Mar 29, 2011

MacNeil returns to NewsHour for special reports on autism

Robert MacNeil, co-founder of PBS NewsHour, is returning to the show to present Autism Today, a six-part series on the disorder that affects 1 in 110 children. MacNeil's 6-year-old grandson, Nick, has been diagnosed with autism. “I’ve been a reporter on and off for 50 years, but I’ve never brought my family into a story — until Nick, because he moves me deeply,” MacNeil said in a statement today (March 29). MacNeil and producer Caren Zucker, who has a 16-year-old son with the disorder, introduce the series on April 18.

In the first episode, MacNeil brings viewers to meet his daughter and grandson in Cambridge, Mass., to see how autism involves the whole family, including Nick's 10-year-old sister, Neely. Nick's autism hinders not only his brain development but also produces physical ailments affecting his whole body. Subsequent reports, which run through April 26, focus on topics including causes, treatment and adults with autism.

After each night’s broadcast there'll be online activities including live chats. Twitter users can hashtag #autismtoday to join in the conversation.

Got videos?

OK, so your station has some cool videos online. Now what? Get ideas for using them to pull in more eyeballs during a National Center for Media Engagement webinar at 1 p.m. Eastern Wednesday (March 30). Your electronic hosts will be Kevin Dando, PBS's head of digital and education communications and YouTube channel guru, and Greg Jarboe, president of SEO-PR, an expert in search engine optimization. Register online here.

NPR halts search for news exec to focus on top post

NPR is suspending its search for a senior vice president for news until it hires a permanent c.e.o., according to an email obtained by The Hill newspaper Monday (March 28). In the memo, NPR interim chief exec Joyce Slocum told staff that the decision was made to stop the search for Ellen Weiss's replacement after consulting with members of the search advisory committee. Weiss was forced to resign in January over her role in the firing of senior correspondent Juan Williams (Current, March 9). NPR President Vivian Schiller resigned after conservative activist James O'Keefe's undercover video sting of network fundraiser Ron Schiller (Current, March 21).

Slocum said several candidates for the senior news position have indicated interest in the top position. "It’s only fair that the c.e.o. have a key role in selecting the [senior vice president] News and that the [senior vice president] News know who his or her long-term boss will be when coming into the position," she said.

"I know that we all want to fill these roles as quickly as possible with permanent leadership. At the same time, I think we all want to follow the best possible process for each of these enormously important hiring decisions. This approach will help accomplish both objectives."

NPR runs Frontline reporting segment on WikiLeak soldier

Frontline today (March 29) provided NPR's Morning Edition portions of its reporting on the private life of Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the soldier who stands accused of leaking the largest cache of classified documents in U.S. history to the WikiLeaks website. It's part of the newsmag's ongoing collaborative efforts to provide breaking news to a wider audience through pubmedia partners.

Portions of Frontline correspondent Martin Smith's exclusive interview with Manning's father that ran on PBS NewsHour on March 10 sparked national headlines, when the elder Manning alleged his son was being mistreated in detention.

“That strategic public media partnership allowed both Frontline and PBS NewsHour to benefit from the immediate release of breaking news,” Frontline senior series producer Raney Aronson-Rath told Current in a statement. Linda Winslow, NewsHour e.p., said such collaborations "strengthen public media’s presence in the news and public affairs landscape more than ever."

In today's report on Morning Edition, Manning's father recalled past pivotal incidents, including pushing his reluctant son to join the Army. The segment includes audio of a 911 call in which Bradley Manning allegedly threatens his stepmother with a knife.