WGBH to establish private trusts backing more of its programs

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During a weekend symposium on non-profit investigative news, WGBH production chief Margaret Drain described how PBS’s top producing station plans to fund its national series by creating private trusts aiding programs such as Frontline and Nova. Fundraising has always been a challenge for WGBH producers, Drain told participants, and she acknowledged feeling “not very optimistic about the future of PBS.”

“The problem that PBS faces is the blurring between commercial and noncommercial broadcasting,” Drain said, according to MediaShift’s Mark Glaser, who reported from the Reva and David Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium in Berkeley, Calif. “I think we need to protect the noncommercial part of broadcasting. And it’s all in the perception. We do take ads on our websites because monetization is an issue, but we don’t want commercialization to foul our nest.

Drain was a panelist at the symposium, an invitation-only event convened by investigative reporter Lowell Bergman. Glaser filed several blog reports from the event: Day One, including an appearance by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange via Skype; and Day Two, sessions on open journalism collaborations [top item] and the panel on nonprofit investigative news on which Drain appeared with Robert Rosenthal of the Center for Investigative Reporting and Raney Aronson-Rath of Frontline, among others.

WGBH unveiled the Masterpiece Trust, backing production of the iconic British drama series, in January.