Kickstarter users have given more than $42M to documentaries

Crowdfunding website Kickstarter announced Thursday that independent film projects on its site had passed the $100 million mark in pledges since its 2009 launch, with $42.6 million of that total pledged to documentaries — the largest share of any film genre. Many Kickstarter-funded documentaries find their way to larger success, whether through film festivals, theatrical distribution or airings on networks like PBS. This year, three Kickstarter-assisted documentary features shortlisted for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination will also air on PBS in 2013: The Waiting Room, Detropia and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

George Stoney, public-access television pioneer, dies at 96

George Stoney, a pioneering documentarian widely regarded as the father of public-access television, died July 12 at his Manhattan home, days after celebrating his 96th birthday. Stoney was a prolific filmmaker and longtime New York University professor, and was active on the boards of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public-access channel, and the Alliance for Community Media. He co-founded the Alternate Media Center, the organization that gave birth to public-access television. “A catalyst, that was the word for George,” said Barbara Abrash, former director of public programs at the Center for Media, Culture and History at NYU, and a longtime colleague and friend. “He inspired people to do what they could do best and was full of ambition, but only for worthwhile pursuits.”

Stoney was born July 1, 1916, in Winston-Salem, N.C., and his career ran the gamut: In addition to his work as a filmmaker, professor, and journalist, he served as a photo intelligence officer during WWII.

Not In Our Town: ‘Public media at its best’ seeks civility

A movement against hate crimes called Not In Our Town, spawned by a 1995 documentary on PBS, has come to represent many things. To the executive producer, NIOT is a way to help viewers counter incidents of bigotry and violence. Public broadcasting stations use it to reach into diverse communities in meaningful ways. A media scholar sees NIOT as a laboratory to breed and study methods of engagement. Most importantly, to citizens frustrated by community issues that seem impossible to resolve, NIOT suggests a way to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.

Financial outlook dims for indies in public media

Independent journalists in public media are having an increasingly tough time earning a living as producers for public TV and radio, according to a survey commissioned by the Association of Independents in Radio and the Independent Television Service. Over the past three years, 66 percent of radio indies who responded to the survey reported worsening financial problems.

The survey by Market Trends Research, backed by CPB, drew responses from 206 indies who have created content for public TV, radio or affiliated websites in the past two years. The income outlook among radio indies, who made up 75 percent of survey respondents, is somewhat brighter than for those working in television, film and web production. Forty-one percent of TV and film indies said they expect to work with nonprofits and foundations as a source of future income, and nearly one-third see opportunities in education. Radio indies participating in the survey expressed optimism about their ties to local stations.