A recent Nova documentary about unmanned aerial drones sparked a flurry of complaints from viewers upset by what the program’s producers didn’t say about development of the technology for military and other purposes: that Lockheed Martin, series underwriter and one of the country’s largest military contractors, is a developer of drone technology.
“Looks like we have a ways to go in local public radio and television. Like the rest of the media, women are underrepresented in our newsrooms,” writes Michael Marcotte, longtime pubcasting analyst and the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in the Ethics of Entrepreneurial and Innovative Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. In a blog post, Marcotte takes a deep dive into a February study, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2013, by the Women’s Media Center, an advocacy and press monitoring organization based in New York City. Reports filed by public stations to CPB reveal the gender composition of the local pubmedia news workforce in positions including executives, editors, producers and senior producers, managing editors, news directors and hosts. For years, CPB has gathered general staffing information from stations, but in 2010 it began asking for much more granular data about station journalists, Marcotte notes.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, MHz Networks launched the Today’s Ireland channel in the Washington, D.C., market on March 17, with select programming running nationwide on its Worldview service, it announced March 15. Content comes from Irish broadcasters RTÉ, TV3, TG4, and Northern Vision Television, and features independent productions from Northern Ireland and regional specialty programming. It kicks off with six hours of daily programming beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern, and will grow to a 24-hour channel by the end of the year. Select programs from Today’s Ireland will be showcased on MHz’s national channel, MHz Worldview, available in 38 million American households nationwide, mainly through public broadcasters.
Audiences for public radio and television news continue to spend less time with legacy broadcast platforms as they transition to digital listening and viewing, according to the State of the News Media study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, released today. The 10th annual report examines all broadcast, digital and print media. NPR’s average weekly broadcast audience fell 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, dipping to 26 million from 26.8 million, according to the report. The weekly number of listeners to American Public Media programs also shrank 2 percent, to 15.2 million. (The report did not detail specific numbers for another major pubradio distributor, Public Radio International.)
On television, the broadcast audience for PBS NewsHour, public TV’s weeknight program, dropped 8.4 percent over the last season to an average of 977,000 nightly viewers — its lowest number since 2008
But both outlets saw lots of action in the digital realm.
The 90-minute feature was produced and directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, a married couple who traced the education of two African-American boys — their own son and his best friend — at a private school in Manhattan from 1999 through 2012. “All American families want to give their children the opportunity to succeed. But the truth is, opportunity is just the first step, particularly for families raising black boys,” said Stephenson. “We hope American Promise shines a light on these issues.”
The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 21 and received the award Jan.
Two Los Angeles–area public TV stations won Golden Mikes. KCET won three awards in Division A (for stations with 50 or more full-time news staff members): topping the category of news/public affairs program and investigative reporting with SoCal Connected. It also won for entertainment reporting. PBS Southern Cal (KOCE-TV) won for best documentary in Division B (comprised of TV stations with 49 or fewer full-time news staff) for Be Brave: Samantha’s Story and for best news public affairs program. In the radio contest, KPCC/Southern California Public Radio won 10 Golden Mikes in Division A (stations with six or more full-time news staff members): individual writing, sports reporting, live coverage of a news story, news public affairs program, news reporting, serious feature reporting, light feature reporting, news special, entertainment reporting and use of sound.
This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. PBS is ending production of Market Warriors, the much-anticipated series that premiered in July 2012 as a partner program to longtime ratings hit Antiques Roadshow, according to a March 14 WGBH internal memo to employees. Marsha Bemko, executive producer of both programs, today told Current the decision was PBS’s and declined further comment. The demise of the series triggered several layoffs. The memo said that Field Producer Rebecca Donahue and Editors Peter Hyzak and Sean Sandefur left WGBH the week of March 4, while Senior Producer John Kalish, Associate Producer Joey Toppan, Production Assistant Rebecca Taylor and Assistant Editor Jim Fetela departed on Friday.
The Writers Guild of America, West’s prize in the children’s–episodic and specials category went to Christine Ferraro for writing Sesame Street’s “The Good Sport.” Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria won the award in the documentary–current events arena for writing the first episode of the Frontline four-part series “Money, Power and Wall Street.” And in the documentary–other than current events category, Randall MacLowry won the award for writing “The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time” for Nova. Founded in 1933, WGAW is a labor union representing writers of movies, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. The awards were presented Feb. 17 in Los Angeles.
NPR will test a system for delivering emergency alerts to individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in Gulf Coast states under a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The project marks the first attempt to deliver real-time emergency messages such as weather alerts via radio-broadcast text to those with hearing disabilities. Through the Public Radio Satellite System, NPR will relay emergency alert messages received from FEMA via the Radio Broadcast Data System to public radio stations in the Gulf region. The stations will broadcast the alerts to receivers that are able to display text messages. Volunteers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will be alerted to the warnings by flashing indicators on their radios or by a bed-shaking device that can be triggered by radios.
Public television’s strongest case for preserving tax-based support for stations and CPB centers on informing political leaders about the full range of public-service work that stations deliver to local communities, particularly in the field of education, according to the field’s lead advocates in Washington, D.C.
