Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

Crowdfunding For Public Radio?

June 24, 2010

The evolution of media is something on everyone’s mind these days. Whether it is speculation on the possible demise of the traditional newspaper or the development of digital age tools for reporting, it is a huge subject. This is exactly why the Knight News Challenge was created, wherein the Knight Foundation awards several million dollars each year for “innovative ideas that develop platforms, tools and services to inform and transform community news, conversations and information distribution and visualization.” In other words, bringing the news into the 21st century.

The Public Radio Exchange’s StoryMarket project has just been awarded $75,000 in the Knight News Challenge. Additionally, it will build on — and collaborate with — Spot.us, a prior high-profile Knight winner, to apply the principles of crowdfunding to public radio.

Here’s a quick description taken from the official announcement of the Knight Grant, as found on the Neiman Lab article about this subject:

Building on the software created by 2008 challenge winner Spot.us, this project will allow anyone to pitch and help pay to produce a story for a local public radio station. When the amount is raised (in small contributions), the station will hire a professional journalist to do the report. The project provides a new way for public radio stations to raise money, produce more local content and engage listeners.

Another very important thing about this approach is that it addresses an issue facing all radio stations, public and commercial: the need for more local content. In the current markets, radio stations are trying harder and harder to engage with their audience through a return to local reporting. Story Market is something to watch because the stories produced, if successful, will be dictated by that local market.

Image: Knight Foundation Logo / Fair Use: Reporting

CPB to Fund Local News on NPR and PBS

March 29, 2010

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

Leroy Sievers Passes

August 19, 2008

At the age of 53, award-winning journalist Leroy Sievers has lost his battle with cancer. While most of you probably know him from his amazing work on Nightline with Ted Koppel, it is the work he did starting in 2006 for NPR that I would like to look at.

Via Valerie J. Nelson at the Los Angeles Times:

He began his public conversation about the disease by saying, “Death and I are hardly strangers” in a that aired on NPR’s “Morning Edition” in early 2006. It was a reference to his quarter-century as a journalist during which he covered more than a dozen wars for CBS and ABC news. His radio commentaries evolved into a regular series about his life that he called “cancer world.” The project grew to include a daily blog and a weekly podcast.

“Leroy gave voice to a topic that we are very uncomfortable with — death and dying,” Ellen McDonnell, NPR’s morning programming director said in a statement.

As he shared with the world an inside view of fighting terminal illness, he also pointed the way to the future in the way he chose to do so. By combining traditional broadcast with blogging and podcasting, he was able to reach out across the nation not only to fellow cancer patients, but to the populace at large.

Having direct experience in Iraq, Kososvo, Central America, and Somalia among other blood-drenched trouble spots, death was indeed “no stranger,” although a much more lingering house guest than he may have expected. It was this greatest battle that he chose to share with us via the medium of radio — NPR’s Morning Edition to be precise.

Via Shomial Ahmad at NPR:

As he began chemotherapy treatments, Sievers detailed his experiences on NPR’s Morning Edition, in a commentary that aired Feb. 16, 2006.

Ellen McDonnell, NPR’s morning-programming director, recalls listening to that first commentary, and she remembers how the rawness and transparency of Sievers’ words struck a chord with listeners — those battling cancer, and others as well.

Several months after the first commentary came a second, and then a regular series chronicling Sievers’ life in what he called “Cancer World.”

Eventually, under the title “My Cancer,” the project would become a multimedia conversation that included a daily blog, a weekly podcast and — most important to Sievers — a community.

From frank sharing of the simple things — the uncomfortable silences in conversation that come with cancer, a desire to live long enough to read the final Harry Potter book, and more — Sievers gave the world a window into what it is like to not only fight for your life against illness, but also into all of the ways that such an illness affects all aspects of day to day existence. By grounding it in the normally mundane details of existence, he opened up room for actual conversation.

Terminal illness often makes one feel outside of normal life, separated by rebellious bodily functions and deterioration from the lighter hearted day to day life of those around you. Sievers provided a forum on which people could talk about their feelings, fears, hopes, and the daily tribulations that chronic illness brings.

[…] many reporters asked Sievers variations on one basic question: “What do you get out of writing the blog?”

He concluded one My Cancer post with an answer: “A daily reminder that none of us walks this road alone. What could be better than that?”

Indeed. What could be better? All trials are easier with some company. Leroy, we will miss your company and your insight. Broadcast media as a whole will be lessened by your departure.

NPR – Leroy Sievers: A Farewell In His Own Words

Photo courtesy of NC in DC, used under its Creative Commons license