• The standoff at Pacifica's headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., got coverage on a local news program on Oakland's KTVU. Executive Director Summer Reese is defying the board's efforts to dismiss her and has camped out at the office, with supporters and even her mother in tow. Watch KTVU's video and see the barricaded door, an air mattress used by the holed-up staff, and more trappings of this unusual episode. The report also features Pacifica Board Chair Margy Wilkinson, who is trying to fire Reese. Wilkinson alleges that at some point employees were shredding documents, which Reese denies in an oddly clipped statement in the segment.
• WNYC/New York Public Radio is receiving the largest grant ever given to a public radio station, it announced today. The pubcaster will use the $10 million from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation for digital innovation and to support its Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, keeping ticket prices low for events there. Also today, the station introduced a new Discover feature to its WNYC app, allowing listeners to create and download curated playlists with a function that "blends personal preferences with an element of surprise," it said in the announcement. • POV's new online documentary collaboration with the New York Times kicked off over the weekend with an in-depth look at a group of developmentally challenged men who survived decades of neglect in a small Iowa town. The Men of Atalissa, produced by the Times, was posted on both websites March 8.
Public TV was less visible at this year's American Film Institute documentary festival. Yet several of the 10 films that had received financial support from public TV grant-makers or broadcast commitments from PBS stood out among the 53 documentaries in the lineup. One even took the top prize.
The National Endowment of the Arts announced $4.68 million in funding to 76 media-arts projects April 23, including new grantees such as the Online Video Engagement Experience (OVEE) developed with CPB funding, a new initiative from the Association of Independents in Radio called Spectrum America and Sonic Trace, a multimedia production at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., that was created through AIR’s recently concluded Localore project. For a second year, the NEA will continue to support projects that use digital technologies to go beyond traditional broadcasting platforms. In its announcement, the endowment highlighted a $100,000 grant to OVEE, a digital platform that allows web users to interact while watching PBS and local station content. The Independent Television Service developed the technology with support from CPB. AIR also received $100,000 for Spectrum America, a project that will pair media artists with public stations as they experiment with “new approaches to storytelling.”
Sonic Trace, a co-production at KCRW initiated through AIR’s 2012–2013 Localore initiative, received a direct NEA grant of $75,000 to continue exploring the experience of Latino immigrants. NEA also backed digital media projects at NPR, providing $100,000 for music programming and multimedia content.
After a season of bad press following PBS's much-maligned 2012 decision to move its flagship independent documentary program POV from Tuesday nights to Thursdays, the show will move to Mondays for its 26th season, which premieres June 24. POV announced the lineup for its new season today. The program is also building off another recent round of good news: a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation on Feb. 28. Its premiere episode will be Homegoings, a documentary about Harlem undertakers that was selected as part of the New York Museum of Modern Art's 2013 Documentary Fortnight. The lineup, with 15 national broadcast premieres and two encore presentations, will also include the Oscar-nominated Palestinian film 5 Broken Cameras on Aug.
The 90-minute feature was produced and directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, a married couple who traced the education of two African-American boys — their own son and his best friend — at a private school in Manhattan from 1999 through 2012. “All American families want to give their children the opportunity to succeed. But the truth is, opportunity is just the first step, particularly for families raising black boys,” said Stephenson. “We hope American Promise shines a light on these issues.”
The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 21 and received the award Jan.
American Documentary, home to PBS’s independent film showcase POV, and StoryCorps, the oral history project heard on NPR, are each receiving $1 million from the MacArthur Foundation’s latest round of Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions. The grants, awarded to 13 recipients in five countries, help ensure the long-term sustainability of each organization, according to the foundation. “The award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future,” the Chicago-based foundation said in the Feb. 28 announcement. “Organizations will use this support to build cash reserves and endowments, develop strategic plans and upgrade technology and physical infrastructure.”
Organizations do not apply for the awards; rather, MacArthur nominates and selects them.