Geneva Overholser Discusses Pulitzer Prizes, NSA surveillance reporting on PBS NewsHour

Geneva Overholser, former USC Annenberg Journalism School Director and now a senior fellow at USC Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, was featured on PBS NewsHour in an interview with anchor Gwen Ifill on the Pulitzer Prize awards for coverage of the NSA's extensive surveillance programs broken by the release of classified documents by Edward Snowden. The Pulitzer board's decision to award the Prize to the The Washington Post and The Guardian has fueled the debate over where journalists should draw the line when reporting on national security and government surveillance. Overholser said in the interview that although the…

Art on Public Media ‘Anywhere and Anytime’ – but on a flat budget

WASHINGTON – The future of arts and culture on public media was the focus of a CCLP roundtable here on Wednesday, featuring leaders in broadcasting, on line and mobile media. The challenge, summarized by Alyce Myatt of the National Endowment for the Arts, is to present more culture from more artists on more platforms – "anywhere and anytime" – at a time when resources are not increasing. Click the following link for Myatt's report: Alyce Myatt presentation.pdf…

Ford Foundation grant signals shift away from public broadcasting

The Ford Foundation, which for decades funded much of public broadcasting, last week shifted its media grantmaking to a different medium – newspapers. The Los Angeles Times announced the $1 million grant, which according to the Times will pay for reporters to cover "Vietnamese, Korean and other immigrant communities, the California prison system, the border region and Brazil." The Times story noted that the new Brazil-based reporter will be the newspaper's first full-time correspondent in Latin America in "several years." Until now, the Ford Foundation has been more closely associated with public radio and television. Ford used to give National…

VIDEO – Public Media Futures Los Angeles Forum

Public Media Futures Los Angeles Forum USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, in partnership with American University’s School of Communication presented a forum on the future of public media in an era of shrinking government support. The conversation focused on innovations in programming and new models for sustainable funding. Participants included top executives and programmers, including Bill Davis, president and CEO, KPCC/Southern California Public Radio; Al Jerome, president and CEO, KCET; Ed Miskevich, station manager, KOCE/PBS SoCal; Suzanne Marmion, news and editorial strategy director, KPBS-TV/FM. CCLP senior fellow Adam Clayton Powell III led the conversation together with Mark…

Church groups fail in attempts to buy Calif., Florida PBS stations

Religious broadcasters' plans to buy PBS stations in California and Florida have been blocked, one at an auction and the other by the seller cancelling the transaction. KCSM-TV, a PBS station serving the San Francisco Bay Area, is in financial difficulty and was put up for auction in February, and last week the top two bidders were announced. Neither is a church group….

Peabody Awards recognize independent public television producers

This year's Peabody Awards hold special places of honor for independent producers, just as critics charge PBS is trying to marginalize them. Operating with far fewer resources than the PBS network, independent producers won four awards, while their wealthier PBS colleagues won three. The series "Independent Lens" was the only television program honored with two Peabodys, both for documentaries – one award went to "Bhutto," on the life of Benazir Bhutto, described by ITVS as "an epic tale of Shakespearean dimension. It's the story of the first Muslim woman elected in history to lead an Islamic nation: Pakistan." She was…

‘Downton Abbey’ hype may highlight PBS problems

PBS executives are promoting the second season of its imported British costume drama "Downton Abbey," doing their best not only to attract viewers to the program but also to present "Downton Abbey" as part of a new strategy to attract audiences. However, critics such as Brian Lowry of Variety have responded by saying that this is more public relations than anything resembling a deliberate plan, "misreading something after the fact, then allowing execs to conflate an unexpected windfall into a 'strategy.'" And across the Atlantic, the hype may have backfired. In the UK, where "Downton Abbey" runs on the commercial…

PBS President says no major retooling needed for public TV, but mulls adding pay-TV service

PBS President Paula Kerger said today she disagreed with Bill Moyers' call for a national meeting to reconsider and re-define U.S. public broadcasting. Moyers called for a "constitutional convention" to spur a "rebirth" of public television and radio, in a speech this month to public TV executives. "The core problem," said Moyers, "is that we still don't have an expansive national vision of what we're about, where we want to go and what we want to become. Until we are able to say clearly and comprehensively what it is we really want to do, how much it will cost, and…

New venture fund for public TV, and launch of all-pledge PBS channel

WASHINGTON – New revenue models to support public television have been announced – one a new twist on venture philanthropy and another taking a traditional source of funds to what may be its logical extreme. The venture philanthropy comes from the formation of Independent Public Media last week. Fuelled by revenue from spectrum leases, IPM will "acquire and recapitalize television stations at risk of closing or selling their licenses to organizations that may not represent a community's interests at large," according to its news release. To illustrate the threat to local public television stations, IPM's announcement cited three stations: "Three…