Apr 9, 2012

Headliner Awards go to 18 pubmedia winners; WNET's "Need to Know" gets three

The prestigious National Headliner Awards, announced today (April 9) for excellence in print, broadcast and online media by the Press Club of Atlantic City, includes several public media outlets.

The big winner on pubTV was Need to Know from WNET in New York City, which took prizes in three categories: First place for science and health reporting for “Losing the Safety Net,” by Laura LeBlanc, Alison Stewart, Brenda Breslauer, Shelley Lewis and David Kreger; second place, environmental reporting, for “Toxic Law?” by LeBlanc, Dr. Emily Senay, Breslauer, Marc Rosenwasser and Kreger; and third place, TV news magazine, for “Help Wanted: the Uncounted Millions,” by Jessica Wang, William Brangham, Rosenwasser, John Larson, Scott Simon, Judith Starr Wolff and Tim Geraghty.

Two of the CPB-backed local journalism centers also took honors. For radio human interest story, Fronteras and KJZZ in Phoenix won second place for “Mexican Ghost Town” by Michel Marizco and Alisa Barba; and for radio news series, third place went to Changing Gears in Ann Arbor, Mich., for its series on manufacturing.

Two radio awards, best in show and feature and human interest story, went to “Bail Bonds: Fugitives on the Run, Bondsmen on the Hunt,” by Tristram Korten, Dan Grech and Kenny Malone of the Under the Sun series from WLRN and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting in Miami.

For radio health, medical or science reporting, second place went to “Decoding Prime,” by Lance Williams, Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig of California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In the radio breaking news or continuing coverage of a single event, Alabama Public Radio took second place for its coverage of a devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa.

First place in radio documentary or public affairs went to WBEZ in Chicago for its series on the city's Auburn Gresham neighborhood, by Bill Healy and Cate Cahan; second place to WCPN ideastream in Cleveland for The Sound of Ideas program.

For radio breaking news or continuing coverage, third place went to “Local firefighters honor 9/11 first responders,” by Ben Markus of Colorado Public Radio.

Colorado Public Radio also claimed first place for feature and human interest story for “Getting Hands on at Colorado Gators,” by Megan Verlee.

First place for radio documentary or public affairs went to WNYC and PRX for “Living 9/11” by Marianne McCune, Emily Botein, Karen Frillmann and Chris Bannon. Free Speech Radio News in Toledo, Ore., won third place in the category for “Mexico's Drug War in Context” by Shannon Young and Catherine Komp, a crowd-funded report.

Cleveland's ideastream also won third place in TV public service for “Lifegiving Transplant Stories," by Kay Colby, David Molpus and Mark Rosenberger.

TV news environmental reporting, second place was WTTW in Chicago for “Great Lakes Invasion,” by Ash-har Quraishi, Basma Babar-Quraishi and Tom Siegel.

California Watch also won for online-only site.

A full list of 2012 Headliners is here (PDF).

Channel sharing after spectrum auctions on agenda for April FCC meeting

The FCC's tentative agenda for its April 27 public meeting includes several items of interest to public broadcasters.

The commission will consider a report and order establishing a regulatory framework for channel sharing among TV licensees. Stations face the option of relinquishing some spectrum and sharing a 6 MHz channel  — possibly pairing commercial and noncom broadcasters — as part of the upcoming spectrum auction and subsequent repacking (Current, Feb. 28).

Also on the agenda is consideration of a notice of proposed rulemaking inviting public comment on allowing non-CPB grantees "to conduct on-air fundraising activities that interrupt regular programming for the benefit of third-party non-profit organizations." In its "Information Needs of Communities" report in June 2011, the FCC noted that religious broadcasters have argued that they should be able to "devote a small amount of air time, up to one percent, to help fundraise for charities and other nonprofits." Currently, noncoms, including pubcasters, must receive a special waiver to do so. In the June report, the FCC recommended that non-CPB recipients be allowed to spend that airtime fundraising. "The broadcasters should disclose how this time is used — including how much is helping charities in the local community — so the FCC can make an assessment about the efficacy of this experiment," the June report said.

And commissioners will consider a report and order to increase transparency and public access to information by moving the public files of TV stations from paper to the Internet, an issue that prompted APTS and PBS to file a comment with the FCC last December.

The commission will meet at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, with live streaming of the meeting on