The Polk Award for documentary television reporting was presented to Frontline correspondent Martin Smith and producer Michael Kirk for the four-part investigative series “Money, Power and Wall Street,” with producers Marcela Gaviria, Mike Wiser and Jim Gilmore cited for their assistance. The documentary “provided a thorough examination of the epic global financial crisis, from its origins to the present day,” said the judges. “The series also dissected and distilled down the complicated subject of the modern credit derivative market and provided a sober look inside the struggle to rescue and repair this country’s battered economy.”
The Polk Award for state reporting went to California Watch’s Ryan Gabrielson for “Broken Shield,” a series that exposed the California’s Office of Protective Services’ poor job of curbing abuse at state clinics. According to the judges, “Gabrielson detailed how investigators were slow to begin investigations, failed to collect evidence and ignored key witnesses — leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes inflicted upon some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.”
The George Polk Awards, presented annually by Long Island University, memorialize a CBS correspondent killed while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948. This year’s awards were presented April 11 in New York by Christiane Amanpour of CNN and journalist Carl Bernstein.
After automatic spending cuts required under the Budget Control Act of 2011 took effect March 1, CPB received confirmation that its 2013 appropriation was trimmed to $421.4 million, a 5 percent reduction in the original amount, $445 million. CPB, which had anticipated deeper cuts, revised its budget for the fiscal year, and notified stations of the changes in a March 4 memo. Local stations’ Community Service Grants will be slightly higher than those calculated last fall. “Reflecting our continued concern about the potential for additional budget actions in FY 2013,” CPB President Pat Harrison told station execs, CPB will base this fiscal year’s second Community Service Grant payments on an appropriation level of $421.4 million, which will incorporate a recalculation of the first CSG payment at $421.4 million. CSGs should be ready by April 1, she added.
I read Ben Mook’s Feb. 11 piece about the de-commercialization of classical radio with a mixture of sadness and muted happiness. The fact that the attrition has slowed is indeed a positive, but the stubborn misconception that classical music cannot be a successful commercial radio format is simply wrong and quite depressing. The problem lies not in the music — for, indeed, properly programmed classical music on the radio has been, and can be, commercially viable — but in the music-academy approach to presentation that dooms any attempt to draw in new listeners. Classical music can be day-parted and made accessible, probably more so than almost any other genre of music.
Hear Here launched last spring as an experiment testing new ways to collect and distribute hyperlocal stories. About twice a month on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, KALW producers pop into local libraries and set up an impromptu studio.
Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise was honored for his work supporting public media’s educational service. Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a partner in CPB’s ongoing American Graduate project to reduce the drop-out rate among high school students. He also chairs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Gov. Wise spent 10 years in the U.S. House before serving as West Virginia’s governor from 2001 to 2005. The CPB Thought Leader Award honors U.S. leaders who help pubcasters serve the public in the areas of education, journalism and the arts.
The board of directors of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters has dismissed NFCB President Maxie Jackson as of March 4. He had led the organization since January 2010. Neither Jackson nor Sue Matters, chair of the NFCB Board, would discuss the reasons for Jackson’s dismissal, due to terms of a severance agreement. NFCB Board Treasurer Janis Lane-Ewart is acting as interim president of the organization. The board plans to start a nationwide search for a new leader.
For the first time, the famous theme song for public television’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is part of a commercial advertisement — with the blessing of Fred Rogers’ production company. The ad, “Can’t Wait to Meet You, Neighbour,” premiered in Canada during the Academy Awards broadcast last month, and currently promotes retailer Target’s arrival in the country. “Normally they would not entertain this,” said Livia Zufferli, director of marketing for Target Canada, referring to the Fred Rogers Co. in Pittsburgh. In addition to paying a licensing fee, Target Canada appealed to the nonprofit by touting its own philanthropic work in communities, she told the Globe and Mail.
NPR launched its new Generation Listen initiative in Austin, Texas, with a blowout bash March 11. The party, held in the midst of the South by Southwest Interactive conference, was part of the new ongoing effort to encourage listeners under the age of 30 to tune into public radio. Brian Stelter of the New York Times has a write-up of the event, which had Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! host Peter Sagal, TED Radio Hour host Guy Raz and author Neil Gaiman in attendance.
John Bredar, a senior executive producer at National Geographic Television, is the new head of national programming at major producing station WGBH in Boston. He succeeds current Vice President of National Programming Margaret Drain, who announced her retirement last year. WGBH President Jon Abbott said in the announcement today that Bredar “has a well-earned reputation for productions of the highest quality.” Bredar will oversee all primetime series produced in Boston and seen nationally on PBS, such as American Experience, Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece and Antiques Roadshow, as well as related content for digital media. Bredar joined Nat Geo in 1986 and has overseen development, production and post-production of more than 150 programs including 2005’s Arlington: Field of Honor, for which he won a Best Director Emmy.
This item has been updated and reposted with additional information
Louisville Public Media turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com to solicit contributions for its new literary radio series Unbound, which will present short fiction read by authors. The inaugural 10-episode season of Unbound will cost $9,000 to produce, and LPM is asking the Kickstarter crowd to kick in $4,000, less than half of the budget. The remaining $5,000 is already covered by a sponsorship deal with the Bachelors and Masters Writing Programs at Spalding University in Louisville. LPM is promoting the show to Kickstarter backers as “awesome short stories read by memorable voices in new fiction.” If the campaign reaches its goal, Unbound will air on LPM and be offered as a podcast and in national syndication.