Articles about "PBS"

Career Beat: Arianna Huffington to get new chief of staff

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Elise Hu will be NPR’s Asia correspondent in Seoul. She covers tech and culture at NPR. (Poynter)
  • Mitra Kalita is now executive editor-at-large for Quartz. Previously, she was ideas editor there. Paul Smalera will be Quartz’ new ideas editor. He is editor of The New York Times opinion app. (Poynter)
  • Donald Baer is now chairman of PBS’ board of directors. He is CEO of Burson-Marsteller. (PBS)
  • Jessica Coen is now a contributing editor at Marie Claire. She is an editor-at-large with Jezebel. (Fishbowl NY)
  • Stephen Lacy is now chairman of the Association of Magazine Media. He is CEO of the Meredith Corporation. (Email)
  • Dan Katz will be chief of staff to Arianna Huffington. He’s currently a chief researcher for David Gergen. Maxwell Strachan is now senior editor of business and tech at The Huffington Post. Previously, he was business editor there. (email)
  • Emily Yoshida will be entertainment editor at The Verge. Previously, she was culture editor at Grantland. (Muck Rack)

Job of the day: The Virginian-Pilot is looking for a digital news editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more

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PBS shouldn’t ‘get in the way of reporters or photographers covering news,’ ombudsman says

PBS | Current

A PBS staffer was “clearly wrong” to try to stop a reporter from photographing hotel security detain a protester at PBS’ annual meeting last week, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler writes. PBS distributes news programs, and “many people understandably view it as a news and public affairs network, and so PBS needs to continue doing that and not get in the way of reporters or photographers covering news,” he writes.

Dru Sefton, who reported on PBS’ interference for Current, tells Getler the staffer (whose identity Getler says he doesn’t know) “was frantically trying to contact Anne Bentley [PBS vice-president for communications] on her phone.” Sefton continues:

She was basically stating loudly over and over, STOP TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS. STOP TAKING PHOTOS, things of that sort. And she was placing herself between me and the protester and security guard—I’d step to the right, she’d step in front of me. To the left, ditto. She also held up her notebook or clipboard at one point. I also couldn’t hear what the guard was saying to the protester because this staffer kept loudly telling me to stop taking pictures. I tried shooting around her but it was basically impossible.

Bentley told Poynter at the time that the incident was “extremely unfortunate” and “It is our understanding that it is being handled by the hotel in accordance with their standard policy and procedures.” Bentley told Getler, “Our procedure is for communications staff to manage interactions with reporters. One of our conference services staff had asked that Current wait until a PR staff member could arrive.”

That’s “like telling someone not to take pictures of an airplane crashing until the company PR person arrives,” Getler writes. Read more

FILE - In this March 12, 2004 file photo, former New York Times reporter, Jayson Blair speaks to an audience in New York's Harlem neighborhood. After the plagiary scandal, Blair has been working as a life coach in northern Va. since 2007. The ex-New York Times reporter best known for fabricating and plagiarizing says his experience hitting the lows helps him relate to people, and the respected psychologist who hired him into his practice agrees: "Jayson is now using his talents for good." (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)

Washington Post was ambivalent about Jayson Blair story at first

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia writes that when he discovered New York Times reporter Jayson Blair had plagiarized from a San Antonio Express-News article, “I called the national desk at The Post and suggested we write about what appeared to be an egregious case of plagiarism.” He “didn’t relish the idea of doing a gotcha piece about another journalist. For years, I felt so conflicted about the events that took place on that reporting trip that I seldom mentioned my small, early role in what became a major scandal.”

Roig-Franzia says the Post’s first reaction was “Meh.” After he met with Macarena Hernandez, who wrote the Express-News story, he decided to try again:

I made another call, and this time my editor, Daniel LeDuc — who also felt strongly that The Post should write about the plagiarism — took printouts of the two stories directly to Leonard Downie Jr., the paper’s executive editor. Downie left no doubt: The Post should jump on it.

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Journalism education site hopes to become hub for ‘solutions journalism’


PBS’ MediaShift launched a site focused on journalism education Wednesday. EducationShift hopes to become “the central hub for journalism educators, students and professionals to find resources, tools and support for transforming their work,” University of Wisconsin professor Katy Culver writes in an introductory post. Culver, who has taught and written for Poynter, is EducationShift’s curator.

EducationShift went live with a collection of articles that suggest its focus will indeed be on “solutions journalism,” as Culver puts it: Sue Robinson on “Creating a Social Media Class Out of Nothing“; Erica Salkin on how student journalists can avoid legal scuffles; Irving Washington on how to win a challenge grant for journalism education. The effort is funded by Knight and its “charter sponsor” is Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.

