The Pub #10: Pronunciation matters, techies leaving public media, SXSW and reporting on your employer

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Reddy, Bui

Ian Hill at KQED. Angela Kim at Marketplace. Jessica Plautz at KPBS. Andrew Phelps at WBUR. Jonathan Coffman at PBS. Lisa Chow and Andy Carvin at NPR. Julie Whitaker, Elizabeth Zagroba, Bryan Young, all at WNYC.

These are just some of the talented tech-savvy people who have left their jobs in public media in recent years. They are data journalists, social media strategists, podcasters — everything public media needs — and now they’re at places like Mashable, Yahoo, FiveThirtyEight, Gimlet Media, the New York Times and Dell.

What’s going on here? On The Pub, I asked another talented techie for her thoughts. Kim Bui left her job at KPCC in Pasadena, Calif., a couple years ago. Now she is the West Coast producer for Reported.ly, the social media newsroom run by First Look Media.

Bui said part of what leads people like her to jump ship is just frustration — public media newsrooms have been slow to go all-in on digital. But the biggest factor, she said, is that “there’s no way to move up.”

Broadcast reporters have clear paths of advancement, becoming editors, show producers or news managers. But, Bui said, “for someone in digital, there’s not a ton of movement you can make. You know, you can go from web producer, to social media person, back to web producer, maybe over to data, and then that’s it.”

For Bui, she was hoping to become an editor, but she saw no path to that role at KPCC. On this week’s episode, we contemplate how public media can plug the brain drain.

Also on the show:

  • Where is the line between pronouncing a foreign name or word correctly, and over-pronouncing it?
  • Current’s Mike Janssen reports from SXSW, where several recent public media dust-ups have been looming large
  • NPR updates its policy governing when reporters at university licensee stations are allowed to file stories about their own employers; we talk to Emily Reddy, news director at Penn State’s WPSU
  • Your responses to my argument that public media reporters should shed conventional rules of impartiality

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We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at ragusea_ac@mercer.edu or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to aragusea@gmail.com, either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.