Nov 7, 2011

CPB, PBS announce Expanded Learning Through Transmedia Content test stations

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS today (Nov. 7) announced the 11 public television stations that will serve as demonstration sites to test math and literacy content developed through Ready To Learn's Expanded Learning Through Transmedia Content initiative. The project features video, online games, mobile apps and off-line activities using PBS Kids characters. The stations: Detroit Public Television; Iowa Public Television; Eight, Arizona PBS;  KBTC in Tacoma, Wash.; Maryland Public Television; Montana PBS; Vegas PBS; WFSU, Tallahassee, Fla.; WGBY, Springfield, Mass.; WNET/Thirteen, New York City; and Cleveland's WVIZ/PBS ideastream.

The stations will introduce the new Ready To Learn content, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, for use in homes, schools, after-school programs, summer programs, and libraries; train caregivers and educators on its use; and create community awareness campaigns.

The project is designed to improve math and literacy skills in children ages 2-8, particularly those from low income families. So far, more than 45 new interactive games have launched. Bilingual resources are coming soon.

NewsWorks going strong after one year

Here's a look back over the first year of NewsWorks, WHYY's ambitious hyperlocal news site for northwest Philly. It was the station’s first attempt at online news, and is powered by around $1.1 million from CPB and $100,000 from the Knight Foundation, in addition to several other foundations. Chris Satullo, the station’s executive director for news and civic dialogue, told the Nieman Journalism Lab that traffic to the site peaked in August, with 301,000 unique visitors and 1.9 million pageviews. And in May, WHYY created a NewsWorks radio show based on the web-based reporting — “maybe a first for public broadcasting,” Satullo said — called NewsWorks Tonight.

About 30 citizen journalists contribute to the site regularly. Contributors are trained and paid, between $50 and $150, sometimes more for enterprise or multimedia stories. Daylong workshops for prospective contributors, Correspondents U, have yielded several steady writers.

Satullo says he is consulting “big brains” for questions about the future of the site, including how other pubradio stations can replicate the initiative.

Roger Ebert says show needs a funding "angel," or will end soon

"Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season," writes Roger Ebert on his Sun-Times blog. " There. I've said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We'll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can't afford to finance it any longer." He says that since going on the air in January 2011, Ebert Presents At The Movies has been almost entirely funded by he and his his wife, Chaz, plus $25,000 from the Kanbar Charitable Trust. "We can't afford to support the show any longer. That's what it comes down to," Ebert says. The program has a coverage of more than 90 percent of the country, all of the top 50 markets, and is distributed by American Public Television.

Challenging times for PBS NewsHour

PBS NewsHour is navigating troubled waters, the New York Times reports. The show’s main corporate underwriter, Chevron, is departing at the end of the year, taking $2 million from NewsHour's $27 million annual budget; the Knight Foundation, which helped finance the overhaul of the show’s Web site in late 2009, has declined to provide more support. Its political editor, David Chalian, and managing editor for digital news, Maureen Hoch, are both leaving for other positions. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions president and the head of fund-raising and marketing also left for new opportunities. Longtime anchor Jim Lehrer, who stepped away from the weeknight anchor chair in June for a reduced role, may leave permanently in December. And Lehrer told the Times that he has heard complaints from some PBS member stations that the program’s new format, featuring a different pair of senior correspondents as anchors each night, was confusing to viewers. The show drew 10.7 million total viewers in September, down 11 percent from 12 million a year ago.