OPB, Center for Investigative Reporting launch public TV version of Reveal

A new series from the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting brings extensive investigative journalism to public television in four hourlong episodes. In its short run, Reveal aims to find new and engaging ways to tell investigative stories. Available to stations starting today, the show is presented by Oregon Public Broadcasting and distributed by the National Educational Telecommunications Association.  

An episode of Reveal is composed as a visual counterpart to a newspaper — starting with a topical, longer report, moving on to shorter reports and ending with an informative animation component. In one episode, a story early in the show focuses on a woman from Afghanistan who ran away from an arranged marriage to be with the man she loved, only to be found and sent to prison by her father. Continue Reading

Tiny news team at Lakeland Public Television fills gap left by commercial TV

Station managers who worry they can’t afford to do news and public affairs have only to look at Lakeland Public Television in Bemidji, Minn., for inspiration. Since 1998, the station has produced a full half-hour weeknight news program. It currently operates on a yearly budget of just $375,000 to $400,000. Lakeland News is “structured like a commercial newscast, without commercials,” said Bill Sanford, the station’s chief executive and director of engineering. It was conceived after the station secured funding to evaluate how to reinvent itself. Continue Reading

Kansas City’s KCPT picks up gauntlet to expand local news coverage

Three years ago, a delegation from Kansas City Public Television, including the board chair, trekked out to San Diego’s KPBS to evaluate how that station’s extensive radio, television and online news operation might be adapted in Kansas City. A few months later, an influential visitor to Kansas City, PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer, urged KCPT leaders to act on their nascent ambitions to develop a locally focused news service for the community. Over dinner at the restaurant Lidia’s, Lehrer “kind of threw the gauntlet down,” recalled Kliff Kuehl, KCPT president, challenging executives to step up the station’s commitment to news coverage. But the proposal to transform KCPT into a true local news hub remained mostly an aspiration until a surprise major grant from the Hale Family Foundation arrived in July 2013. Only then was the station able to turn its ambitions into something substantive and seemingly sustainable. Continue Reading

Nonprofit Marshall Project gears up for putting criminal justice reform on national agenda

The Washington Post had a blockbuster front-page investigation with a lengthy Aug. 3 story about an unreliable witness in a Texas execution case. But the story came from a new kid on the block. “The Prosecutor and the Snitch” was the first story to be published by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news site focused on criminal justice reform. The Marshall Project, named after former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, plans to officially launch in October. Continue Reading

Documentary series The View From Here attracts national attention with multimedia, audience interaction

A documentary series produced by Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, Calif., focuses solely on issues in the station's home state yet has attracted attention from NPR and a national audience by creating digital content to accompany hourlong radio documentaries. Launched in 2011, The View From Here comprises two in-depth multimedia documentaries a year. Though the focus is local, the show's producers choose topics that often transcend California's borders, such as high-school dropout rates and autism among adults. The most recent documentary, “Who Cares,” examined the physical and emotional toll of caring for parents, spouses and children with disabilities. In addition to a radio documentary, "Who Cares" included photos, videos and a blog, Caregivers Speak, which collects stories about family caregivers. Continue Reading

After criticism, NPR gives freer rein to upcoming ombudsman

NPR has stepped back from plans to curtail its ombudsman's duties after receiving criticism from journalists and leaders of its member stations. The blowback began with a blog post by New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, who pointed out Monday that a job posting for NPR's next ombudsman specified that the in-house watchdog should refrain from "commentary" and "judgment." Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR's current ombudsman, will end his three-year term in September. Rosen saw the change in language as an effort to defang the ombudsman, which he argued would remove a valuable check on NPR's reporting. Some station leaders noted Rosen's post and shared his concerns. Continue Reading

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