Aug 13, 2010

East Tennessee viewers get new name for their pubcasting station

East Tennessee Public TV, or ETPtv, has changed its name to East Tennessee PBS and has a spiffy new website to prove it. Teresa James, general manager, said viewers previously referred to the station in any number of ways: ETPtv, Channel 2, Channel 15, WKOP or WETP. The station conducted focus groups, interviews and online polls and collaborated with PBS's branding team to make the change.

Knight News Challenge Grant winner discusses court project

Here are further details on Order in the Court 2.0, the interesting Knight News Challenge Grant winner that seeks to establish best practices for reporting on courts via digital technology. John Davidow, executive editor of new media at Boston's WBUR, is heading up the project. He writes on the Idea Lab blog that it is the first nationally funded initiative to change how courts deal with electronic journalism since video and audio recording standards were established in the 1970s.

Frustrated? The PBS ombudsman is

Hearing about the McLaughlin Group makes PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler feel like "that airline cabin attendant who grabbed a beer and hit the escape chute," he writes in this week's Mailbag. He's written about the show in many previous columns and has received "literally thousands" of emails, mostly complaints, about the program. In this recent batch, one viewer writes about giving up and turning the show off after two panelists on a recent segment "spouted spiels of foundationless propaganda like they had suddenly become right wing nut jobs." Another called panelists "racists." Compounding the problem is that some viewers consider it a PBS show, although it is not branded as such on the screen. It's produced by McLaughlin's production company, Oliver Productions, at WUSA-TV, a Gannett/CBS-affiliate in Washington, D.C.

Vermont listener questions Schiller on NPR's online expansion

When listeners can find NPR programming on the Internet and via so many different mobile devices, what does the future portend for NPR member stations? The question has been increasingly on the minds of station execs this year as NPR rolled out its new iPad and iPhone apps; yesterday Vermont Public Radio's Jane Lindholm put the question, which came from a listener, to NPR President Vivian Schiller. "No matter what we do, the audience is going to find media in the way that best suits their needs," Schiller said during an Aug. 12 appearance on Vermont Edition. To provide NPR content exclusively for radio broadcast would be a mistake, the NPR chief added. "Others would step in and provide what I would like to think is inferior coverage" on digital platforms. "It's really our responsibility to serve the audience however they want."

Schiller remains "wildly optimistic" about the viability of public radio stations, she said. As local newspapers and TV stations cut their reporting staffs and provide less original news reporting "local public radio stations like VPR are really the only place people can turn to get full spectrum of national and international news, and--more importantly-- a local connection to the community, local news, local information."

Later in the interview, Schiller revealed that one of NPR's highest newsroom priorities is beefing up foreign coverage by assigning a full-time reporter to South America. And, in all the kerfuffle over Helen Thomas's seat in the White House pressroom, Schiller said NPR is quite happy that its correspondents are moving into a second-row seat. "Never has there been so much written about a chair!" she said.

Nightly Business Report co-host not so social on social media

Susie Gharib, co-anchor of Nightly Business Report on PBS, reveals in an interview that "I don't have Facebook, and I don't tweet." This comes two days after PBS talker Tavis Smiley said he doesn't use a mobile phone. Discuss.

Community broadcasters support net neutrality in letter to FCC

Several community broadcasting leaders are signatories to a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski protesting the recent Google-Verizon policy proposal that they say undermines the open nature of the Internet, a concept known as net neutrality. The signers include Maxie Jackson, president, National Federation of Community Broadcasters; Alex Nogales, president, National Hispanic Media Coalition; Loris Taylor, Executive Director, Native Public Media; and Pete Tridish of the low-power advocacy group the Prometheus Radio Project. The letter urges the chairman to reclassify Internet communications as a Title II Telecommunications Service, putting the FCC directly over broadband communications networks. Genachowski has said in the past that approach has "serious drawbacks," such as extensive regulations for service providers.

Family sues Frontline over funeral film

PBS and WGBH's Frontline are among defendants in a lawsuit filed this week (Aug. 10) in Cook County (Chicago) Court that contends a film crew "barged into a private funeral ceremony" on March 13, according to Courthouse News Service. The daughter and grandson of of the late Annie Gibson Bacon say a crew accompanied by the anti-violence group CeaseFire, another defendant in the suit, showed up at Bacon's funeral because her son, Jeff Fort, was alleged to be the leader of a street gang. In its coverage of the suit, the Chicago Tribune refers to Fort as a "notorious Chicago gang leader." Read the 20-page lawsuit here. Diane Buxton, spokesperson for Frontline, declined comment as attorneys for the program have not yet seen the lawsuit.