“PBS NewsHour” touts its calm, reasoned approach to the news

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Emphasizing its non-ideological news coverage, PBS Newshour tried out a new catch phrase Jan. 9 during the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena: “Brave enough not to take sides, strong enough not to shout.”

“We haven’t actually used it before today and we thought it might be a good opportunity to kind of roll that out,” said Simon Marks, president of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Marks said that slogan survived scrutiny while others didn’t. “At one point, we were looking at ‘The original no-spin zone,’ but we decided not to go there.”

The new phrase is intended to emphasize the difference between PBS news values and those of other news operations. “The environment in which we’re operating is filled with organizations that are increasingly taking positions and trying to, in large measure, preach to choirs they’ve already identified,” Marks said.

The calmer PBS approach is gaining favor with more people, particularly online. In a news release, Newshour said the number of daily online visitors to its website had more than tripled in the last year, from 60,000 to more than 200,000. The show melded its on-air and online staffs and coverage a year ago this month (Current, Jan. 11, 2010). While the web traffic increased, the number of broadcast viewers during that time has remained unchanged.