Jul 15, 2010

PBS once again tops News and Documentary Emmy nominations

The Los Angeles Times said that PBS "flexed its usual strength" when the News and Documentary Emmy nods were announced today (July 15) and the network received 37. Frontline scored four and Frontline/World, three; Nova and P.O.V. each had four; and Bill Moyers Journal, which ended this year, received three. "Mosque at Morgantown," one of the "America at a Crossroads" series funded by CPB, also is in the running. The 2010 lifetime achievement award goes to noted documentarian Frederick Wiseman, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking 1967 cinema verite "Titicut Follies." Several of his 30 films ran on PBS, including "Domestic Violence" and "High School." For a full list of Emmy nominations, visit the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences website (PDF).

UPDATE: Here's an interesting Emmy factoid. The two nominations for the Frontline/World doc, "Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground" (at top, image: PBS) are a first for any Canadian university. Ten students from the University of British Columbia's international reporting class worked on the film, reports the Vancouver Sun. Former 60 Minutes producer and UBC associate professor Peter Klein supervised the students as they traced the path of electronic waste -- such as old computers and cellphones -- around the globe. "There, buried among smoldering heaps of burning plastics and metals, they discovered health, human rights and national security concerns," the paper said. The two nods are in the outstanding investigative journalism and outstanding research categories.

Online nonprofit donations are up

Online donations to nonprofs are up 23 percent this March, April and May over the same time last year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. The Blackbaud Index of Online Giving keeps tabs on nearly 1,800 nonprofit organizations with combined donations of $400 million annually. It found that groups with annual budgets of more than $10 million saw Internet donations grow 28 percent during that period compared to last year; those with budgets of $1 million to $10 million rose 21.3 percent; and those with budgets of less than $1 million grew 13.1 percent.

National Press Club Awards for pubcasters

NPR's David Folkenflik, State of the Re:Union creator Al Letson, and PBS's Frontline are public broadcasting's winners in this year's National Press Club Awards. The Press Club honored Folkenflik for press criticism in "Why GQ Doesn't Want Russians to Read its Story"; Letson for "Brooklyn: Change Happens," an episode of the series spawned by via CPB's Public Radio Talent Quest initiative; and Frontline for consumer journalism in The Card Game, a documentary reported by Lowell Bergman and coproduced with the New York Times.

"Prison Valley" documentary starts on innovative website

A unique nonfiction film that its producers call "a road movie on the web" is getting attention within the indie production world, according to the Independent, a news site for media makers. Viewers interested in "Prison Valley" sign into Twitter, Facebook, or create an account on the film’s site. Then the movie, from French producers David Dufresne and Philippe Brault, begins in a car driving along Skyline Drive in CaƱon City, Colo., heading toward an area that's home to 13 prisons. There are opportunities to take detours into additional interactive content, and visitors see the names of others who are watching. Some 1,000 people tuned in its first day online. A funding grant came from the committee of the New Media, Film and Television Project Development Fund awards, which filmmakers used for the website. Arte TV, one of the film’s producers, then offered a distribution deal. "In the end, `Prison Valley' was able to secure a mainstream form of distribution not in spite of but because of its pioneering usage of the web as an arena for marketing and community-building," the Independent's Courtney Sheehan writes. "Combine that with impeccable journalism and a beautifully-shot film, and you’ve got a multimedia model that offers filmmakers new insights into telling a story in many different mediums at once."

FCC spectrum inventory now under way

An inventory of "existing spectrum allocation, assignment and utilization" is already under way, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). Broadcasting & Cable reports that a bill mandating the inventory by the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. The FCC soon will vote on a proposal to free spectrum in the mobile satellite services band for terrestrial broadband. Then, probably sometime during the next few months, will begin reclaiming 120 MHz of broadcast spectrum for that broadband.

BBC ramps up online news service for American audiences

BBC Worldwide is about to launch a news website for American audiences,, according to Advertising Age. The site, produced by a staff of ten journalists based in Washington, D.C., will cover politics and general news, and is expected to go live today. "[T]his latest effort is part of the company's ambitions to nab more U.S. online media dollars, and the inception of underscores the importance of original content to that strategy," Ad Age reports.

Noncom and com media should join for international service, author says

America needs one news service to broadcast internationally, drawing on the strengths of both public and commercial media, writes Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, in today's (July 14) Wall Street Journal. America's broadcast news industry was designed to have private owners operating within public regulations. Currently, "American journalism is not just the product of the free market, but of a hybrid system of private enterprise and public support," he writes. In today's globalized world, other countries have strong national media: The BBC in Britain, China's CCTV and Xinhua news, and Qatar's Al Jazeera. But news broadcast internationally from the United States originates from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty -- developed during war "as tools of our anticommunist foreign policy," Bollinger said. So American news "needs to be revised and its resources consolidated and augmented with those of NPR and PBS to create an American World Service that can compete with the BBC and other global broadcasters. The goal would be an American broadcasting system with full journalistic independence that can provide the news we need." Bollinger's new book is Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press for a New Century (Oxford University Press).