“Cove-like” pubaffairs site coming soon to stations from PBS

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Starting this fall, Frontline will be more aggressive with viewer engagement on the Web, Executive Producer David Fanning said during yesterday’s panel on PBS’s news and public affairs initiative, moderated by NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan. “A narrative bright line runs through the mists of material,” Fanning said. “The idea is to say, here it is, but you don’t have to stay up three nights to figure it out.” Documents will be posted and Frontline journalists will point site visitors to the most important facts. “The Cigarette Papers” in 1998 provides a good example: “Five thousand pages of a drama in three acts starting in 1952,” Fanning said. “That is the kind of work public media can do, and now no one else does. It’s a great space we can occupy while the rest of the world reduces news to small bits.” Frontline is also putting up video before stories air. The audience Tweeted questions to the panel (first up, “Where did Hari get his shirt?”) and in lieu of spoken introductions each member’s Twitter page was displayed on the screen—except for Fanning, who does not Tweet. Also on stage was Christine Montgomery, managing editor of PBS Interactive, who said that the news initiative will provide a website, apps and other tools for stations. “It’s very Cove-like,” she said, referring to the PBS video player. “You can create a place for local and national content to live together, all around news.”