Frontline has hired two investigative reporters and promoted a digital specialist to create its first desk producing original investigative journalism across platforms.
The Enterprise Journalism Group, announced Wednesday, consists of new hires James Jacoby and Anya Bourg, who previously produced for CBS’s 60 Minutes. Frontline’s senior digital reporter, Sarah Childress, was promoted onto the team. The group is supported by an $800,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, announced in June. Over the next two years, the journalists will report major projects via text, video, photos, audio and graphics across Frontline’s platforms.
Raney Aronson-Rath, deputy executive producer, said journalistic flexibility is driving the project. “Maybe there’s a story that should go digital-first, so we get it up quickly,” she said.
Frontline, public television’s investigative news showcase, announced two major donations Wednesday, including the largest grant from individuals in its 30-year history. Most of the $5 million from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler, longtime supporters of producing station WGBH, will create a reporting endowment for the program to ensure the series’ long-term sustainability. The remaining $1.5 million will support existing programming and digital efforts over four years. Meanwhile, a two-year, $800,000 gift from the Ford Foundation will back a new cross-platform Enterprise Journalism Group. The funds will pay for initial recruits for the in-house group of digital journalists and producers.
• I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! Granted, that's probably not among the verses in The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!, a new collection of poems based on public broadcasting stories and shows. But the book does contain pubmedia-centric contributions from more than 50 poets who were inspired by Radiolab, Performance Today, A Prairie Home Companion and other fare. “For me, the greatest delight in receiving these pieces has been to recognize the stories I have heard on the radio, with the added dimension of another’s perception added in,” writes editor Robbi Nester. “This brings home the truth that each of us could start with the same raw material and yet produce finished products that resemble one another only in incidental ways.”
• Frontline today won a George Polk Award for "League of Denial," its investigation of the NFL's efforts to downplay evidence linking head injuries of football players to long-term brain disorders. The nonprofit newsroom Center for Public Integrity also won a Polk for "After the Meltdown," which explored the aftermath of economic crash caused by sub-prime mortgage lenders. A full list of Polk winners, presented by Long Island University, is here. • While CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan agrees with WNET's decision to return a $3.5 million grant for its series reporting on public pensions, he remains troubled by "the lack of transparency by both WNET and PBS" in handling the controversy. He suggests the original agreement between WNET and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation needs to be disclosed.
Kirk, a key contributor to PBS's Frontline since its inception, was cited for his body of work in producing more than 200 investigative documentaries. He joined Frontline as senior producer for its 1983 national debut on PBS; in 1987, he left the show to produce through his own independent company, the Kirk Documentary Group. His documentary films have been recognized with Peabody Awards, duPont-Columbias, a George Polk Award, national Emmys and Writers Guild of America awards. Kirk earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho in 1971 and was inducted into the UI Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000. The university presented the honorary degree Dec.