May 22, 2009

Senators sign letters of support for pubcasting

Nearly a third of senators have signed letters of support for fiscal 2010 funding for public broadcasting, according to APTS. Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Florida circulated the two letters, for Labor-HHS and for PTFP. "We have not had this documented show of Senate support in many years and we are thankful to all our stations that contacted their senators," APTS said in a legislative update. All signatories were Democrats, along with independents Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

Processing the outrage over NPR movie review

NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard endorses the editorial policy that prohibited the naming of closeted gay politicians in a review of the documentary Outrage, but she agrees with critics who questioned how NPR handled the piece filed by freelance film critic Nathan Lee.

The whole point of Outrage is to identify political leaders who oppose gay rights but are rumored to be secretly gay, as well as to illuminate the mainstream media's complicity in not exposing them as hypocrites. Both NPR and the Washington Post withheld the names of the politicians identified in Outrage, but other daily newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Variety published them, Shepard reports on her blog.

Shepard faults NPR editors for dancing around the issue. "As it turned out, NPR did handle its online review in the manner of a blind gossip item," she writes. "Rather than name a particular prominent politician, the edited version gave enough information for the cognoscenti to easily figure out who the review was talking about."

In addition, NPR illustrated the review with a photograph of former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested in 2007 for soliciting sex from an undercover male officer and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct while denying that he was gay. "If NPR is not going to name names, then his photo should not have accompanied the review," Shepard writes.

Both Shepard and NPR Executive Editor Dick Meyer have agreed with critics who pointed out that NPR's policy protecting the privacy of individuals hasn't been consistently applied.

Letters flow in to PBS ombudsman on "three nons"

The PBS ombudsman's mailbag is full of viewer comments on the "three nons" issue of sectarian programming. Stations are currently commenting on the proposed PBS membership requirement, which the board votes on in June.

Pubcasters locate money for Geospatial project

Penn State Public Broadcasting's Geospatial Revolution Project has received a $50,000 boost from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. The project explores location-based technologies (think GPS), "the world of digital mapping and how it is changing the way we think, behave, and interact," according to its website. It includes eight Web video episodes and a nationally released hourlong documentary.

Houston PBS still waiting for Hurricane Ike funds

University of Houston's KUHT is still recovering from Hurricane Ike, which slammed into HoustonPBS in September 2008. Insurance claims for nearly $1 million in station damages are still pending, according to spokeswoman Julie Coan. "It'll be another month before we know what will be covered," Coan said. "It's my understanding the delay is due to the fact the station's claim was included in the university's claims for Ike." The hurricane slammed into the pubTV station in the midst of a pledge drive. The fundraiser was canceled after raising $270,000, only half of its goal.

Kids can go on Sesame treasure hunts

Sesame Workshop has signed a new licensing agreement that brings personalized letters to small fans of Sesame Street, according to a statement. The "Sesame Street Giftventure" line provides poster-sized letters with a personal game or puzzle for children ages 2 to 5. Solving the puzzle provides the location of a gift the parent has hidden. Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby each appear with a unique storyline and educational games. The $19.95 Giftventures are now available at and