SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – At a forum of leading public media professionals, participants expressed mixed feelings about whether public media can, or should, replace newspapers as primary gatherers of news. At the fourth Public Media Futures forum, held Thursday at Bloomberg’s offices in San Francisco, more than two dozen public media professionals debated whether the industry’s non-broadcast capabilities are robust enough to allow it to fill the role of a daily newspaper. In some respects, public broadcasting websites have already moved into the up-to-the-minute newsgathering space. Kinsey Wilson, executive v.p. and chief content officer at NPR, said NPR.org functions much like a newspaper website, with breaking news, a story flow that shifts multiple times a day and large quantities of original content apart from radio pieces rewritten for the Web.
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.
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.
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.