Jun 4, 2012

Publisher, editor of El Paso news nonprofit fired as it awaits 501(c)3 status

The publisher and editor of Newspaper Tree, a nonprofit newsroom in El Paso, Texas, have been fired "as a result of internal disputes," leaving just one employee, an investigative reporter, according to El Paso Inc.

Newspaper Tree is one of several nonprofit news organizations that have been waiting for more than a year for federal approval of their 501(c)3 status (Current, May 14). It is currently offline due to that delay.

Publisher Louie Gilot and editor Reyes Mata III were fired late in May. Investigative reporter Debbie Nathan remains.

Newspaper Tree Board President Richard Pineda, an associate communication professor in University of Texas at El Paso, confirmed that Gilot and Mata are no longer employed, but declined to discuss details. “I can’t comment on the personnel issue, but what I can say is the board is still committed to the mission we started with and the goals we have,” Pineda told El Paso Inc.

Panetta presents Vietnamese official with diary researched by "History Detectives"

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta presented a diary to Vietnam’s defense minister in Hanoi Monday (June 4) from the body of a North Vietnamese soldier killed in a 1966 firefight near Quang Ngai that had been provided to the Defense Department by the pubTV program History Detectives. The diary contains several entries and a photo of two young women, according to PBS.

"I'm pleased that History Detectives could, through Secretary Panetta, be part of a continuing process of reconciliation between our nations," said Wes Cowan, lead investigator for the show. "The diary and photograph are small reminders that the combatants who were lost on both sides were not simply warriors, but real people who will forever be remembered by their loved ones."

Marjorie Garner brought the diary to History Detectives for a friend, U.S. Marine Ira Frazure. After firing subsided in the 1966 battle, Frazure found the body of a North Vietnamese soldier in a machine gun pit with the small red journal on his chest.

In return, Vietnam's Minister of Defense Gen. Phung Quang Thanh turned over to Panetta several letters from a U.S. soldier killed in the conflict. Panetta hopes to deliver the letters to that soldier’s family members, who now live in California.

The History Detectives episode on the diary is scheduled to air Sept. 25.

Some 14 percent of monthly visitors are localized to stations

Currently about 14 percent of the monthly visitors to are localized to a station, reports Kristin Calhoun, director of PBS Interactive, on the PBS Station Products & Innovation blog. Localization overlays have been seen by 4,409,464 site visitors, with 453,301 clicking the “Choose My Station” button.

"Think of as a big prospecting platform for PBS member stations," Calhoun writes. "More people declaring an affinity for a favorite station means more touch points for a visitor to to engage with their local station. They have direct links to station support pages, custom TV tune-in information and access to their local station’s content via efforts like Project Merlin. And user survey data tells us that localized visitors are more engaged, they spend more time on the site."

Catholic League complains to NPR about coverage of abuse trial

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has asked NPR to respond to a complaint about a recent report on a sex-abuse trial involving church officials. The web version of Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s May 27 report opens as follows: “A clergy sex-abuse trial in is reaching a crescendo in a Philadelphia courtroom. One defendant is James Brennan, a priest accused of trying to rape a minor, which is not that unusual.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, took issue with the “not that unusual” portion of that paragraph. “In this day and age when it is considered taboo to make sweeping generalizations of a negative sort about so many demographic groups, it is astonishing that NPR would allow this bigoted swipe at Catholic priests,” he was quoted as saying in a post on the Catholic League’s website. Out of all the nation’s priests, few have been accused of molestation, and charges of rape have been less common than cases of “inappropriate touching,” he said.

“I hasten to add that I have done several interviews with NPR recently and have found their correspondents to be very professional,” Donohue said. “But what happened in this instance cannot go unanswered.”

The “not that unusual” characterization appears only in the online version of the story and not in Bradley’s on-air report.

We’ve asked NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos for comment via Twitter. UPDATE: Schumacher-Matos is working on a column about the matter, which he plans to publish soon.

Host of Iowa PTV's "Market to Market" dies unexpectedly at his farm

Mark Pearson, host of Iowa Public Television's nationally syndicated Market to Market, died unexpectedly Sunday (June 2) at his farm in rural Madison County of an apparent heart attack. He was 54.

The Des Moines Register reported that emergency responders were summoned to the residence around 5:30 p.m. Central.

"Iowa Public Television lost a friend and a colleague today," the station said in a statement late Sunday, "and the state of Iowa lost a smart, enthusiastic, and talented agricultural broadcaster with the passing of Mark Pearson."

"For more than 20 years, Mark was Market to Market — reporting on the latest news in agribusiness while providing critical insights for viewers across the nation," the statement said. "A true ambassador for rural America, Mark spoke extensively on the national circuit and was recognized wherever he went. He was gregarious and kindhearted, yet he took the business of agriculture very seriously. He knew the industry inside and out, both as a reporter and as a farmer through his own grain and livestock operation in Winterset."

Person also was known to many for his work hosting IPTV's State Fair coverage, the statement noted.

"He was a tenacious worker, but he always had time for a joke — often at his own expense," it added. "We're shocked and saddened by this tremendous loss, and our hearts go out to his wife Eden and their four children, whom he loved so dearly and spoke of so frequently. We join with thousands of others in mourning our dear friend Mark."

A station spokesperson told Current the show will continue, with a new host or hosts to be announced.