Dec 27, 2010

NPR lands in third place on annual PR blunders list

NPR's handling of the Juan Williams controversy holds the No. 3 spot on the 16th annual year-end "Top 10 PR Blunders List," compiled by San Francisco's Fineman PR. It ranks behind BP's reaction to its disastrous oil spill, and Toyota's decisions after its massive recall.

"Although [NPR] commentator Juan Williams raised eyebrows when he told Bill O'Reilly of FOX News' The O'Reilly Factor that flying on airplanes with overt Muslims made him nervous, it was NPR that took the damaging reputational hit," the list notes. It faults NPR President Vivan Schiller for firing Williams over the phone and later hinting that he had psychological problems.

Fineman PR says it "assembles the annual PR Blunders List as a reminder that good public relations is critical to businesses and organizations. Selections are limited to Americans, American companies or offenses that occurred in America. Selections are limited to avoidable acts or omissions that caused adverse publicity; image damage was done to self, company, society or others; and acts that were widely reported in 2010."

Nebraska pubTV crew endures challenging conditions in Antarctica

Think it's cold where you are? A Nebraska Educational Television crew endured 35-degrees-below-zero temperatures when they shot Tuesday's (Dec. 28) Nova episode, "Secrets Beneath the Ice." Since 2005, scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have journeyed to Antarctica to drill through ice and rock to find clues to what might happen if the Earth's atmosphere and oceans continue to warm.

Producer Gary Hochman, videographer/editor Brian Seifferlein and senior audio engineer Jim Lenertz traveled from Lincoln, Neb., to McMurdo Station on the frozen continent, landing on 26 feet of ice. Little thermometers that came with survival gear couldn't register low enough. Cameras froze. The 24/7 daylight meant aerial photos were shot in softer light at 2 a.m.

"The goal was to tell a story that makes sense to the person at home, the viewer," Hochman said. "We made a character out of Antarctica because our main character couldn't speak for itself."

MPT President Rob Shuman to retire in June

Robert J. Shuman, president of Maryland Public Television since 1986, announced last week that he’ll retire at the end of June.

The state-operated network operates, one of the more active public media sites for K-12 education, and produces MotorWeek, among other national programs.

Shuman succeeded Raymond Ho, who was fired in 1985 after an unsuccessful drive to establish MPT as an international coproducer. The network later lost its major national production when Louis Rukeyser rebelled at PBS/MPT plans to refresh Wall Street Week, and new version without him failed to take hold.

MPT took a shot at a nightly newscast, but NewsnightMaryand didn’t find ongoing funding and ended in 1991. Now Shuman is working with the University of Maryland’s j-school to start an online news service. More on that in Current

Shuman’s MPT went on to establish Maryland-centric programming and educational services as its specialty.

“In many ways, I thought this would be an easy decision for me since it actually would be a second retirement,” Shuman said in a memo to his staff Dec. 10. “That turned out not to be the case, as staff members and Commissioners have become more like family and special friends over the years than I ever could have imagined.”

Shuman had planned his first retirement after running the independent cable network The Learning Channel for 10 years and selling it to Discovery Communications in 1991, investing the proceeds in a foundation. Before that he helped establish the channel with the pioneer Appalachian Educational Satellite Network, which became the American Community Service Network.

A search committee of the Maryland commission will recruit a new president/c.e.o. for MPT.