Dec 1, 2011

NPR and Minnesota Public Radio win EPPY Awards for websites

NPR took four honors, and Minnesota Public Radio received one, in the 16th annual EPPY Awards, announced Wednesday (Nov. 30) by Editor & Publisher. The international awards recognize the best media-affilated websites in 43 categories. won for journalism website with more than 1 million unique monthly visitors. NPR's "Wanna Live Forever? Become A Noun" by Adam Cole and Robert Krulwich on Morning Edition also was awarded best animation on a website with more than 1 million unique monthly visitors. The enterprise/investigative video with more than 1 million unique monthly visitors was went to NPR for "Brain Wars: How The Military Is Failing Its Wounded", an investigation with ProPublica. And NPR's Monkey See won for entertainment blog with 250,000 to 1 million unique monthly visitors. Minnesota Public Radio News scored for local radio-affiliated website with 250,000 to 1 million unique monthly visitors. Here's a complete list of winners.

Republican spectrum auction bill moves on from House subcommittee

The House Communications Subcommittee today (Dec. 1) approved a GOP spectrum auction bill that would give the Federal Communications Commission authority to conduct auctions and share proceeds with participating broadcasters, reports TVNewsCheck. The measure passed 17-6.

An end to federal aid would undermine pubradio journalism, Cochran advises

In an op-ed pegged to Gary Knell's first day on the job as president of NPR, journalist and author Barbara Cochran urges the veteran pubcasting exec to ignore those who say public radio should shield itself from political pressures by giving up federal funding.

Such a move would make a small dent in NPR's budget — the news organization derives only 2 percent of its revenues from the congressional appropriations provided to CPB — but would do "tremendous damage" to local stations, writes Cochran, former president of the Radio and Television Digital News Association, for Huffington Post. Nearly all of the $100 million in federal funding distributed to public radio goes to 400 stations, and outlets in small markets and rural areas depend on this aid to continue operating.

"[L]ocal public radio stations are an important part of the nation's journalism ecosystem and could play an even bigger role," Cochran writes. "Their success is built on their partnership with NPR, especially its most popular news programs. Morning Edition and All Things Considered, which have powered NPR's phenomenal audience growth to 30 million listeners each week, contain breaks for local station material. This has allowed local public radio stations to build a strong news identity without requiring a large staff. Now is the time to build on that strength, not undermine it."

Cochran, a former NPR News v.p. who holds an endowed chair for the University of Missouri's Journalism School, wrote the December 2010 Aspen Institute white paper on pubcasting's potential to fill the gap in local news and information, Rethinking Public Media: More Local, More Inclusive, More Interactive.

"Ebert Presents" goes on hiatus due to funding challenges

Roger Ebert has pulled the plug on his movie review show, for now. "At the end of December, our public television program Ebert Presents At The Movies will go on hiatus," he wrote Wednesday (Nov. 30) on his blog, "while we find necessary funding. This move is necessary to allow the public television stations that carry our show to plan their programs for the beginning of the new year. We held off as long as possible but we had to give notice today." Ebert said he hopes the hiatus will be brief, and the show is considering a Kickstarter campaign.

PBS SoCal to challenge KCET in Los Angeles programming

The Los Angeles Business Journal (no link available) is reporting that KOCE soon will begin programming for Los Angeles audiences, taking on KCET, which went independent from PBS in January. "We need to convince people in L.A. and surrounding regions that we're not just concerned about Orange County," PBS SoCal/KOCE President Mel Rogers told the publication. The station is renaming its public affairs show Inside OC as SoCal Insider for the new season in January. "The move will allow KOCE to grow its audience without incurring the production costs of an entirely new program," the Journal notes.

BBC may be "the only news organization I would leave NPR for," Meyer says

In an interview with the Washington Post, Dick Meyer downplayed the management turmoil at NPR this year as a factor in his decision to leave his job as executive news editor. The offer to lead U.S. news operations for the BBC was too good to turn down, he explains. “I couldn’t ever think of saying no to an opportunity like this,” Meyer told the Post's Paul Farhi. “The BBC is the world’s dominant news organization. It has the same news values as NPR and a global footprint. . . . It might be the only news organization I would leave NPR for.”

As executive producer of BBC News, America, Meyer will oversee BBC World News America, a weeknightly newscast airing on public TV stations, and its website for U.S. audiences,

In a farewell memo to NPR staff, Meyer described highlights of his nearly four-year tenure as executive editor, including recruiting "remarkably talented people with fresh skills, eyes and ears into NPR's already remarkable newsroom" and learning from "some very gifted news leaders and executives."

"I am especially proud of the 'new' and all the progress made on the digital frontier," Meyer wrote, "of the integration of our newsrooms, of expanding our hard news capacity, of our investigative work, and of the important StateImpact project."

Meyer's exit, scheduled for Dec. 9, was announced on the eve of Gary Knell's arrival as NPR president and c.e.o. The job of senior v.p. of news, filled on an interim basis by Margaret Low Smith, has been open since Ellen Weiss resigned in January.