CPB to Fund Local News on NPR and PBS

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Local news, local interest, local color: you keep hearing about these things in the discussion about modern radio. Content may be king, but figuring out which content? Ah, there’s the rub. Many out there, including myself, believe local content to be an important part of this equation. This number includes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), who have just announced $10 million in funding for local news content.

Of course, another motivation for this move is the rapid decline of our sister media, print. As newspapers around the country fail or reduce their staffing, there is an opportunity to help transition print journalists into radio and its new permutations online.  Brett Zongker from the Associated Press brings us the breakdown:

On Thursday, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced the creation of local journalism centers in five regions. [National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)] stations in each region will collaborate on covering key issues, including immigration, agribusiness, the economy and health care. They will jointly hire about 50 multimedia journalists.

“This is a commitment to journalism,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation, which is a nonprofit organization created and funded by Congress. “As we look at this environment and the impact on newspapers, we just felt we had to … try something innovative and ensure that we hired real journalists as part of this initiative.”

In many ways, what we are seeing here is a blending of broadcast radio, broadcast TV, and Internet-based media, the exact sort of evolution I was predicting over two years ago when we first launched this blog. The notable thing, in my opinion, is that the broadcast elements continue to be relevant and vital parts of the mechanism which are then in a sense rebroadcast across the Internet along with additional content only available there.

But wait, there’s more! An NPR-administered technology platform will also get funding, a platform for all public broadcasters to collaborate across and  share content through. On top of that, the Knight Foundation is putting their wallet behind a project to place journalist bloggers in the public stations of several unannounced cities to the tune of a cool $2 million.

Then add these new initiatives into the equation and CPB has invested $90 million in new journalism initiatives over the past two years. The stations and networks involved retain full authority as part of the arrangement.

All of us in the commercial world should watch these developments. NPR and CPB have been a fascinating laboratory for exploring the confluence of radio and new media. While driven by fundamental differences in financial goals, public radio and commercial radio still have a lot to teach each other.

Image: CPB Logo / Fair Use: Reporting

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