Frontline creates cross-platform investigative unit with help from Ford Foundation

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.

NPR to close Kabul bureau

When the 13-year international combat mission ends in Afghanistan Dec. 31, NPR’s Kabul bureau will also close. NPR decided in 2012 that it would close the Kabul bureau this year because of the planned reduction of U.S. troops in the country, according to an NPR spokesperson. Starting in 2015, coverage of Afghanistan will be handled by Philip Reeves, NPR’s correspondent based in Islamabad, Pakistan. “We are confident that Phil Reeves can cover the news coming from Afghanistan,” said Edith Chapin, senior supervising editor of NPR’s International Desk, through a spokesperson.

Study of engaging digital stories helps stations’ newsrooms set priorities

A new vocabulary is emerging in public radio newsrooms to help journalists communicate and make decisions about online coverage that attracts and builds digital audiences. Developed through the Local Stories Project, an NPR Digital Services initiative that began as a geotargeting experiment on Facebook, the vocabulary includes phrases like “topical buzzer” — a story that provides a unique take on a subject that everyone is talking about — or  “curiosity stimulator,” for a piece with a science or technology angle. The concepts are explained in this blog post, “9 Types of Local Stories that Cause Engagement.” As newsrooms around the country adjust to the demands of producing distinctive coverage within their local markets, reporters increasingly are required to serve two news platforms, each with a different audience, without spinning their wheels. “It’s like growing a new arm, while your other arms are busy doing what you do.

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.

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.