First-ever Prize for Civility in Public Life goes to Brooks and Shields of “PBS NewsHour”

The inaugural Prize for Civility in Public Life, presented by Allegheny College, a small liberal arts school in Meadville, Pa., goes to PBS NewsHour political commentators David Brooks and Mark Shields. In a column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, college President James H. Mullen Jr. said the school is “launching a quest” to reverse the “rise of incivility in our democracy” with the award, presented today (Feb. 21) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.Jim Lehrer, PBS NewsHour executive editor, said in a statement, “Mark Shields and David Brooks deserve this and all other awards there are or ever will be for civility. They live it and practice it ways that are truly unique.””Incivility threatens the long-term health of our democracy,” Mullen writes in the Post-Gazette. “But the harsh truth is, we’re not doing anything serious to change it.

CPB-backed collaborators release Code of Editorial Integrity for pubmedia

The Editorial Integrity for Public Media Project has released its Code of Editorial Integrity for Local Public Media Organizations, a set of guidelines intended to serve as an ethical compass for TV and radio stations throughout the system. The Code stems from a joint effort of public TV’s Affinity Group Coalition, which began work on the guidelines two years ago, and public radio’s Station Resource Group, and it draws on guidance from a wide range of stakeholders in public media. “We think public media organizations will find much in the Code that affirms current work and makes us proud of the principles for which we stand,” wrote SRG’s Tom Thomas and Byron Knight, emeritus director of Wisconsin Public Broadcasting, in an email accompanying the release of the Code. “We know most of us will also find areas that we can address more closely.” Aspects of station activities that are covered by the guidelines include journalism, selection of programs, management, partnerships, and fundraising. Stations are encouraged to adopt the guidelines and promote their involvement on their websites.

“Frontline” takes home all four Writers Guild documentary/news awards

Frontline swept the documentary and news categories of the Writers Guild Awards Sunday (Feb. 19) in Los Angeles, winning all four honors. “Top Secret America,” written by Michael Kirk and Mike Wiser, claimed the documentary — current events award; “Wiki Secrets,” by Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, documentary — other than current events; “Educating Sergeant Pantzke,” by John Maggio and Martin Smith, news — regularly scheduled, bulletin or breaking report; and “Doctor Hotspot,” by Thomas Jennings, news — analysis, feature or commentary. The WGAs were presented in Los Angeles by the Writers Guild of America, West. Here’s a complete list of winners.

“Downton Abbey” shouldn’t “go on and on forever,” its creator says

Now that the second season of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classic has wrapped up, creator Julian Fellowes took time for a question-and-answer session with the New York Times in which he reveals a few of his fave American TV shows (Mad Man, Sex and the City, Glee) and addresses what all Downton fans are wondering: Just how long will the hit Edwardian costume drama keep going? “Sufficient unto the day,” Fellowes said, laughing. “I feel that one can’t really think much beyond that. Although I agree, I do not think it should just go on and on forever.”

Ira Glass, California Watch reporters win George Polk Awards

Ira Glass of This American Life is a recipient of a prestigious George Polk Award, announced today (Feb. 20) by Long Island University. Glass won for his reporting on “Very Tough Love,” an hour-long piece that showed “alarmingly severe” punishments by a county drug court judge in Georgia, LIU said in a press release. “Drug courts were set up to emphasize rehabilitation instead of incarceration, but Glass’ investigation revealed that Judge Amanda Williams strayed far from the principles and philosophy by routinely piling on jail sentences for relapses,”  it said. Williams ultimately stepped down from the bench.

“Freedom Riders” wins Eddie Award from ACE

The American Experience film Freedom Riders won for best edited documentary at the Eddie Awards presented by American Cinema Editors Saturday night (Feb. 18) in Los Angeles. Here’s a complete list of nominees, which also included Downton Abbey from Masterpiece Classic.

WUIS classical host retiring after 30 years

Karl Scroggin, classical music host at WUIS in Springfield, Ill., is retiring after a 30-year career that included, according to the State Journal-Register, assisting mezzo-soprano opera singer Marilyn Horne claim $600 in slot-machine winnings. Yes, you read that correctly. Years ago at an Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio conference in Las Vegas, Scroggin came across Horne at the Golden Nugget. “I said, ‘Marilyn, did you win some money?’ She said, ‘Yes, I won $600 on this slot machine. How do I cash it in?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll show you how to do it.’” After collecting the cash, Horne began waving it around and singing “The Gambler.”“I thought, ‘This is great,'” Scoggin recalls.

