Oct 2, 2009

Yom Kippur air date for "National Parks" prompts letters to PBS ombudsman

The premiere of National Parks: America's Best Idea on Yom Kippur Sept. 27 disturbed some Jewish viewers, reports PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler. Other complaints generated by the series focused on the use of a PBS bug along with the line "Presents a Film by Ken Burns" on the lower screen. Then the title, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Then another PBS logo. Every 15 minutes.

ACL comes to PBS Video portal

For the first time, 35 Austin City Limits episodes will be available on the PBS Video portal starting the day after broadcast. A selected number of older shows may be accessible later. The show's new season kicks off Saturday with Dave Matthews Band. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is also under way and runs through the weekend, check the website for live coverage.

Knight Commission report says pubcasting needs "a broader vision"

A blue-ribbon panel, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, today issued its final report. In it, the 17-member group contends that "public broadcasting needs to move quickly toward a broader vision of public service media, one that is more local, more inclusive, and more interactive" (note item below). Among its specific recommendations: Increase support for public service media aimed at meeting community information needs; set ambitious standards for nationwide broadband availability and adopt public policies encouraging consumer demand for broadband service; and support the activities of information providers to reach local audiences with quality content through all appropriate media, such as mobile phones, radio, public access cable and new platforms. The commission grew out of an Aspen Institute forum in summer 2007. In April and May of this year, PBS Engage helped gather some 1,000 responses to a series of online questions, plus reactions to a draft introduction to the report. the commission included former PBS Board Chairman Alberto Ibarg├╝en, now c.e.o. of the Knight Foundation.

Multi-million project strives to bolster local news coverage

CPB and the Knight Foundation are funding a multi-million dollar, two-year pilot in-depth journalism project with NPR. With $2 million from CPB and $1 million from Knight, a group of stations will expand original reporting as well as curate, distribute and share "online content about high-interest, specialized subjects," according to a joint statement. NPR President Vivian Schiller has long backed the idea (Current, Feb. 2, 2009 and March 2, 2009). "The opportunity here is two-fold," she said in the statement today. "First, to beef up coverage of critical issues at the local level, and, second, to begin to establish an online network that can transform itself into a news powerhouse of unparalleled depth and quality.” Stations will feed local work to NPR’s content management system (Current, Sept. 2, 2008) for participants. NewsHour will also share its embeddable video player (Current, May 12, 2008) to give participants access to several news shows. Stations have not yet been selected but will include a mix of dual licensees as well as NPR affiliates. Participants will cover part of the pilot cost and must sustain new staff after the grants have ended. Journalism bloggers will also be included. This is the first project of this type that CPB and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have jointly funded.