Jul 27, 2010

New home for Democracy Now!: greener than gold

Take a look at Democracy Now’s new studio/offices in lower Manhattan, the first broadcast facility to receive LEED Platinum rating for low adverse environmental impact ­– low energy and water usage, high levels of recycled materials, and the rest, says a report in the July/August architecture mag Metropolis. Extra care in design and construction, such as using sheetrock that’s not only recycled but locally made, helped the handsome, not-too-lush renovation of a former printing plant win the top rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (study up). Co-hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez guest-star in the slideshow.

Fund to back reporting collaborations for Philadelphia

An accountability journalism project announced last week by J-Lab will back in-depth reporting and collaborations among news organizations in the Philadelphia region. The Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund is seeking proposals for enterprise, investigative, explanatory or computer-assisted reporting projects that enhance public understanding of important city or regional issues, engage in developing solutions or reveal new information. Collaboration--among news creators or between journalists and programmers, for example--is a key focus of the project. “This experimental pilot is intended to demonstrate the power and potential for increased civic accountability when strong, professional public affairs news operations are given incentives and resources to work together in the public interest,” said Shawn McCaney, program officer with the William Penn Foundation, which created the Fund. The project follows up on the findings of J-Lab's recent analysis of the landscape of online news covering regional Philadelphia. The deadline for applications is Sept. 16.

Sale of licenses could help NJN become a "model" of pubmedia, prof writes

The struggling New Jersey Network should turn into a public corporation, sell off several of its licenses and use that money to become a private community nonprofit. That would "turn it from an outdated television network into a model for multiplatform public media that fits the conditions of the twenty-first century." So says Princeton Prof. Paul Starr in "A Future for Public Media in New Jersey: How to Create a New Basis for Public Radio, TV, and Online Media in One of American Journalism's Worst Covered States." The Trenton-based think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective released the paper today (July 27) as statehouse discussions over the future of NJN continue (Current, July 6, 2010). "The hour is late to save NJN," Starr warns in the report.

Nigeria meets the Muppet it named

Sesame Workshop is welcoming a new Muppet to the family at Sesame Square in Nigeria. On Monday (July 26) Zobi made his public appearance – the first Muppet to be named via a mobile phone vote, with callers from around the country. Sesame Square launches later this year in Nigeria. It will be hosted by Kami, an HIV-positive girl Muppet, and Zobi, a furry blue boy Muppet. In a statement from the Workshop, Zobi said: “I’m so excited about telling all of you all about my favorite things – and especially about my obsession with yams! Isn’t everyone obsessed with yams?” (Image: Sesame Workshop)

Unwelcome competition in Delmarva

Pubcasters on Maryland's Delmarva Peninsula are not rolling out the welcome wagon for their newest neighbor, WRAU 88.3 in Ocean City, a station simulcasting NPR News and talk programming from WAMU in Washington, D.C.

The region now has five public radio stations broadcasting NPR News shows, reports the Delmarva Daily Times, including a signal from Baltimore's WYPR broadcasting on 106.9 FM. "If WAMU were to bring a different format, we'd welcome it with open arms," says Gerry Weston, g.m. of Public Radio Delmarva. "Those stations [WRAU and Baltimore's WYPO] have resources in big cities and they are deciding to come down here."

Mark McDonald, WAMU p.d., says listeners lobbied his station to expand its signal into the Delmarva region. "There will be duplication, but our aim is to be distinctive in our local coverage," he tells the Daily Times.

Public Radio Delmarva, which is based in Salisbury, operates WSDL as an all-news station and WSCL as a news and classical music service. Further south in Princess Anne, WESM-FM splits its broadcast days between NPR News shows and jazz and blues music. "I can't say we're happy about it," said Stephen Williams, news director, of the new competition. "It's especially problematic because we want our listeners to know they are listening to WESM."

Princeton ending University Channel, 121 pubstations affected

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that on Nov. 3, Princeton University is ending its University Channel, which provides academic programming to schools and 121 pubTV stations. A statement from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs said the cancellation was due to financial reasons. The online audio and video service began in 2005 and supplies lectures by scholars on political affairs from 47 colleges both here and overseas. " ... We still believe that noncommercial, quality educational programming is an important part of the World Wide Web," Wilson spokesperson Rebecca Anderson said in a statement. "Therefore, in the coming months, we will be pursuing options to ensure that many of the Woodrow Wilson School lectures and conferences are posted on our school’s Web site, and we hope that you will do the same at your institution."

"This Old House" warns of end of civilization; that's a tough renovation

This Old House is looking for those new faces, according to the Hartford Courant. Yes, the perennial pubcasting fave is putting out a casting call for painters and electricians, particularly those in New England. Perhaps the show is bracing for the upcoming rebuilding efforts after the end of the world. Yes, tucked between stories on its home page including "How to Install a Solar Attic Fan" and "Lawn-Less Yard Solutions," is this terrifying headline: "10 U.S. Cities That Could Disappear Tomorrow." Egad. "We're not talking about a couple of feet of water in your basement or a tree down in the yard," it says. "We're talking about your home obliterated." Click the link and there's another headline: "The End of the World as We Know It." (No, we are not making this up.) Continuing into the story: "As This Old House found out, no matter where you live, you can't escape from the forces of nature. Read on to see how, in just the blink of an eye, entire American cities could be wiped off the face of the Earth." As one commenter quipped, "Get out your duct tape and caulk, people."