Chicago News Cooperative reportedly folding on Feb. 26

The Chicago News Cooperative will cease publishing content on Feb. 26, the Chicago Reader reports, due in part to a delay in a crucial MacArthur Foundation grant. The Internal Revenue Service has yet to decide if CNC and similar web news operations are 501(c)(3) nonprofits; CNC has been receiving funding via its fiscal agent, pubstation WTTW. But recently a MacArthur staff attorney advised the foundation that until the IRS ruled, MacArthur grants should go to specific programs instead of generally sustaining the co-op — that meant a different approval process and a longer wait for the money to arrive, the Reader notes. The CNC had been producing local pages twice weekly for the New York Times but the newspaper realized that CNC’s financial position was “precarious,” the Reader said, and on Thursday (Feb.

APTS pleased with spectrum legislation, but challenges loom

There’s good news for pubcasters in the legislation giving the FCC spectrum auction authority that passed this week in Congress — but many questions remain, and serious technical challenges lie ahead as spectrum is reallocated and repacked to provide more bandwidth for wireless devices. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.“Overall, we’re feeling pretty good about how it came out,” Lonna Thompson, c.o.o. of the Association of Public Television Stations, told Current. “We got nearly all of the precautions we wanted in the legislation to protect stations.” Original Senate legislation contained an estimate of $1 billion to repack the entire spectrum following an auction; APTS and other organizations were able to push that to $1.75 billion in the final bill. Also, the auction is officially voluntary, and no stations will be forced to move from UHF to VHF. Cable carriage rights for pubTV stations are safe.However, Thompson said, “some of the questions that stations still want answers to, such as what their spectrum is worth and the specific rules of the auctions, aren’t specified” in the bill, which will use auction proceeds to help pay for a payroll tax break and unemployment benefits, as well as support a public safety network for emergency responders.And from a technical standpoint, the repacking “is going to be very disruptive,” Thompson said.

Kerger: PBS looking at “some aspects” of reality programming

The Hollywood Reporter sat down with PBS President Paula Kerger for a wide-ranging interview posted Feb. 17. Highlights:On the potential for reality shows on PBS: “Colonial House and [2002’s] Frontier House are different types of reality. They’re experiential history programs. Moving forward, we’ll look at those types of things. To get younger people engaged in history, you have to really look closely at the formats.

Congress gives FCC go-ahead to conduct spectrum auctions

Congress today (Feb. 17) approved legislation providing the FCC with the ability to reclaim and auction broadcast spectrum to help pay for a payroll tax break and unemployment benefits, according to Broadcasting & Cable. The House passed the bill 293 to 132; the Senate, 60-36. House Communications Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said auctions will be voluntary and protect broadcasters and their viewers. “Bill language requires the FCC to make best efforts to protect the coverage areas and interference protections of the broadcasters who don’t give up spectrum,” B&C said.

Debate at Oregon Public Broadcasting still on, despite other cancellations

A Republican presidential debate on March 19 in Portland, to be produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and carried live on pubcasting stations, is still on, despite GOP hopefuls Mitt Romney and Ron Paul pulling out of a debate March 1 in Atlanta, the Oregonian is reporting. Another debate on March 5 on MSNBC also has been cancelled. Greg Leo, chief of staff of the Oregon Republican Party, cosponsoring the March 19 event with OPB, PBS, NPR and the Washington Times, said the Portland debate is attractive to the candidates for several reasons, including that it will be carried by public broadcasting and thus reach households that don’t have cable.

Queen Curley reigns over creative kingdom in NPT award nomination photo

Nashville Public Television was a finalist for a local Bowtie Award for Best Workplace Environment, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville announced this week. The honor recognizes “a business that integrates arts and creativity into the business culture to build morale and foster employee creativity and innovation.” The council said that NPT has “transformed its building into the NPT Arts Center — a modern day, nonprofit arts commune that houses NPT, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, TN Rep and Nashville Film Festival. The creative collaboration greatly enhances each organization, which benefits our entire community.” Also in the building is Book’em, a nonprofit children’s literacy organization, and NATAS (the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) Midsouth Chapter.Although NPT didn’t win, it sure had fun creating a photo (above) as part of the nomination process.

