People magazine puts Dinosaur Train, the new PBS show from the Jim Henson Co., on its “Year’s Best Kids Shows” list, according to the Muncie, Ind., Star Press. Also included: Jungle Junction from Disney, The Superhero Squad Show on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band and Cartoon Network’s The Garfield Show. (Garfield creator Jim Davis’s company, Paws Inc., is based in rural Albany, Ind., hence the announcement via the Star Press.)
Keith Woods, a Poynter Institute dean who was consulting with NPR on newsroom diversity, will join the network as vice president, diversity in news and operations, in February. The position, a newly created senior management role, will lead development and implementation of strategies for diversity within NPR and public radio as a whole. Newsroom diversity–as well as NPR’s commitment to training, hiring and retaining journalists of color–have come under criticism this year as NPR laid off staff, canceled its African-American oriented show News and Notes, and fired one of its few black newsroom managers. “We are extremely fortunate to have found a leader who offers a combination of strong journalistic credentials, diversity expertise and a passion for teaching,” said NPR President Vivian Schiller, in a news release. Woods has taught writing and reporting on race relations, ethics and diversity at the Poynter Institute for professional journalists for 15 years; he also writes on race and media and consults with news organizations and journalism schools.
Many of the most popular websites for kids contain advertisements for junk food, reports Reuters on a study in the latest American Journal of Public Health. One of the websites examined was PBSKids.org, which averages 9 million unique visitors per month. Lesli Rotenberg, s.v.p. of children’s media at PBS, noted that the site’s appearance in the study is “misleading,” as it does not accept advertising nor market food products to children. The site carries logos of PBS sponsors at the bottom of some pages, including McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A. Children never see images of food products, she said, adding that the Fizzy’s Lunch Lab and Don’t Buy It pages actually teach kids about healthy eating — and how to avoid media influences in their purchase decisions.
A documentary on North Carolina is “caught in a hissing contest” between pubTV stations UNC-TV and WTVI, reports the News & Observer in Raleigh. Mike Lassiter, an attorney in Statesville, and videographer Scott Galloway captured businesses throughout the state and the people behind them in their film, Vanishing Americana. But it probably will only be seen in 13 of the state’s 100 counties, on WTVI alone. Statewide pubcaster UNC-TV refuses to show the film. “It’s a bit of an overstatement to call it a policy, but it’s a general rule that we don’t broadcast things originating from WTVI,” said UNC-TV spokesperson Steve Volstad.
PBS’s Masterpiece received three Golden Globe nominations. Nominees for the prestigious Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s honors were announced this morning. Nods went to Little Dorrit for best miniseries or motion picture made for television, and Kenneth Branaugh in Wallander (above) and Chiwetel Ejiofor for Endgame both in the category of best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television. The awards will be presented Jan. 17.
Did you catch much-loved, uber-enthusiastic California pubcaster Huell Howser on The Simpsons Sunday? Who’s he? As the LAist blog says, “While we can’t say that no one outside of California knows who Howser is, it’s likely the cameo will only tickle locals who have seen Howser marvel over all manner of landmark, machine, or quirky Californian on his various PBS shows,” seen six nights a week on KCET as well as various other broadcasts on pubTV stations in Oregon, Nevada and Tennessee (he’s a Tennessee native). Also included in the blog item is a link to another, ahem, very quirky Howser tribute video, “Trippin’ with Huell Howser.” Heh.
Delaware city officials threaten to oppose WHYY license renewalWork cut out for a Public Media CorpsBack to the Future: Ramp up public TV local news, PM Magazine-styleBig regional Emmy wins for pubcasters in Salt Lake and Dallas
David Pogue, who’s hosting a four-part Nova for fall 2010 on materials science (working title: Stuff), has a cool Flickr set of his weekend adventures on a Navy aircraft carrier. (Don’t miss shots of the production team.) This segment will be on steel. The production team is also blogging its behind-the-scenes work at Inside Nova. That blog has been a “big hit,” says Nova spokeswoman Carole McFall. “I think people really enjoy hearing about what’s in the pipeline directly from our researchers and production teams.”
Wondering what the heck a PublicMediaCamp is? The next National Center for Media Engagement can help out with that. Its next Peer Webinar, at 2 p.m. Eastern this Wednesday, is “PubCamp 101.” Presenting will be Jonathan Coffman, PBS’s product manager, social media; and Peter Corbett, an event expert and CEO of iStrategyLabs. They’ll cover the history of PubCamps, why PBS and NPR are involved, and how to create a local PubCamp.
PBS has 15 Writers Guild of America nods — more than any other broadcast or cable TV channel — for outstanding achievement during the 2009 season. Frontline took all six nominations in the documentary and current events category. In the documentary other than current events category, all six slots also went to pubcasting, five for American Experience and one for National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Bill Moyers Journal scored two nominations in news analysis feature or commentary, and Sesame Street also took two spots in children’s episodic and specials. The nominations are from both the Writers Guild of America, West, and Writers Guild of America, East.
Boston’s public radio landscape shifted Dec. 1 when WGBH moved all of its classical music programming to WCRB 99.5 FM and adopted a news/talk-dominated format for WGBH 89.7. The change, made possible by WGBH’s $14 million purchase of the commercial classical station from Nassau Broadcasting Partners, marks a strategic redirection for the Boston pubcaster that’s known throughout the world as the top producer of television programming for PBS. Its radio service, with a 100,000-watt signal extending far beyond Boston, had tried for decades to satisfy both music lovers and NPR news audiences. Like pubradio licensees in other major cities, WGBH now looks to super-serve both sets of listeners and attract new ones with two distinct formats.
Modeled on programs like Americorps and Teach for America, the Public Media Corps will hire local residents as “fellows” for yearlong residencies at public broadcasting institutions. Their job there will be to identify local issues and use multiple media platforms to spark vigorous community engagement on the issues.
Those calling for more local news from public media — and those experimenting with new ways to provide it — should examine a business model devised for commercial television more than 30 years ago. PM Magazine was an evening primetime news and entertainment show …
PBS is raising tent-poles to reinvigorate its primetime lineup. Over the next one to three years, it will shrink down a number of as-yet-unidentified series to high-profile special events, then use the freed-up production money and schedule space to nurture new shows it hopes will mature into icons.
Looking to lift up your midday radio audience? Try some uplifting music. That’s a lesson from 10 classical radio stations that have been jiggering their midday playlists with help from a listening study backed by CPB and conducted by the Public Radio Program Directors Association. Eight of the 10 stations saw their midday audiences grow after changing their mixes of music — some grew quite significantly — and the two that lost audience suffered only very small declines. The study began in 2007 when researchers hired by PRPD played 150 half-minute samples of classical pieces for test audiences in four cities.
Interestingly, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler didn’t receive any comments from viewers on the revamped PBS NewsHour, he reports in his latest column (well, one that was “not for posting”). Getler, who calls himself “a devoted watcher” of the program, writes of its latest incarnation: “I, personally, found the first few days of the new format and approach to be a distinct improvement. The program seemed to have more zip and energy, faster paced, with good interviews and without the always predictable language that introduced the show in the past.” The new version, with its online anchor Hari Sreenivasan, kicked off Dec. 7.
Penn State Public Broadcasting has created an interesting web site filled with documentaries by student war veterans, “Back from Iraq: The Veterans’ Story Project.” Eight students completed a special class for them last semester, “Narrative, Oral History, New Media Technologies,” at Penn State University’s main campus that taught the vets documentary filmmaking. They chronicled their experiences in their docs. Among the vets is a Marine machine gunner, a surface warfare fire controlman and an intelligence officer. Support for the project was provided by CPB.