The publication plans biweekly Twitter chats; this Friday at 1 p.m. ET Poynter’s Howard Finberg and Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation will discuss whether j-school is necessary. Some texts you might want to bone up on if you’re planning to tune in:

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Gwen Ifill wrote Dec. 12 for PBS about the media’s coverage of Nelson Mandela’s funeral and a series of non-stories that, together, added up to missing the big picture.

The other non-story that overwhelmed coverage of a historic day was fun but excessive. I admit I shared the picture of the president posing for a “selfie” with the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Denmark on Twitter. It was cute. It was funny, especially because Michelle Obama seemed so unamused.
But never in a million years did I think it would consume (and obscure) so much of the Mandela coverage. Is it because we can’t resist a caption contest?”

Gwen Ifill

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PBS takes advantage of debate’s ‘Big Bird’ moment

Mashable | The Huffington Post | Chicago Sun-Times | USA Today
PBS bought the term “Big Bird” on Twitter, so anyone searching for the term would see an ad for an advocacy site it’s set up. “PBS could teach other brands a thing or two about how to turn a meme into a marketing opportunity,” Seth Fiegerman writes.

In Wednesday night’s debate, Mitt Romney said he would eliminate the federal subsidy for PBS. In an interview with CNN Thursday, PBS CEO Paula Kerger said, “The fact that we are in this debate at all to me is incomprehensible.” Read more


Survey: Fox most uncivil, PBS most civil news organization

Civility in America (PDF)
An online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted in April found that 62 percent consider the media uncivil.

While this is considerably lower than last year’s incivility rating of 74%, it ranks among the top five most uncivil aspects of American life. A contributing reason to that perception may be that the vast majority of Americans agree that the media is more interested in controversy than facts (82%).

Cable channels were viewed as more uncivil than broadcast networks, and PBS was considered most civil.

“Americans tend to rate the civility levels of similar TV outlets alike — cable news channels such as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN are perceived similarly as are broadcast news networks such as NBC News, ABC News and CBS News,” says the report.
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Ombuds pick their notable corrections of 2011

At newspapers and other media organizations, it’s often the ombudsman — aka public editor, aka readers’ editor — who’s charged with the (mostly) thankless task of receiving error reports from the public and staff, and writing any resulting corrections.

This task occupies hours of their time each week, and sometimes daily. They read emails and take calls from readers, viewers and listeners pointing out errors. They track down the correct information. They follow up with editors and reporters. They respond to the public, and sometimes they also write columns or blog posts about the mistakes and the decisions they make regarding corrections.

As 2011 drew to a close, I wondered which of the corrections from the past year stood out for the people who think about them every day. So I asked. Below are six responses from correction handlers in the United States, Canada and Belgium. Each entry is in their own words, unless otherwise noted, with a bit of editing from me.

Kansas City Star: Derek Donovan, Readers’ Representative

There have been several memorable corrections this year, but this one from July 30 addressed an error that I believe was the result of a bizarre accident in the page design process:

In some editions of a July 16 story, extraneous text was inadvertently inserted into quotes from swimmer (Jane Doe), 14. Please see the sports pages of today’s Johnson County Neighborhood News and The Olathe News for the correct quotes.

The story in question ran in two different zoned tabs. Everything was fine in the version that printed first. The proof looks exactly like the final printed copy from the presses. With The Star’s computer system, zoned content is created in one place and becomes the source for the next version pretty much automatically. If it was correct in the first version, nothing should change for the second.

However, it looks like whoever was designing that second page inadvertently put his or her cursor down in the already-edited and proofed content from the swimming story and started typing. My best guess is that this person thought he was typing something about a basketball game on another page, because the word “balls” and the nonsense word “baball” were inserted into this 14-year-old swimmer’s quotes in the already-proofed story — in places that made no sense whatsoever.

The result was gibberish (“And it’s reallybaball fun to compete against them here.”), but you can imagine how that must have felt for a teenage girl. I’m pretty confident nobody in the girl’s family thought it was intentional, and I’ve never seen any other evidence of immature goofing around with copy in the Sports department here.

People are too busy for that kind of thing. But it was definitely one of the more unfortunate errors I’ve seen in a long time. I sent the family a nice archival full-color printout of the story with the correct text as a keepsake.

MediaBugs: Scott Rosenberg, Founder

MediaBugs isn’t a news organization, and Scott Rosenberg isn’t an ombudsman. But I asked Rosenberg to submit his most memorable correction because MediaBugs is a service that enables members of the public to report mistakes they see in the press. Rosenberg then works to get a correction, so he is involved with a fair number of corrections during the year. (Disclosure: I am an unpaid advisor to MediaBugs.)

