Barriers to newsroom collaborations lower than pubcasters think

“Neither journalism nor public life will move forward until the public actually rethinks and reinterprets what journalism is: not the science or information of culture, but its poetry and conversation.” — James Carey, “The Mass Media and Democracy,” Journal of International Affairs, June 22, 1993

Since 2009, CPB has provided approximately $23.2 million to establish more than 40 journalism partnerships at public broadcasting stations. These included Project Argo, a collection of topically focused local blogs produced by NPR and 12 public radio stations; and the Association of Independents in Radio’s Localore, a cross-platform radio and television content partnership that paired indie producers with 10 stations. CPB’s investments in nine Local Journalism Centers have been the most ambitious of these initiatives. These collaborations involved 56 public stations of various licensee types and enabled multimedia production across public radio, television and digital platforms.
Many of these collaborative projects operated independently of host stations’ newsrooms, and they departed from the normal broadcast-centered practices and routines to create additional content about specific topics. Public radio distributors and outside journalism organizations have also laid the roadbed for collaborative journalism through projects such as NPR’s State Impact initiative, Public Radio International’s state-accountability series and Public Radio Exchange’s new investigative program, Reveal. Continue Reading

Forthcoming NPR mobile app could advance public radio’s quest for digital audience

Public radio executives who have long bemoaned the field’s collective inability to pursue innovation have a new opportunity to alter that dynamic as they evaluate a new digital-service strategy crafted and advanced by NPR. The plan, centered on mobile digital service, was described in detail by NPR content chief Kinsey Wilson during last month’s Public Media Summit in Washington, D.C. In an hourlong session, he described the overarching strategy and briefly discussed an audio application developed to advance it. The mobile app, introduced by Wilson as the “Infinite Player," expands on a desktop-based app that NPR released under the same name in 2011. The mobile version is slated for full release this spring. This strategy and the app that supports it will be major topics of discussion during regional station consultations that NPR began convening this week. Continue Reading

A digital revolution for public radio fundraising

Marketing consultant John Sutton has been forecasting what public radio will look like in 2018, and his predictions, published on his blog RadioSutton since February, have been provocative. Sutton is among the pubradio analysts who believe that federal funding “will be sharply reduced or gone in five years.” He also believes that digital listening will fragment the audience enough that eventually NPR will have to raise money directly from listeners or the current public radio economic model will collapse. Below, he lays out a proposal for overhauling public radio fundraising and how it makes both dollars and sense. Imagine a future in which listeners donate 26 percent more money to public radio at half the cost. Imagine that NPR has nearly $60 million more to invest annually in world-class journalism and development of new programs.

Is this imaginative exercise making you uncomfortable? Continue Reading

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Why don’t more stations adopt ‘sustainer’ ways?

Public radio stations have widely adopted sustaining-member programs over the last several years. Because of this, one might assume that a significant number of sustainers contribute to public radio every month. However, the reality for most public radio stations is quite the opposite. Continue Reading

Eric Nuzum

Where does Car Talk belong? Let listeners decide

NPR's v.p. of programming responds Ira Glass's suggestion that stations not devote prime weekend airtime to Car Talk reruns after the Magliozzi brothers retire this fall. Like Ira, I’m really excited about all the innovation in public radio today. Each of these new programs will need several things if they are to grow and prosper: an intellectual spark, real talent giving them a unique, authentic voice, money, smart plans for development, and stations willing to take a small risk. There is one other critical thing they need to grow and prosper: Car Talk. Airing Car Talk on Saturday mornings doesn’t stand in the way of innovation. Continue Reading

Chris Satullo

Satullo: You’ll make mistakes, so be sure to learn from them

Do you have the courage to fail? I asked that leading question during a keynote address to public media journalists who attended “Taking News Digital,” a June 7–9 workshop exploring the lessons we’ve learned at WHYY since launching NewsWorks.org in November 2010. We have two years of experience launching and running NewsWorks as a digital, multimedia news operation with its own distinct brand. It blends reporting by WHYY’s news staff with the work of freelancers, content partners and users. CPB provided two grants totaling nearly $1.2 million to support the NewsWorks project. Continue Reading

Want new radio hits on Saturday? Step 1: Drop Car Talk when the guys retire

I enjoy Car Talk. I like those guys. And as a public radio lifer, I’m grateful for what Tom and Ray Magliozzi did to bring a vast audience to public radio, year after year.. ... But — with all respect to Doug Berman and my colleagues at Car Talk Plaza — I think when they stop making new episodes in October, they should be pulled from Saturday mornings. Continue Reading