Monday roundup: Alaska journalists raise concerns; Obama renominates CPB board member

• A lengthy Columbia Journalism Review feature focuses on a conflict over journalistic ethics at Anchorage-based Alaska Public Media. CFO Bernie Washington has been nominated to serve on the State Assessment Review Board, which helps to determine revenues from oil taxes in the state. APM journalists are concerned about Washington’s appointment compromising the network’s coverage of the review board. “We are aghast, quite frankly, aghast that our management doesn’t understand that this is a solid, more than apparent conflict of interest,” Steve Heimel, host of Talk of Alaska, told CJR.

• President Obama will nominate Elizabeth Sembler for a second term on the CPB board, the White House announced Thursday. Sembler joined the board in 2008 as an appointee of President Bush; her term expires this year. She currently serves as the board’s vice chair.

CPB gives $1 million to build and expand emergency communication services

Five pubcasting stations are receiving a total of $1 million in grants from CPB to expand emergency alert and communications services. CPB announced the grants today to WSKG in Binghamton, N.Y.; Maine Public Broadcasting Network; Vegas PBS in Nevada; WGBH in Boston; and Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn. Each will work with community partners and other pubmedia entities to acquire or develop digital wireless technology to assist first responders, emergency-management agencies and the public during disasters. Using pubmedia digital broadcasting technology, officials can send emergency information through text, audio and video.

TPT rebrands youth initiative as ReWire

Twin Cities Public Television has adopted the name ReWire for the statewide network’s youth programming and engagement initiative. TPT settled on the name after its previous branding, Open Air, attracted a trademark infringement and violation suit from Colorado Public Radio. “Our vision is to rewire public media’s relationship to the world, and your relationship with public media,” Andi McDaniel, ReWire’s project manager, wrote in a re-introductory blog post Oct. 25. “[ReWire is] about connecting with our audience in new ways — through digital content, through collaborative approaches to storytelling, through interactive events, fresh takes on classic and new programming and much more.”

With Sparticl, TPT hopes to make STEM learning fun

Twin Cities Public Television launched Sparticl, a new STEM-focused sharing website geared toward middle-school students, Oct. 1 with support from a major corporate sponsor. Manufacturing company 3M backed more than two years of research and development of the site prior to its launch early this month. Sparticl curates links to articles, videos and games built around Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics–related themes, ranging from the environment to nutrition to outer space. Links are geared toward an audience of seventh- through ninth-graders.

After lawsuit from Colorado Public Radio, TPT drops Open Air name

Following legal pressure from another public media outlet, Twin Cities Public Television is rebranding its younger-viewer outreach initiative five months after its initial launch. Andi McDaniel, manager of TPT’s Open Air project, announced Oct. 15 on the project blog that the network would be changing the name, citing “the fact that there are other public media brethren entities using the name” as one of the reasons behind the change. In July, Colorado Public Radio filed a trademark infringement and violation suit against TPT in federal court over use of “Open Air,” which is also the name of a Denver-area Triple-A music station that CPR has operated since 2011. McDaniel also wrote that the Open Air name became less useful for the brand “as our work progressed and we gained focus,” and that TPT began brainstorming a new name in August.

Next Avenue, pubmedia site for seniors, sees “win-win” in partnership with RLTV

Next Avenue — the online magazine for Americans aged 50 years and older created by Twin Cities Public Television — is now sharing its content with RLTV, a cable and online network for seniors. The agreement, announced Jan. 2, marks the beginning of a targeted syndication push, said Next Avenue Executive Director Judy Diaz. “We’re investing a lot in content, not just in money but in the time it takes to create the pieces,” she said. The plan is a win-win, expanding Next Avenue’s content distribution while raising revenue, Diaz said.

Next Avenue will use Web to super-serve a (slightly) younger PBS audience

When Jim Pagliarini and Judy Diaz say public TV should pay more attention to a younger audience, they’re not thinking of viewers in their 20s and 30s. Their Next Avenue project, based at Twin Cities Public Television, aims at Boomers, the big generation now between the ages of 45 and 65, with its biggest numbers toward the younger end. In contrast, 60 percent of PBS’s audience is over 60, Diaz says, though it has many Boomer viewers. “We’re not reaching them, and we’re not engaging them now,” says Diaz. Boomers — “that’s an NPR audience,” she adds.


The makers of Liberty!, which airs Nov. 23-25 on PBS stations, are trying nothing less than to renovate the dusty reputation of the country’s founding fathers and their revolution. “People sort of consider it inherently boring — long-ago, far-away people in funny wigs, saying profound things you don’t quite understand,” says Ronald Blumer, writer and co-producer of Liberty! Not so! The producers summon up Ben Franklin to look viewers in the eye, and dozens of his contemporaries to admit they don’t know what will happen next in this Revolutionary War.