Sep 16, 2010

PBS needs to run American-made fiction programming, writer says

Where's the quality American dramas and comedies on PBS? That's what writer David Pierotti is wondering in the latest Independent online mag of indie production. He admits there is indeed fiction on PBS, but "it all comes with an accent. Every show references 'queues,' 'lorries,' 'bobbies,' 'bangers,' 'blokes" and 'bollocks.'" Why, he asks, "must the public station of the United States of America rely upon Britain’s hand-me-downs like some destitute street urchin?"

He also has a few suggestions, including PBS creating, say, a Law & Order: Pittsburgh. "Why can’t a community entertain its audience while supporting, encouraging and facilitating the development of local talent?"

Pierotti said he's not asking for a "dumbing down" or "injection of crassness" into PBS, "but rather an expansion of its identity. Because let's face it, the current programming lacks daring or originality."

President announces STEM Video Game Challenge, co-sponsored by Cooney Center

A competition co-sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop was announced by President Obama today (Sept. 16) at the White House, according to a press release from the center. The National STEM Video Game Challenge is part of the administration's “Educate to Innovate” campaign. The contest aims to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) via students’ passion for playing and making video games. "I applaud partners in the National STEM Video Game Challenge for lending their resources, expertise, and their enthusiasm to the task of strengthening America’s leadership in the 21st century by improving education in science, technology, engineering and math," the president said. Other competition sponsors include Microsoft, the American Library Association and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Lost in space? Check out pubcasting network's online geospatial project

Penn State Public Broadcasting’s interesting online series, “The Geospatial Revolution Project,” went online Wednesday (Sept. 15) to explore how geospatial information transforms lives. As the site says: "Geospatial information influences nearly everything. Seamless layers of satellites, surveillance, and location-based technologies create a worldwide geographic knowledge base vital to solving myriad social and environmental problems in the interconnected global community." The first of the four episodes focuses on how the technology aided first responders during the Haitian earthquake relief efforts. The 13-minute video explains how it all works, gives a brief history of the evolution of mapping, and ends with the practical application of crisis mapping and crowdsourcing used after the earthquake. Future episodes arrive Nov. 2; Feb. 1, 2011; and March 15, 2011.

Public Media Corps uses Cool Spots as hot spots for Wi-Fi and data

Public Media Corps (PMC), the New Media Institute's initiative to extend broadband adoption into underserved communities, has been plugging along since its launch in June in Washington, D.C., reports the MediaShift blog. The 15 fellows and their institutional partners are working in four neighborhoods of predominantly African American, Latino and immigrant communities. Part of the effort focuses on "Cool Spots," or mobile Internet access hubs, said Jacquie Jones, executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium, which is overseeing the work. "The fellows set up [Cool Spots] at block parties, festivals and outdoor markets and events where the public uses netbooks onsite to complete online surveys and learn more about the PMC," she said. "The Cool Spots are also 'hot spots' with free Wi-Fi to promote broadband use." Later this month (September) the PMC will use the data collected at Cool Spots to select three to four projects for the fellows and community partners to collaborate on.

HistoryMakers heading back to school for its 10th anniversary

The HistoryMakers, the largest archive of African-American recorded interviews in the world -- many airing as PBS specials -- is celebrating its 10th anniversary by partnering with schools nationwide. Starting Friday (Sept. 17) dozens of personalities included in the interview archives will be visiting their former classrooms to discuss their lives and stress the importance of education. Participants include former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, returning to her Paul Robeson High School; former Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes, speaking at the former school that was renamed for him and his brother, Carl and Louis Stokes High School; and actress Marla Gibbs ("The Jeffersons") going to Angela Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles. In all, HistoryMakers will be speaking in 25 states and 50 cities.

Brand's new show from L.A. bows on Monday

A new morning newsmagazine will debut on Pasadena's KPCC on Monday (Sept. 20) --The Madeleine Brand Show, airing weekdays at 9 a.m. Brand, a former NPR correspondent and Day to Day co-host, will helm a one-hour program that covers news "using story-telling techniques familiar to radio listeners, but mixed together in a new way," according to a news release. The show team includes Kristen Muller, who joined KPCC from CBS; Sanden Totten, previously a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio's In the Loop; and, Steve Proffitt, who was senior producer on Day to Day, one of two Los Angeles-based programs that NPR canceled last year. Producers plan to cover a mix of hard news and lifestyle topics: politics, business, food, art & culture, entertainment, popular culture and parenting.