Not our petitions, NPR says

NPR released a statement today (July 30) to Poynter Institute blogger Jim Romenesko, that it is “not involved in any way” with petitions circulating online that ask the White House Correspondents Association to give now-retired longtime reporter Helen Thomas’s front-row seat in the White House briefing room to the network. Petitions have been put forward by CREDO Action, a progressive advocacy site; it already has 254,218 signatures to give the chair to NPR rather than FOX News. Another progressive online group,, is also getting involved. “NPR was not consulted about either petition and we learned about them via Facebook and e-mail. We have no position on the petitions, and no comment on the other media organizations that are competing for the seat,” the statement said.

Dish Network finally inks pubcasting deal, just not with APTS

After the Association of Public Television Stations spent several years trying to get the satellite provider Dish Network to sign a carriage deal for HD noncoms, Dish finally has done so. But not with APTS. Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that Dish has struck an independent HD carriage agreement with at least 30 “geographically diverse” pubcasting stations.

Pittston, Pa., pubradio nearing return to the airwaves

WVIA-FM 89.9 in Pittston, Pa., will return to the air Aug. 3 after a $2 million fire five months ago completely destroyed its transmission facilities, the station said in a statement today (July 29). The fire began while electricians who were working on the building on Penobscot Mountain accidentally set the ceiling ablaze. Many listeners have been affected, the statement says, “from difficulty with a signal that is spotty and barely satisfactory, to the complete absence of WVIA-FM in several areas that once received it.” The station has been operating out of a trailer next to the site.

International Sesame Streets now on demand through Amazon

For the first time, fans can watch individual episodes of Sesame Street’s international productions via Amazon Video On Demand. Included are co-productions from Bangladesh, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Palestine, Russia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, India and Egypt, the Sesame Workshop said in a statement July 29. (Image: Sesame Workshop)

MHz develops social networking/learning site for the digital media industry

Indie pubcasting network MHz is partnering with IDMAonline on a new website that offers a “social learning network specifically for the digital media industry,” the two announced in a statement Monday (July 26). Site members have access to the Commons, to meet with colleagues and ask and answer questions. What makes the site unique, the two said in the statement, is the “live online” professional training in the digital media arts: multimedia, filmmaking, animation and photography. There are full certificate programs and mentorship initiatives where students can focus on a specific topic. MHz Worldview, MHz Networks’ flagship channel, brings international programs to audiences though cable, satellite and online affiliates.

Lehrer came into Emanuel interview with “pre-conceived notions”: CPB ombudsman

CPB Ombudsman Ken Bode faults PBS NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer for “an opportunity lost and a lesson in what can happen when an interview is constructed on the basis of pre-conceived notions.” In Bode’s latest report, he’s reacting to a viewer’s complaints that Lehrer “has increasingly lost his impartiality,” particularly in an interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “It seemed designed to build a narrative that President Obama has slow political reflexes and is disengaged from key decisions of his administration,” Bode said of the July 7 interview. “Mr. Emanuel convinced this viewer otherwise.”

KCET lays off 13

At an all-station meeting in Los Angeles Tuesday (July 27), KCET staffers were told that 13 employees are being laid off. Cuts come from across several departments, and at least one vice president is affected. In June 2009, KCET cut 12 full-time and part-time staffers and announced furloughs and pay cuts. The station also dropped its 45-year-old program guide that month, citing financial reasons.

LJCs launch in Upper Midwest, Florida

Two of the local journalism centers backed by CPB in April are up and running. “Changing Gears,” helmed by New York Times veteran Micheline “Micki” Maynard, has launched its website and a blog pointing readers to coverage from the three partner stations, Chicago’s WBEZ, Michigan Radio, and Cleveland’s ideastream., a collaboration of five public stations in central Florida, has hired Jennifer Molina to lead its editorial team. Launch plans for additional LJCs are still pending; Fronteras, the largest collaboration to be announced so far, is recruiting a social media editor for its project covering immigration and border issues in the Southwest.