Rosenberg cited this correction from The New York Times as his choice for most memorable:

This article gives an imprecise explanation for why providing assistance to the Taliban was a felony. Executive orders by Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush forbade such assistance because the Taliban was considered a threat to the United States and had provided haven to Al Qaeda, but those orders did not declare the Taliban to be a terrorist organization. (The error was brought to The Times’s attention after related news reports in June 2011.)

Rosenberg’s commentary:

When a decade-old uncorrected error in the New York Times blew up in the face of a KQED interviewer on live radio on May 25, 2011, the incident highlighted some of the thorniest dilemmas facing large media organizations entering the digital age.

The host of KQED Forum relied on a New York Times story from 2002 to declare that “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh had pleaded guilty to providing services to a terrorist organization. Lindh’s father Frank, the show’s guest, insisted this was untrue. The host argued with him, Times clip in hand; but Frank Lindh was correct, and the Times was wrong. KQED ran a half-hour show the next day apologizing for its mistake.

But the Times story remained uncorrected until Lindh filed an error report with MediaBugs, which contacted the Times. A week later, the original Times story was finally corrected. That’s well and good, but the affair only ended up exposing the deep inconsistencies in the Times’ approach to fixing errors in its archives: apparently, with older mistakes, after some indeterminate period of time from publication has passed, the paper will not post corrections; except that, sometimes, as with the Lindh story, it will.

This messy policy can’t stand. For the sake of its own reputation and to preserve the (extremely high) value of its repository of past work, the Times will eventually have to take responsibility for the accuracy of everything it has published, no matter how far back in time.

New York Times: Greg Brock, Senior Editor/Standards

Of course, we take errors very seriously here. But because we correct any error brought to our attention — including middle initials — we invariably end up with some funny ones. This has to be one of the best of 2011 (and it shows the lengths to which The Times will go to set the record straight):

A report in the Extra Bases baseball notebook last Sunday misidentified, in some editions, the origin of the name Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, which Mets pitcher R. A. Dickey gave one of his bats. Orcrist was not, as Dickey had said, the name of the sword used by Bilbo Baggins in the Misty Mountains in ”The Hobbit.” Orcrist was the sword used by the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield in the book. (Bilbo Baggins’s sword was called Sting.)

As far as serious errors, we have certainly had our share. But nothing irritates me more than when we misspell someone’s name. First, it’s Journalism 101. (Phillips — one L or two?) Second, the person whose name we have misspelled (I’m speaking of regular folks — not public figures) most likely has never been mentioned in The Times — and never will be again. In 2011, we have misspelled almost 500 given names or surnames. (And in a few instances, we have misspelled both!)

Taken together, those are my picks for the ones I most regret.

PBS: Michael Getler, Ombudsman

Getler pointed to this editor’s note issued by the PBS program Frontline:

After broadcasting “The Spill,” we heard from the office of Deputy Secretary Hayes at the Department of Interior. They complained that, in response to a question posed by correspondent and co-producer Martin Smith, an answer from a later exchange with Deputy Secretary Hayes had been edited in.

Reviewing the sequence, we determined that this, indeed, had happened. We asked Smith to reconstruct how this came about, and this is what he told us:

“Initially, as we cut the sequence, my question was followed by Mr Hayes’ first answer and then combined with a later answer to a similar question, in order to help flesh out the Secretary’s position. This is a standard editorial decision in editing down a complex exchange for television.

“Later, however, in the last part of a very tight production schedule, the first answer was dropped. We were editing for clarity and sharpness, but also to fit the time constraints of the one-hour broadcast, and a late-night decision led to this error of judgment.

“We did not set out to be anything less than fair to the Deputy Secretary’s position. But because both the question and the answers dealt with the same basic issue – how the Department deals with companies with bad safety and environmental records – it appeared at the time to be acceptable. I did not intend in any way to misrepresent Deputy Secretary Hayes’ views.”

FRONTLINE’s editors agree that the edit was a mistake and not in keeping with our journalistic practices, and we regret it. We have corrected the error and replaced the sequence with the first question and answer. This version is now posted on our web site, and will be included in any future broadcasts.

We believe that the original broadcast offered a fair representation of Deputy Secretary Hayes’ position for our television audience. (You can read an independent review of this matter prepared by the PBS Ombudsman.)

For those interested in the extended version of Deputy Secretary Hayes’ interview with producer/correspondent Martin Smith, we published the transcript on our web site on the night of the original broadcast — a commitment to transparency that we’ve maintained for more than 15 years.

