At APTS summit, public TV remembers which way ‘up’ is

“What a difference a year makes,” Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, told the crowd at the group’s Public Media Summit on Feb. 27 in Arlington, Va. Last year at this time, the House of Representatives had just voted to eliminate all federal funding for public broadcasting. Since then pubcasters have notched several victories, including protecting the fiscal 2011 appropriation for CPB to $445 million. In recognition of Butler’s performance during his first year, the APTS Board of Trustees gave him an extended standing ovation.

“The Interrupters” most popular doc of 2011 with awards, festivals, critics

The Interrupters topped the P.O.V. blog’s exhaustive list of the best documentaries of the past year, based on lists from critical acclaim, documentary festivals, industry organizations and online voting. The Kartemquin Films production, which  recently ran on Frontline, tells the stories of three individuals in Chicago who literally interrupt situations on the streets that are brewing into violent confrontations. Don’t miss the blog’s cool graphic tracking dozens of films.

AOL and PBS partner to launch “Makers: Women Who Make America” online

AOL and PBS today launched the multiplatform project “Makers: Women Who Make America” to showcase “hundreds of compelling stories from women of today and tomorrow,” as the site says. Tim Armstrong, AOL c.e.o., told Bloomberg News, “Women’s content is a major strategic focus for us.””Makers” filmmaker Dyllan McGee called the online-first approach “the future of documentaries.” The 59 interviews on the site so far include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tennis great Billy Jean King, newswoman Barbara Walters, entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In 2013, PBS will premiere a related three-hour documentary telling the story of the women’s movement over the last 50 years. WETA in Arlington, Va., will develop national outreach.

Butler of APTS reflects on year’s successes, but notes more work ahead

“What a difference a year makes,” Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, told the crowd at the group’s Public Media Summit on Monday (Feb. 27) in Arlington, Va. Last year at this time, Butler notes, the House of Representatives had just voted to eliminate all federal funding for public broadcasting. But since then pubcasters have notched several victories, including resurrecting the fiscal 2011 appropriation for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from zero to $445 million.”Washington wisdom has it that we are likely to bump along this year with a series of stop-gap funding measures through the election; and that the mother of all lame-duck Congresses will come back after the elections to deal with a host of pressing tax and spending issues,” Butler said. “Uncertain as these prospects may be, we can take great confidence in the fact that we have earned the support of some of the most powerful Republicans and Democrats in this city.

Native applicant loses permit to start new radio station

The FCC has denied the request of a Native American college in New Mexico for more time to build a new noncommercial FM station. (PDF of decision.) Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M., had run into a number of setbacks as it worked toward getting its new station on the air. To start with, the school blew past its FCC-imposed deadline for starting the station due to a misunderstanding. It then revealed to the FCC that it couldn’t build the station at the location it had initially proposed because the solar-powered facility at the site would produce too little power. NTC blamed this error on a consultant who has since been fired.

Cohesion: It helps when collaborators want the same things

There’s a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots among public stations. Their abilities to expand services and revenues are diverging. And if they were to collaborate on fundraising, they’d want different results from it. That was the scene as described by 20 execs and consultants in the Public Media Futures forum held Feb. 16 in Washington, D.C., by the communication schools of the University of Southern California and American University in cooperation with Current.

Ramsey on diaries vs. PPM, from the ad buyer’s POV

On his blog, media strategist Mark Ramsey argues that the old Arbitron diaries were better at showing which stations a listener actually values and engages with, as opposed to PPM, which doesn’t depend on a listener’s impressions to record and deliver data. Check out his video. If Ramsey is right, what are the implications for public radio? Are stations that have abandoned diaries missing out on valuable information, and, if so, how to recover it?

Alex Chadwick: Recharged to cover an energetic beat

Alex Chadwick was lost. It took a journey to an unlikely place — the whitewater rapids of a Utah canyon — for him to find his way back to radio. In 2008, Chadwick found himself absent from the airwaves for the first time in decades. He had stepped down as host of the NPR show Day to Day to return to reporting, only to be laid off a month later, an unceremonious end to 31 years at the network. He then devoted himself to caring for his wife and partner in broadcasting, Carolyn Jensen Chadwick, who was battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells.

Adapting Daisey’s staged monologue for radio: less shouting, more intimacy

Update: On March 16, This American Life retracted “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” its Jan. 6 broadcast that adapted monologist Mike Daisey’s story about working conditions in Chinese gadget factories. Read more. Crunching a two-hour stage monologue into a 39-minute radio piece was a huge challenge for Ira Glass, e.p. and host of This American Life. Glass decided to adapt The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs after seeing monologist Mike Daisey perform the show that skewers Apple and Jobs for the harsh working conditions in factories where adored Apple products are assembled.

Ira Glass

Glass & Co.: Emboldened to tell hard-news stories

Update: On March 16, This American Life retracted “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” its Jan. 6 broadcast that adapted monologist Mike Daisey’s story about working conditions in Chinese gadget factories. Read more. For 16 years, public radio host Ira Glass has charmed listeners with offbeat, quirky stories that captivated minds and won awards. Lately, he’s also been kicking butt, taking names and making a difference. It’s not quite that aggressive.

