The dustup, or at least perceived dustup, between Harper’s and PBS is getting more attention, with the magazine’s publisher sharing more details with the Columbia Journalism Review. Last week, the New York Post first reported that PBS yanked ads from upcoming issues of Harper’s after an essay critical of the network ran in the magazine’s October issue. Today CJR reports that PBS confirmed it pulled an ad from this month’s issue, but the network declined comment on whether it yanked the other ads. “[T]o have done such a petty thing does make me suspicious,” MacArthur says. CJR’s David Uberti adds: “Pulling advertisements is an age-old tactic for businesses facing media criticism to seek retribution.
Public Radio International will launch a multimedia program focused on women’s empowerment with a grant of about $1.28 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Across Women’s Lives is a “journalism and engagement initiative” examining the connection between women’s empowerment and health and economic development. The program highlights personal stories of women in Africa and India and looks at women’s lives from infancy to old age. The project’s content will be featured on PRI’s global news program The World and online. Additional content includes short video documentaries and educational tools to help listeners learn more about the topics covered.
A 12-page essay titled “PBS Self-Destructs: And What It Means for Viewers Like You” in the October issue of Harper’s Magazine has prompted PBS to reply to the magazine and provide stations with talking points in anticipation of viewers’ responses. In the piece, writer Eugenia Williamson traces the history of the network with special attention to conservative interests that have buffeted PBS over the years. “[I]t doesn’t matter that the Republicans couldn’t defund PBS — they really didn’t need to. Twenty years on, the liberal bias they bemoaned has evaporated, if it ever existed to begin with,” Williamson writes. “Today, the only special-interest group the network clearly favors is the aging upper class: their tastes, their pet agendas, their centrist politics.
A joint effort among PBS and five member stations has created a more efficient way for stations to offer online streams of British imports such as Doctor Who and Death in Paradise while honoring BBC restrictions that limit web streaming. The BBC’s agreement for streaming programs besides Masterpiece limits access to viewers within a station’s market. But COVE, PBS’s online video platform, does not allow for filtering by location, which hampered stations’ ability to offer BBC content. Those restrictions made for an “unmanageable” situation, said John Decker, director of programming at KPBS in San Diego. But stations are now using a new web page created by PBS that allows for location-based filtering, and five stations have agreed to handle uploading of BBC content to ensure quality and prevent duplicative uploading.