' content and "plays hardball" during contract negotiations. In more than a dozen interviews with sources who remain mostly anonymous, the publication found that "the organization can at times be a difficult partner, placing unnecessary demands on filmmakers ... shrouding the collaborative process in secrecy, and at times stifling the independent, creative spirit of the very filmmakers it is designed to support." Many producers came to ITVS's defense, but apparently, some felt pushed to make their films more journalistic and "balanced" even though they didn't regard their film as journalism. Others said films had been intentionally "buried" and were never broadcast. Sources were particularly critical of contract negotiations, which they say "[push] inexperienced filmmakers to sign a lengthy and complex contract without the benefit of time to review it or to run it by a lawyer." According to the article, ITVS agreed to publish its standard contract details for the first time at The Independent's request. The founder of the publication, the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, helped lobby for the establishment of ITVS in 1991. RELATED: On Dec. 1, the ITVS Board of Directors voted to make the board a self-nominating entity. Previously, the National Coalition of Independent Public Broadcasting Producers (NCIPBP) nominated board members, who were then approved by CPB. The ITVS Board will now seek out and approve members independently.

DTV adds more PBS markets

DTV, the only satellite provider offering PBS in high definition, has added 14 more markets for local pubTV, reports Multichannel News. More are planned for 2009. The new markets include Burlington-Vt.-Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Toledo, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich.; Indianapolis; Knoxville, Tenn.; San Diego; San Francisco; Springfield-Holyoke, Mass.; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

Show cancellations allow NPR to avoid making "a thousand cuts in everything"

A roundup of reports on the downsizing at NPR: The decision to cancel Day to Day and News & Notes, two mid-day shows that originate from studios in Culver City, Calif., "seemed to have the least impact on our audience" and allowed NPR to avoid making "a thousand cuts in everything," Interim President Dennis Haarsager says in the New York Times. The LA Times describes the role of Day to Day in covering stories from the West coast and quotes Haarsager describing "a la carte ways" that the network can distribute its stories. "Not everything has to have a brand, a title. It wouldn’t have to be a branded show with a cute title and music," he says. The Washington Post and LA Observed, a blog that first published rumors of imminent cuts at NPR, list the NPR talents being let go. So does NPR's own media reporter David Folkenflik, who captures some of the anger expressed yesterday during a staff meeting at NPR HQ in D.C.

UPDATE: No original reporting but extended comment threads on Gawker and HuffPo.