NewsHour sticks to founding mission: “Allow the audience to reach its own decisions”

In the first installment of our interview with Linda Winslow, outgoing e.p. of PBS NewsHour, she discussed her early start in broadcast journalism and working with Fred Friendly, a founding father of public broadcasting. In this, the second of three parts, she discusses the start of the NewsHour, working as a woman in media, and the NewsHour's commitment to its mission. Part three will be posted next week. This transcript has been edited. Current: What did you do next after Public Broadcasting Laboratory? Continue Reading

Thursday roundup: Flappy Bert takes to the air, WAMU host skis to work

• Less than a week after the maker of the wildly popular mobile game Flappy Bird announced he would pull the plug on his creation, Sesame Workshop has introduced the browser game Flappy Bert. The gameplay, where players control a bird as it navigates Sesame Street's Bert among obstacles, draws heavily on the original. It's one of several Flappy Bird clones on the market but the only one starring Bert in an 8-bit sheen. • Today marks the premiere of a series of web video specials co-produced by PBS NewsHour and Al-Monitor, a news site featuring reporting and analysis by journalists and experts from the Middle East. The first, posting at 7 p.m. Eastern time, focuses on Syria. Continue Reading

Friday roundup: NewsHour launches new website; podcasting patent fight continues

• PBS NewsHour unveiled a redesigned website Thursday, featuring responsive design, new navigation menus and an expanded digital editorial presence. The new site combines stories from the program's weekday and weekend editions, as Current reported in July 2013. "This new site is designed to meet the demands of an expanding and more involved audience," NewsHour Creative Director Travis Daub wrote in an introductory post, adding that the redesign is the most expansive in the website's 18-year history. • Pittsburgh Public Media has applied to the FCC for permission to boost the wattage of WYZR-FM, the jazz station it launched in August 2013. The proposed boost to 10,000 watts still would not get WYZR into Pittsburgh from its location in Bethany, W.Va., PPM President Chuck Leavens told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Continue Reading

Latino advocacy group criticizes PBS treatment of newsman Ray Suarez

A grass-roots organization that protested Ken Burns’s exclusion of World War II Latino soldiers’ experiences from his 2007 documentary The War is speaking out in the wake of PBS NewsHour Chief National Correspondent Ray Suarez’s resignation from the program. Defend the Honor, headed by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, sent an Oct. 31 email to its 5,000-member database saying it is “distressed that PBS has treated veteran journalist Ray Suarez so disrespectfully.” Suarez left the show Oct. 25 after nearly 15 years and subsequently told Fox News Latino in an Oct. 28 interview that he felt his contributions to the program had been minimized during his tenure. Continue Reading

Ray Suarez resigning from PBS NewsHour

This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. Ray Suarez, chief national correspondent for PBS NewsHour, is resigning after 14 years with the program, effective Oct. 25. Executive Producer Linda Winslow told the staff in a memo late this afternoon that Suarez is leaving to "pursue several other ventures," including writing a book. The news comes three days after NewsHour founders Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil announced they intended to transfer ownership of the program to presenting station and producing partner WETA in Arlington, Va. Continue Reading

MacNeil, Lehrer propose to transfer ownership of PBS NewsHour to WETA

Leaders of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, the company behind the PBS NewsHour, are negotiating to transfer ownership to co-producer WETA in Arlington, Va., according to an internal letter sent Tuesday to staffers. Program founders and original co-anchors Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil wrote that their reasons for relinquishing ownership at this time include "the probability of increasing our fundraising abilities" for the weeknightly news magazine. The New York Times reported in June that the program was in financial trouble and had received infusions of cash from PBS several times over the past year. Currently, Lehrer and MacNeil share ownership with Liberty Media, which acquired a majority interest in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (MLP) 18 years ago. Liberty owns interests in various media, communications and entertainment businesses including SiriusXM, Barnes & Noble and the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball franchise. Continue Reading