Oct 13, 2010

Vegas PBS inundated with media credential requests for debate

Vegas PBS is Ground Zero for one of the most anticipated debates in the nation this election season: Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vs. GOP candidate Sharron Angle. It's their only face-off during the campaign. The station is approaching 85 requests for media credentials from the major networks (CNN, FOX News and MSNBC) as well as reporters from as far away as Japan, Germany, Netherlands,  England and France. The Thursday (Oct. 14) debate is being produced with the Nevada Broadcasters Association. Watch online here from 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern.

WFCR secures AM outlet for its news expansion

Massachusetts station WFCR is buying WNNZ, a 50,000-watt outlet on 640 AM, and converting it into noncommercial operation, the WFCR Foundation announced today. WFCR began programming NPR news and talk on WNNZ in 2007 under contract with Clear Channel Communications. The $600,000 purchase, to be initially financed through a four-year loan from Public Radio Capital, secures the AM outlet for WFCR's expanding news and information service. In August, the Amherst-based pubcaster acquired another channel for news -- WNNZ-FM, a 100-watt station on 91.7 MHz that was previously operated by prep-school students of the Deerfield Academy.

"Think twice" before attending Oct. 30 rallies, Schiller tells NPR staffers

In a memo to NPR employees today (Oct. 13) posted on the Poynter Online Romenesko journalism blog, President Vivian Schiller cautioned staffers against participation in the dueling rallies on the National Mall planned for Oct. 30 by Comedy Central's faux-news pundits, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. " ... [N]o matter where you work at NPR you should be very mindful that you represent the organization and its news coverage in the eyes of your friends, neighbors and others," she said in the memo, which was attached to a copy of NPR's News Ethics guidelines. "So please think twice about the message you may be sending about our objectivity before you attend a rally or post a bumper sticker or yard sign."

UPDATE: The memo has generated several hundred comments on HuffPost.

CPB's Harrison expects pubmedia news coverage to "gore people's oxen"

In an interview with the St. Louis Beacon, the nonprof news site partnering with St. Louis's KETC, CPB President Pat Harrison makes a strongly worded case for the corporation's involvement in funding news coverage. "My job is to invest in high quality journalism and let the chips fall where they may," Harrison said. "I don't even have to like it; I just have to make sure it gets funded. And I am dedicated to that. We are going to gore people's oxen. On any given day, I may have somebody from one side of the aisle complaining that we are very, very left, and another call that says we are too right. As long as those calls keep coming, that means we're doing a deep dive on all these issues and putting all that information out there, and people can bring their brains to the table and figure it all out."

LA Times TV critic ponders KCET's fundraising future without PBS shows

"KCET is dead; long live KCET," writes Los Angeles Times TV Critic Robert Lloyd in today's (Oct. 13) column. He's adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward the station's departure from PBS as of Jan. 1, 2011. "If, as the station has claimed, the economic downturn had made it difficult for KCET to raise the money PBS demanded from it, will it be any easier, without the lure of an Antiques Roadshow or American Masters, to raise the money to realize this unrevealed new vision?" Lloyd writes. "One can easily imagine, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, a vicious circle of diminishing returns, in which cheaper programming leads to fewer pledges, which in turn leads to even cheaper programming, which leads to fewer pledges."

Meanwhile, viewers continue to comment on KCET President Al Jerome's Ask Al blog on the station website. One: "What a sad day. My four year old daughter is in tears because her beloved PBS shows will no longer be aired on KCET. I think this is a big mistake."

President appoints "Takeaway," Sesame Workshop contributor to financial board

President Barack Obama today (Oct. 13) announced his choice for appointments to several administration posts. Included is Beth Kobliner, to serve as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. The financial expert has a regular segment on public radio’s The Takeaway and is a content adviser to Sesame Workshop’s upcoming Financial Education Initiative, a bilingual outreach program to promote financial literacy in very young children. Here's a video interview of Kobliner at last year's TV Critics Press Tour, discussing her participation in the doc "Your Life, Your Money," which ran on PBS in April 2009.

Is an independent KCET an innovative concept, or doomed to failure?

Here's an interesting exchange on the future of soon-indie KCET between Doc Searls, head of Project VRM at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and John Proffitt, longtime public broadcaster and pubmedia analyst. "KCET has some faith — or at least a good idea — that Whatever Comes Next will be good enough for lots of people to watch," Searls writes on his blog. " ... Dumping PBS was a brave move by KCET. They deserve congratulations for it." But Proffitt predicts that the station will slowly become "a video production house for grant-funded film and commercial work where possible," and be gone in five years. Furthermore, Proffitt adds, "PBS simply needs to be replaced with a central corporation that doesn’t answer to the local stations."

Kling reveals his plan for regional news expansion

Just what does Minnesota Public Radio's Bill Kling have in mind for the regional news initiative announced last month as his next act? A $100 million expansion of newsgathering capacity at public radio stations in four to six major markets, reports Newsonomics blogger Ken Doctor. Minnesota Public Radio and KPCC in Los Angeles, sister stations in Kling's American Public Media family, are planning an alliance with New York's WNYC and Chicago's WBEZ. Each participating station would hire 100 reporters and editors.

"That’s 'public radio' grown into 'public media,' meaning that these news operations would be digital-first, text-heavy and video-ready, while porting over the audio from radio," Doctor writes. "In other words, not re-purposed 'radio' news, but the kind of standalone, multi-platform news operations we’re starting to see, as with TBD in Washington, D.C."

Kling hinted at the regional initiative last month when announcing his plans to retire and during a speech at the Aspen Institute in August. He described its broad outlines last fall during the Future of News Summit convened at MPR headquarters.