Fanning on a ‘big bang’ moment for Frontline: bringing online depth to reporting

David Fanning, e.p. of Frontline, discussed the WGBH program’s evolving use of the Web Aug. 23, 2010, in accepting the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. At the same time, the Center honored the winner and finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. One of the four finalists was a reporting project, including a Frontline doc, “Law & Disorder.” The film about white vigilante activities in New Orleans was prepared in collaboration with ProPublica, the Nation Institute and the New Orleans Times-Picayne.

Hopes of viewers and producers invested in Need to Know

Ten weeks before the air date of Need to Know, WNET announced the executive producer. Seven weeks before, the producing station named the co-anchors. On May 7 the new public affairs series debuts on PBS. A lot will be riding on the show. For PBS it’s a rare chance to start a potential “icon series” with new styles and substance, demonstrating that folks in “legacy media” can interact and innovate like digital natives.

For NewsHour, one staff is stronger than two

They busted down newsroom walls, adding some space but much more humanity, doubling the number of desks, adding new editing stations and a fixed camera for quick shirt-sleeves standups. The broadcast and website now carry the PBS NewsHour title and they come from the same combined staff.

Online collaboration: TV, radio have sitdowns

PBS will go public Wednesday with discussion of its News & Public Affairs Initiative — an ongoing study that’s weighing options for cooperation and online collaboration among its news units and with those of public radio. Journalists from public TV and radio have had their “first sit-downs about what might be possible in the syncing of radio and television,” says Tom Thomas, co-c.e.o. of the Station Resource Group. Appearing with PBS officials in a PBS Showcase session, 11 a.m. May 13, will be project facilitator Tom Bettag, former ABC Nightline e.p. The initiative is funded by a Pew Charitable Trusts grant to the public TV network. Reps from the NewsHour, Frontline and other PBS public-affairs units and from NPR and other public radio news units have been invited to meet for discussions the day before. PBS asked Bettag to consider how public TV can reinvent its public affairs offerings, and Bettag has been quizzing leaders of news units, according to David Fanning, e.p. of Frontline.

News cycle attracts record listening

NPR programming on public radio stations topped its previous audience record by reaching 27.5 million listeners a week during Arbitron’s fall 2008 survey period. The weekly cume audience for all NPR programs and newscasts, Sept. 10 to Dec. 10, beat the previous high of 26.4 million set last spring. It is one of several ratings gains announced March 23 by NPR Research:

Measuring audiences for non-NPR as well as NPR programs on those member stations, the weekly cume hit another all-time high, 32.7 million, 6 percent larger than fall 2007.

Worldcasts: Long-overdue broadening of news horizons

Anyone who watched, say, the ABC World News in late November and early December would have known that a tiny band of terrorists had come ashore in Mumbai, killing more than 100 Indians and foreign visitors, and that most observers speculated the attack probably came from Pakistan. They would have known that Thai protesters had occupied the Bangkok airport, stranding hundreds of tourists. And they would have known that economic chaos and cholera were descending on Zimbabwe, which President Robert Mugabe held in what was almost literally a death grip. But they would not have known that the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo had been handed over from United Nations forces to those of the European Union. They would not have heard that drugs manufactured around the world were being exported to the U.S. with few, if any, safeguards against accidental or deliberate adulteration.

Orozco gives small station big-league news presence

Lance Orozco is one of Southern California’s most honored and recognized journalists. Yet he doesn’t work for the Los Angeles Times or a commercial megastation. Orozco has instead landed dozens of awards from area press groups by making an unlikely news powerhouse out of tiny KCLU-FM in Thousand Oaks, a Ventura County suburb northwest of Los Angeles. The station employs just four full-time staffers but has won a flood of praise for the extensive local coverage spearheaded by Orozco, its news director and reporting dynamo. Last month the Associated Press Television and Radio Association of California and Nevada awarded KCLU and Orozco nine of its Mark Twain Awards, including one naming him Radio Reporter of the Year.