Weekly roundup: Norman Lear vs. PBS, funding strategies and more

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In this week’s slipstream of public media doings:

• Norman Lear took to the New York Times to spank PBS for insufficiently supporting documentary film, weighing in on the ongoing discussion involving the network, filmmakers and New York’s WNET. “As it chases ratings, PBS risks neglecting the core of its public mission and mandate,” Lear wrote.

PBS, WNET, POV and the Independent Television Service responded: “We are working collaboratively to ensure that POV and INDEPENDENT LENS reach the widest possible audience. This includes a primetime placement on local stations’ broadcast schedules, as well as distribution on digital platforms — a powerful way to reach younger, engaged viewers — and theatrical releases, such as the premiere of Stanley Nelson’s ‘The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution’ that PBS is bringing to movie screens this fall.”

And filmmaker group Indie Caucus added its two cents: “PBS has heard from Americans across the country and their message was clear; PBS must commit to a concrete and detailed plan concerning the future of Independent Lens and POV. Is PBS committing to Monday nights, as indicated during the last stop of the listening tour in Chicago? If so, for how long? We are asking that PBS announce its plan for the future of Independent Lens and POV as soon as possible.” (Listen to our podcast to hear what Stephen Segaller, v.p. of programming at WNET, is thinking about the recent discussions.)

• New Brunswick Today, a digital news start-up, raised $15,000 on the crowdfunding platform Beacon. Josh Stearns has the details. The Knight Foundation released a study of the financial well-being of 20 nonprofit news outlets and found “significant” but “uneven progress” toward sustainability. Here’s the press release and the full report. Now you have your weekend reading. For extra credit, mull over the warnings of Robert Reich, who is concerned about philanthropists’ influence on the nonprofits that depend on them: “It’s a matter of big money influencing what should and should not be investigated, revealed, and discussed — especially when it comes to the tightening nexus between concentrated wealth and political power, and how that power further enhances great wealth.”

• A host on 89.3 The Current in the Twin Cities is taking leave after enduring months of victimization by a stalker. “I’ve made a 21-year career on the radio in this town being honest and authentic, and now I’m deathly afraid to reveal too much of myself on the air,” wrote Mary Lucia in a letter to listeners. “Basically, it’s changed the way I am — how I think, react, feel, interact with you guys. This aspect particularly bothers me.” More from the Star-Tribune.

• Serial obsessives are about to get another show to pore over. Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer who argued for Syed’s innocence in Serial, is teaming up with two other lawyers to launch her own podcast, which will take a further look at Syed’s case.

• Poynter looks at WNYC’s “Mean Streets” project, which tracked traffic fatalities in New York City over the past 15 months.

• POV‘s call for entries is now open.

• Lulu Miller was caught on Tape, Tavis Smiley talked to Democracy Now! about Maya Angelou, and Dave Isay appeared in the LA Times and on MediaShift. Public media represent!

• Finally, a few videos. If you’re afraid of heights, proceed with caution:

Or, just watch this video about the launch of KOGI-LP, a low-power FM station serving the Big Pine Paiute Tribe in Big Pine, Calif.

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