Apr 16, 2009

CPB hires digital v.p. (batteries included)

CPB added new-media and public-interest experience yesterday, announcing the hiring of Robert Bole, v.p. of digital media strategy and investments, formerly v.p. of media for One Economy Corp., a D.C.-based nonprofit that developed the Beehive, a national website with localization that provides practical living advice and information services to millions of low-income families, as well as an online video platform Public Internet Channel; a community forum device, 24/7 TownHall; and an education site for families, ZipRoad.

The Wisconsin network and Now on PBS won Cronkite Awards

Wisconsin Public Television and the national series Now on PBS received two of this year’s 10 Walter Cronkite Awards for political reporting on TV. The awards were announced yesterday by the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Wisconsin Public Television won its fourth Cronkite for real-people stories that “went above and beyond what many come to expect from public television,” the judges said. They cited the Now on PBS program “New Voters in the New West” for showing the party’s rush to capture first-time voters.

More on Al Jazeera, Worldfocus and Fox

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler's new column tackles the recent Fox News report on the use of Al Jazeera English television reporting on Worldfocus. Fox quoted a member of Congress that pubcaster PBS should not be airing the Middle East-based network reports. One point Getler makes: "Al Jazeera does view things through an Arab world prism because that is its main audience. And it also focuses heavily on the civilian costs of war — whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Gaza. So its filming and reporting became valuable from these regions, even if, at times, they are hard to look at. Yet it is better to know this as part of the mix of reporting, in my view, and to absorb it in context with all the ways we get information, than to have only the often sanitized version of warfare that one gets on American network television."

Jesse Thorn on the future of pubradio, and his place in it

"My situation is that if I had to choose between losing my stations and losing my direct podcast fundraising, I’d pick the one that would allow me to continue to pay my rent and . . . lose the stations," says Jesse Thorn, host of the The Sound of Young America, a comedy podcast and weekly public radio show from PRI, in a two-part interview with the Neiman Journalism Lab. Thorn describes how efforts to attract younger and more diverse audiences with shows such as Day to Day, News and Notes, Bryant Park Project and Fair Game failed because they were expensive to produce and didn't gain the station carriage needed to cover their costs. TSOYA, by contrast, operates on a gross budget of $85,000 a year, with roughly $10,000 coming from the dozen or so pubradio stations that broadcast it. "You know, I don’t even have a studio--I do my show in my apartment. And like that is so much more sustainable." In part one of the interview, Thorn says he's "almost checked out of trying to get radio stations to pick up my show. . . . Maybe my time is better spent making my show better than it is convincing a 58-year-old guy in triple-pleated khakis that my show about interviewing comedians and what not is worth their airtime." Thorn has lots of more provocative things to say about problems with public radio's funding model and its struggle to reach beyond its core audience of "everyone who is old, white, and highly educated." You can listen or read the transcripts of part one, in which Thorn describes the philosophy behind TSOYA, and part two, which gets into the politics and problems of pubradio.