Former PBS station WDSC to become college Center of Interactive Media

The Daytona (Fla.) State College Board of Trustees on Thursday (Feb. 16) unanimously approved changing WDSC, its former PBS member station, into an educational Center of Interactive Media. Mike Vitale, senior vice president of academic affairs, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that administrators are reviewing existing contracts with the television station. Fourteen employees have already been notified that their jobs are ending and they may apply for positions at the new station or elsewhere at the college. Locally produced live shows in the studio “will probably not continue,” Vitale said.

Oklahoma bill to kill pubcasting funding withdrawn

A bill that would have ended funding to public broadcasting in Oklahoma failed to make it out of a House subcommittee and was withdrawn Thursday (Feb. 16), reports the Oklahoman. Republican Rep. Leslie Osborn said she has no plans to reintroduce the legislation this session. The bill would have reduced the roughly $4 million support by 20 percent annually over five years.

No blatant self-inflation on this premise, please

Randy Cohen, an Emmy-winning comedy writer and past author of “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times Magazine, starts a monthly public radio series today that invites famous people to talk about something other than themselves. Amazingly, people have been willing to come on the show anyway. Person Place Thing — those are the other topics that Cohen will let guests discuss ­— debuts with a famed interviewer as guest, TV talker Dick Cavett, devoting his attention to a phenomenal thing called Bob Hope. The second guest in the hourlong show is novelist Jane Smiley. Ian Pickus of Northeast Public Radio (WAMC) in Albany produces the show, and the New York Council for the Humanities pays for production of the first season.

There’s good and bad news in indie online journalism, J-Lab reports

J-Lab, which advocates for new approaches to journalism, has posted an update on independent online news efforts. “We’re entering a period where the pendulum is swinging sharply both ways ­— delivering shakeouts as some sites go belly up and expansion as other sites open satellite operations in the indy news space,” it says.

The Moth, and Center for Investigative Reporting, win MacArthur grants

Two public media entities are recipients of MacArthur Foundation Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions, announced today (Feb. 16). The Center for Investigative Reporting at University of California, Berkeley, will use its $1 million award to “create a venture fund for new projects, strengthen its fundraising capacity, upgrade its technology infrastructure, and establish a reserve fund for legal defense.” And the Moth, the nonprofit behind the storytelling Moth Radio Hour, will spend its $750,000 to “expand its radio program into a regular, weekly Radio Hour, create a radio archive to distribute past content, and create a cash reserve to support better planning and organizational stability.” The show came to public radio via a five-episode pilot series from PRX nearly three years ago (Current, Sept.

First tablet launch for NPR Music? The iPad, of course!

The latest app from NPR’s digital team brings NPR Music to Apple’s iPad, and it’s now available for free download from the iTunes App Store. Designers created “a true multimedia music magazine,” NPR said in a news release, merging original NPR Music content such Tiny Desk Concert performances with its own 24/7 music stream and the live streams of public radio stations. “I think it shows off the flood of amazing stories about music that makes its way to our site from our member stations and our staff,” writes Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered host, in a blog post unveiling the site.To introduce more iPad users to the NPR Music experience, NPR will produce an exclusive in-app concert on March 7 with The Shins, a Portland-based indie-rock band that’s about to release its first album in five years, Port of Morrow.When Apple first launched the iPad in 2010, NPR was among the top news organizations to create a killer app for the new device.

Michigan city official can’t sell LPFM license on eBay

A city official in Benton Harbor, Mich., has abandoned his efforts to sell the license to the city’s low-power FM radio station on eBay after observers pointed out that FCC approval would be needed. Joseph Harris has shut down the station and tried to sell the license for $5,000, but pulled it off eBay after getting three bids, reports Laura Conaway on the blog for MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Harris shut down the station in January to save money, according to the local ABC 57 News, and city commissioners are protesting the move to sell WBHC-LP’s license and equipment. Public Radio Capital, the nonprofit consultancy that works to expand public media, is working to find local nonprofits that would be interested in acquiring the license and continuing the service.