Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Open Air means for public broadcasting

When Andi McDaniel began the lead for Open Air, a new project at Twin Cities Public Television, the idea was to expand public media to younger audiences.

Since its launch over a month ago, McDaniel tells me reaction has been positive. "The response has been overwhelmingly positive," McDaniel said. "Locally, in particular, I think people are excited to see that an institution with a mission they care about, is making a point to reach out to young creative folks—and is willing to take some risks in the process."

McDaniel says it is different to an extent compared to other campaigns, and similar in other ways. "it's about smart and enjoyable content and events, nothing new in the public television world," McDaniel said. "But subtly, it is different, and I think that difference matters. The content is a little more playful, a little less produced, it feels digitally native, and so will our events. Open Air is about adapting the essence of public media content for a different era of storytelling."

There are questions within public media with the engagement of younger audiences and how it can best be obtained. McDaniel says TPT has a great base of supporters who are older, and though it is not essential short term, it is vital.

"[It] matters for 2 reasons: one is that as public media, we're about serving all audiences, and that means finding ways to meet the needs of an audience that thinks about content differently than older generations," McDaniel said. "The second reason they matter is that our support base won't be around forever—so for simple sustainability's sake, we need to remain relevant to them."

McDaniel wants public broadcasting to be on the minds philanthropy wise of younger audiences. McDaniel says also that in the long term, a young audience in public broadcasting can be engaged. "There's nothing about our mission, or even our content, that's exclusive to an older audience," McDaniel said. "Younger audiences actually already appreciate a lot of our content, in particular, our food programming, the incredible documentary work on Frontline and Nova, and our kids programming (Millennials, increasingly, are young parents). What we're trying to do with Open Air is build on that affinity, and expand it."

Noting examples from stations including Chicago's WBEZ, San Francisco's KQED and KLRU in Austin, Texas, McDaniel says she is watching to see what happens. "We'd love to learn about more."

What do you think about the role of Open Air? If you're a consumer, what do you want from your public broadcasting station? If you're working in public broadcasting, what do you want to bring to a younger audience?

Let me know in the comments section below, write on my Facebook page or tweet me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Your reply: How should public media use the Facebook hashtag?

Last week, Facebook introduced the ability for users to include hashtags in their posts. The item, similar to that used on Twitter, would be used to group certain topics that would be part of a larger discussion, according to a statement from the social network.

This has some opportunities for public broadcasters. While no formal plans have been made by any thus far, it has been indicated that it is being widely considered for usage.

What do you think? What role does the Facebook hashtag have in public broadcasting?

If you're a public media professional, how can you (or your station) see this being a part of your strategy?

If you're a consumer, what role does the hashtag have for you? Would you want to use it?

Let me know what you think, either in the comments section below, on my Facebook page or tweet me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Concerns over money at PBS Newshour

PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff at the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the 2012 campaign season.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user NewsHour)

It is being reported that there have been concerns over the fiscal nature of the PBS Newshour program.

According to a report in The New York Times cited by Current, it is said executives at MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, the producers of Newshour, requested emergency funding increments from PBS to help pay its bills. It is said Newshour has a $7 million deficit on a $28 million budget.

The report indicates that PBS gave the money, but was calling for changes to the program, including a permanent anchor (or two co-anchors). PBS also has spent $3 million on a weekend edition of Newshour, which is said to be being produced by member station WNET in New York.

In a post on the Newshour's web site, senior correspondent Gwen Ifill said the program was different compared to competitors in broadcast and in cable, in response to a column by the Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik. "We skip the stories on the pole-dancing girlfriends and the Arias-type trials. We know there are other places to go for that," Ifill said. "But we still stick by our core mission, to provide news and information for people who choose to know more than what their home browser page can show them."

Kathleen McCleery, the Deputy Executive Producer of Newshour, in a letter to Zurawik, said the program's commitment to quality journalism would continue. "We believe our efforts to reorganize and streamline our operations will allow us to continue doing what we've done well for more than three decades: supply a steady, objective voice in reporting the news on a daily basis," McCleery said. "Our mission is to provide intelligent, balanced and in-depth reporting and analysis of the most important issues and news events of the day. That mission continues."

Meanwhile, anchor Judy Woodruff tweeted this regarding the issue. "There are far worse things to be accused of than trying to create good journalism and trying to find a way to pay for it."

A spokesperson for PBS declined to comment, but said the Newshour has been a key part of PBS' schedule and mission for decades. A spokesperson for the Newshour declined to comment beyond the post on the web site.

The money concerns come also as Newshour faces criticism in a report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, saying that it needed to modernize their news gathering operations.

A call to the Gates Foundation seeking comment is awaiting a reply.

Additionally, WNET and PBS confirmed the production of PBS Newshour weekend in a statement released June 17, which sees an expansion of operations for the program in New York.

What do you think? Can the PBS Newshour recover from the financial issues? What should be done?

Let me know, either in the comments section below, on my Facebook page or tweet me.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Your reply: The summer in public media

Summer has arrived. Pledge season is underway, new episodes of famous public TV franchises are continuing, and public radio is continuing to give quality journalism seven days a week.

Here at The Pubcast Diaries, summer means guaranteed new content! I've got some ideas in the works that will be up over the course of the summer.

But tell me. What do you want to see from public broadcasting this summer?

Let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, tweet me, write on my Facebook page, or email me through my web site.