Wednesday roundup: PBS ombuds criticizes network’s treatment of Current; Poynter looks toward reinvention

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PBS staff attempted to prevent Current’s Dru Sefton from photographing a protester at the network’s Annual Meeting. (Photo: Dru Sefton, Current)

• PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler is displeased with his network’s attempt to limit Current’s reporting of an incident at its Annual Meeting last week. In a May 19 column, Getler criticized PBS staff for attempting to prevent a Current reporter from photographing a Forecast the Facts protester who took the stage at the meeting. The protester was escorted out by security. The PBS staffer’s efforts to discourage Current’s coverage were “clearly wrong,” Getler said.

Getler also took issue with Anne Bentley, PBS head of corporate communications, for responding that the network’s procedure is “for communications staff to manage interactions with reporters.”

“The handcuffing of a protester in the lobby of a major hotel is a news story — not a PBS story — and taking pictures of the event is part of that news story,” Getler wrote. “To say that ‘our procedure is for communications staff to manage interactions with reporters’ and to ‘wait until a PR staff member could arrive’ is like telling someone not to take pictures of an airplane crashing until the company PR person arrives.”

• The Poynter Institute has unveiled a new strategic plan calling for a redesigned website, expanded online courses and new positions including an “innovator in residence,” an endowed chair in digital journalism and a “digital innovator.” It may begin leasing space in its St. Petersburg, Fla., headquarters to generate revenue.

• “I am a totebag,” proclaims a WXXI totebag via Twitter. “As such, I can carry anything. Except things larger than a totebag.” It’s part of the Rochester, N.Y., pubcaster’s whimsical approach to fundraising. “It’s just a fun little project to get the community engaged while letting them know we’re in pledge,” spokesperson Kristin Tutino told Current. The tote bag has been traveling around town with a station photographer in tow and has gained more than 130 followers since Friday.

• The Network Operations Center master-control hub in Jacksonville, Fla., officially opened for business this week. The hub will house broadcast operations for 11 public television stations in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Illinois, backed by a $7 million grant from CPB. In 2012, the project was known as the Jacksonville Digital Convergence Alliance.

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