Pittsburgh’s all-news startup gets an assist from CPB

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CPB is backing development of Essential Public Media, the nonprofit whose purchase of Pittsburgh’s WDUQ is pending before the FCC. At the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference July 14, CPB President Patricia Harrison announced a $250,000 grant to help Essential establish its digital journalism newsroom. “We are confident this will be a model for public media news operations across the country,” she said.

Essential began managing day-to-day operations of WDUQ July 1, adopting an all-news format and reducing jazz programming to a six-hour weekend slot on its FM channel while it plays its syndicated service JazzWorks full-time on the Web and on an HD Radio digital multicast channel.

The station’s editorial team has begun exploring possible editorial collaborations with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PublicSource, an investigative-news startup that launched with foundation backing this spring, according to Lee Ferraro, manager of Pittsburgh’s WYEP, a partner in the repurposed WDUQ.

“This is support to launch a newsroom from scratch in the digital world,” Bruce Theriault, senior v.p. of radio, told Current. He anticipates that Essential’s journalists will innovate with social media and develop partnerships with digital-news organizations.

During the CPB-hosted PMDMC luncheon, Harrison also announced CPB’s continuing commitment to the seven Local Journalism Centers launched through collaborations of public radio and TV stations on two-year startup grants. LJC stations have begun discussing scenarios for operating the centers when CPB’s aid expires (Current, July 11). “Make no mistake about it — we are committed to the LJCs over the long term,” she said.

CPB recently issued a request for proposals for analysis of the LJCs’ performance.

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