Jul 29, 2011

Ombudsman asks: Is PBS overlooking major arts story?

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler has written an interesting column on PBS arts coverage. Namely, why PBS, with its rejuvenated focus on the arts, hasn't run any programming about "one of the biggest stories in the art world," the ongoing controversy over the famous Barnes collection of paintings moving from its original Philadelphia home to a modern facility away from the city's museum district. "Is the broader PBS silence in any way reflective of the fact that two powerful, institutional forces in Philadelphia — the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Annenberg Foundation, who were important advocates, fundraisers and financial backers supporting the move of the collection to Philadelphia — are also important financial contributors to various PBS offerings?"

Nonprofit Seattle PostGlobe, launched with KCTS assistance in 2009, is closing

The Seattle PostGlobe, which launched in 2009 as an early online nonprofit newspaper venture with help from public broadcasting station KCTS 9 in Seattle, is closing, it announced today (July 29). "Donations have fallen off. Ads have generated no meaningful revenue — ever," writes Sally Deneen, co-founder and curator. "We began with no startup money. We obtained no grants. All of which actually provided unusual freedom. But as a volunteer-run site, we’ve run out of helping hands as unemployed journalists have left for jobs. (Which is a good thing!) So this is our final month."

The news site was created after the March 2009 closing of the city's nearly 150-year-old Post-Intelligencer newspaper. KCTS President Moss Bresnahan initially offered workspace in the station to some 20 laid-off journalists (Current, March 30, 2009) and for a time the station was PostGlobe's nonprofit fiscal sponsor, allowing KCTS donors to earmark money for the PostGlobe. The PostGlobe site also ran content KCTS created with InvestigateWest, another newsgathering operation started by former P-I journalists.

As Deneen says, "It’s been an eventful two years – sometimes fun, sometimes a mountain of work, but always worthwhile."

In WJMF takeover, WGBH shows how to make friends in college radio

Among the student-operated college stations to be converted into mainstream public radio FMs this year, the hand-over of Bryant University's WJMF to WGBH's 90.5 All Classical differs in one major way: the complete absence of an organized protest by students, alumni and other station supporters, according to Radio Survivor.

After looking into the deal, reporter Jennifer Watts discovers one reason why the management agreement sparked so few protests: with a 225-watt signal, WJMF's student-programmed broadcast service was oriented to the Bryant campus, and the station never developed a strong following in the larger community of Smithfield, R.I. "An indication of this is the fact that WJMF is currently on 'auto pilot' over the summer while students are on break," she writes. "To me, a lack of live DJs for extended periods of a station’s program schedule indicates that a station isn’t using its FM airwaves to their fullest potential."

In addition, managers from WGBH in Boston went to great lengths to convince student managers that the operating agreement was in their best interests. Benjamin Roe, managing director of WGBH Classical services, tells Watts: "[W]e thought it was very important to actually be able to visit the student body and the students and have a discussion in person so that it wasn’t something that was kind of abstract, but really talking about what kind of relationship [we] could ensure between the school and with WGBH."