“I found it amazing that such a fine program would do something like that,” Getler wrote in his email to me. At the time, he wrote a column about the error. (Poynter noted the column when it was published.) An excerpt from what Getler wrote then:

… This was a mistake, in my view; a big and serious one in terms of the inherent risk it takes with Frontline’s credibility in the interest of what Frontline says was providing more clarity to the viewer on one very brief portion of the program. It was a question and answer switch that was absolutely sure to be caught and questioned — by David Hayes — even though no one else would notice it.

I have no experience as a producer and, as I’ve said, have appreciation for the challenge of compressing these things. My guess is that other producers have wrestled with this kind of problem and dealt with it in various ways. But the idea of matching one question with the answer to another one just violates a rule so basic that it is hard for me to absorb and impossible to condone. I find it astonishing that Frontline went down this road. There must have been better ways to do this.

The narrator, for example, plays a huge role in this program, carrying the theme of BP culpability throughout the script and the questioning of why BP wasn’t challenged more by Interior about its deep water efforts. Had they left Hayes’ actual answer to the first question in the program and then had the narrator say something like, “Later in the interview Hayes also said . . .” it seems as though it would have worked. Easy for me to say and not have to figure out what else to cut, but definitely worth it in terms of the stakes here for Frontline.

Or, if Frontline believes, as Dornstein said in his first response, that Smith “asked Hayes several versions of the same question,” why not just use the question Smith asked that produced the answer from Hayes that Frontline found most clear?

De Standaard (Belgium): Tom Naegels, Ombudsman

The most memorable correction I had to deal with — just a week ago, as it happens — involved a lot of misunderstandings.

One of our journalists had written a piece in which he mentioned that a certain professor’s position at his university was “not disputed” (in Dutch: “niet echt omstreden”). That was the phrase he intentionally chose and it appeared as such on paper. The article also appeared simultaneously on our website. There, a couple of readers found the phrase “not disputed” to be odd — they thought it was a mistake, they thought it should read “not indisputed” (“niet echt onomstreden”) and signalled it as such via the “report a correction” button.

Now this is where it gets complicated … The online editor believed that the readers were right. He didn’t check with the journalist and changed the word. That meant there were now two opposing versions of the same line on our website. [The original language was] on the PDF version of the paper, which you can download … in the online article, which is one click away (you can choose between PDF and html), the professor’s position was “not indisputed.”

Next step: I wrote my ombud’s column about the journalist’s piece. I criticized him for not being convincing enough. I also quoted a couple of lines, among them the disputed/indisputed one. As it happens, I always copy-paste my quotes from the online edition, to make sure I do not make mistakes in copying the quotes.
By copying the “mistakenly corrected mistake that wasn’t one,” however, I DID misquote the journalist, which made him understandably angry. He thought my criticisms were beside the point anyway, and now I couldn’t even quote him correctly! “Isn’t that the first thing you might expect from an ombudsman?” he said.

Now, I managed to convince him of my good intentions. We went to the online editor, found out what had happened, and he apologized and re-corrected the false correction. Both in html and on PDF, the professor is once again not disputed.

There’s one exception: my own column. There, it still reads that the good man is, according to the journalist, “not undisputed.” And I have no idea how to deal with that. If I have it changed, I create the same situation: the PDF would tell you the opposite from the HTML article. Read more


Why Knight Foundation turned down ‘NewsHour’ funding request

The New York Times
In a story detailing challenges facing “PBS NewsHour,” Elizabeth Jensen writes that the program must find a replacement for Chevron’s $2 million sponsorship, which the company decided not to renew for 2012. NewsHour approached the Knight Foundation, which paid to revamp the “NewsHour” website in 2009, but Knight said no. Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight, tells Jensen, “Our issue with it is that it’s what they usually do. We’re interested in new and different ways of doing things, because one thing you can say about the future of news is it’s not going to be the same. Folks who can be nimble and change are going to do better in the future than those who are slow to change.” || Related: PublicSource, a Pittsburgh-area investigative news site, launches with the help of a Knight Community Information Challenge grant Read more


Longtime Washington Post exec Bo Jones to MacNeil/Lehrer

Romenesko+ memo
After more than three decades with The Washington Post, Bo Jones will become President and CEO of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, which produces “PBS Newshour.” Jones, who is currently chairman of The Washington Post, will lead funding efforts for the hourlong nightly newscast and work with stations and distributors. He will also be involved in program development. “Newshour” original anchor Jim Lehrer will leave the position in December. Jones starts in January. Read more