Thursday roundup: Serial spawns much chatter; Music X to launch at SXSW 2015

• It's Thursday, which means that fans of Serial are getting their weekly dose of podcast crack. The This American Life spinoff, which digs into the details of a 1999 Baltimore murder case, has spawned a bevy of equally obsessive commentary, including a podcast about the podcast from Slate. But the vortex of meta-analysis doesn't end there — an English professor has started a weekly video chat with Rabia Chaudry, the lawyer who brought the murder case to the attention of Serial's Sarah Koenig (and who is also blogging about Serial). "I am interested in exploring how new media engagement affects narrative and knowledge, and Serial presented an fertile ground in which to ask those questions," writes Pete Rorabaugh. There's also the Serial subreddit, which as a listener I am studiously avoiding lest I fall into a wormhole from which I cannot return. Plus, I haven't listened to today's episode yet. Continue Reading

Thursday roundup: USDA backs digital projects; PBS hires Fox exec for digital

• Public TV stations in four states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will receive a total of $2.5 million in federal grants for upgrading transmitters, translators and production equipment. The grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced Wednesday, are part of the 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized by Congress. We'll have to expense a trip to the islands to report back on their new equipment. • PBS has hired Don Wilcox, a former executive with Fox Broadcasting Corp., as v.p. of digital marketing and services. At Fox, Wilcox was v.p. and g.m. of branded entertainment, overseeing websites including, American Idol's and, which now just redirects to a YouTube page, so maybe he left Fox with that one on his thumb drive. Continue Reading

NPR, WAMU limit use of Washington football team’s name

An NPR editor has recommended that network journalists avoid referring to the Washington Redskins by their name and should instead use "Washington" or "the team" as much as possible. Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott provided the guidance Oct. 10 amid a growing backlash against a name that is a racial slur. Memmott said he is not calling for an outright ban, but that use of the name should be curtailed under the organization’s policy regarding potentially offensive language. “The team’s name is the name and our job is to report on the world as it is, not to take a position or become part of the story,” Memmott wrote. Continue Reading

Public TV freelancers in Writers Guild approve contract extension

More than 200 members of the Writers Guild of America who work as freelancers in public TV have ratified a two-year extension of their current contract, which includes raises in salary minimums and additional pension contributions from WGBH in Boston and WNET in New York. The guild represents members working on national programs including Frontline, American Experience, Nova, American Masters, Nature and Great Performances. After four months of negotiations, members unanimously approved the extension Tuesday. It provides a 2 percent raise in minimum salaries retroactive to July 1, which increases to 2.5 percent July 1, 2015. Employers also will contribute an additional .5 percent to the Producer-Writers Guild of America pension plan. Continue Reading