NPR promotes Wilson to chief content officer, Arnold departs PRI, and more…

NPR President Gary Knell has restructured the news organization’s top ranks, elevating digital chief Kinsey Wilson to executive v.p. and chief content officer and appointing Margaret Low Smith senior v.p. of news, a job she took on an interim basis last year. When Wilson joined NPR as senior v.p. and general manager of digital media in 2008, the position was parallel to the senior news exec post then held by Ellen Weiss. Knell’s restructuring elevates Wilson in NPR’s organization chart to supervise all of NPR’s content areas — news, programming and digital media. “In Kinsey and Margaret, we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR — and how we continue to innovate and evolve,” Knell said in a news release. The new structure allows for greater coordination of NPR’s news, digital and programming strategies, and a “more seamless integration” of its news operations, according to the release.

APMG’s Florida classical station grows west with new FM

Miami-based Classical South Florida, an affiliate of American Public Media Group, is expanding its service to the state’s western coast with the $4.35 million purchase of WAYJ-FM, a 75,000-watt station that broadcasts to a potential audience of nearly 1 million listeners in Fort Myers and beyond. The purchase, announced Feb. 14, is part of a three-way transaction with seller WAY Media, a religious broadcasting network that’s moving its Christian pop music service and its call letters to 89.5 MHz in Naples, a 100,000-watt station, formerly WSRX-FM. Though the Naples station broadcasts at a higher effective radiated power (ERP), Classical South Florida’s new station has the better signal, with a higher antenna and larger potential audience. It covers a population of 991,520, compared with 340,913, according to Tom Kigin, executive v.p. for Minnesota-based APMG.

NETA partners with Coke bottler for station health insurance

After several years of work, the National Educational Telecommunications Association announced Feb. 23 that it is offering group health-insurance coverage plans to pubcasters. So far, 70 TV and radio licensees representing nearly 2,900 individuals are participating in the initiative. NETA is partnering with the Coca-Cola Bottlers Association to provide the coverage through that company’s Alliance of Professional Service Organizations (APSO) subsidiary. APSO currently serves nearly 300 employers, including the majority of the soft-drink bottlers and more than 200 other organizations, covering nearly 25,000 individuals.

Obama would keep CPB at $445 mil, end aid to rural pubTV

President Barack Obama released his fiscal 2013 budget Feb. 13, which, as expected, contains $445 million in advance funding for CPB in fiscal year 2015. CPB has some chance of remaining at that level for four straight years. Congress appropriated $445 million for fiscal 2012 and 2013 as well, but those amounts are vulnerable to rescission, depending on the political winds. For fiscal 2014, the Democratic-controlled Senate would repeat the same allotment while the Republican-controlled House would reduce it to zero.

Hawaii, Detroit stations win EDGE Awards; Stevens gets advocacy honor from APTS

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Association of Public Television Stations today (Feb. 27) presented two EDGE Awards (Excellence in Digital Transition, Groundbreaking Partnerships and Educational Technologies), and its David J. Brugger Grassroots Advocacy Award, named for its former president and c.e.o., at the APTS Public Media Summit here.EDGE winners are Detroit Public Television for its Great Lakes Now coverage (Current, Oct. 17, 2011), and PBS Hawaii for Hiki Nō (“Can do”), its news production project with dozens of the state’s schools. The Brugger Award went to Catherine Ann Stevens, a former longtime WETA Board member and wife of the late pubcasting champion Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).In Detroit, for the first time, six major entities focused on issues concerning the Great Lakes — the International Joint Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Areas of Concern Program, the Great Lakes Commission, The Healing Our Waters/Great Lakes Coalition and Environment Canada — hosted events in the same city during the same week.

Rosen gives thumbs-up to NPR’s new ethics handbook

Media critic Jay Rosen takes a look at NPR’s new ethics handbook, released last week, and likes what he sees, particularly the handbook’s guidance regarding balance and fairness in reporting. “At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources,” the guide says. “So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth.” “With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of ‘he said, she said’ journalism,” Rosen writes on his PressThink blog. “It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being ‘fair to the truth,’ which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.” Rosen’s post also includes a brief Q&A with Matt Thompson, an editorial product manager at NPR, who co-wrote the new handbook.

Pubradio manager and advocate Tim Emmons dies; was a co-founder of MEGS

Northern Public Radio General Manager Tim Emmons, a passionate pubradio advocate and mentor, and a driving force behind the Morning Edition Grad School, died Feb. 18 at home after a long battle with cancer. He was 53. He headed the five stations in DeKalb, Ill., for 15 years. The NPR Board observed a moment of silence for Emmons at its Feb.

Policy delay of nonprofit status spikes Chicago News Cooperative

Rumors started quickly, trying to explain why the Chicago News Cooperative was closing. The Internal Revenue Service had rejected the co-op’s application for nonprofit status. Then it was said that the MacArthur Foundation had refused to fund the startup out of fear it might take down City Hall friends. The truth was more prosaic. Several events — its tax status, its inability to lasso a deep-pocket donor and the demands of its publishing partner the New York Times — moved the news co-op to suspend operations Feb.

New NPR ethics code discourages outside contracts

NPR journalists must seek management approval to sign work contracts with other media outlets, and most such requests will not be granted, according to a comprehensive revision of the network’s ethics guidelines approved unanimously by the network’s board Feb. 24. The board reaffirmed the network’s desire to regulate moonlighting such as the ongoing appearances of former NPR news analyst Juan Williams on Fox News — a gig that led to his firing in 2010 and an extended hullaballoo exploited by Fox and Republican partisans. Publication of the NPR Ethics Handbook concluded a 15-month process that the Board initiated after Williams’s dismissal. The guidelines specify that a news employee must get written permission “for all outside freelance and journalistic work,” a continuation of NPR’s previous policies.