By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Current

Mike Blinder tells us about his latest project — a vertical dedicated to public media

On the latest “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Mike Blinder, the publisher of Editor & Publisher magazine, which is now much, much more than a magazine. It’s a cutting-edge multimedia source of information on innovation in our industry. Mike hosts E&P’s weekly vodcast series, “E&P Reports.” He’s also been a guest on this podcast previously, and today’s he’s back to talk about a new venture.

Blinder has a new vertical on public media called Public Pulse. It’s newsy and filled with insider information. It aggregates the latest on stories like conflict ignited by Uri Berliner at NPR, and features reporting on trends like the collaboration of universities and public radio stations. There’s already an excellent publication in this space called Current, and Public Pulse is a welcome addition to that.

Ellen has a Quick Take on a big award going to MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. The nonprofit Memphis news outlet, which we profile in our book, “What Works in Community News,” will receive the Lorraine Branham IDEA Award from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. We discuss other media criticism up for awards as well.

Dan gives a shoutout to a New Hampshire news project previously featured on the podcast. InDepthNH recently revealed some pretty disturbing details about a state representative — and it came only after a four-year quest to obtain public records. It demonstrates why journalists need to be persistent.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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WNET cuts force NJ Spotlight News to trim its staff; plus, E&P unveils public media vertical

NJ Spotlight News is based at NJ PBS in Newark. Photo (cc) 2022 by Dan Kennedy.

The ongoing shakeout in public media continues. The trade publication Current reported earlier this month that WNET, the nonprofit giant that controls public radio and television stations in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey, has eliminated 34 positions since December.

Among the operations affected is NJ Spotlight News, a hybrid operation comprising a website covering public policy and politics in New Jersey and a daily newscast that is broadcast on NJ PBS. Spotlight executive director John Mooney told me that the cuts resulted in “a couple layoffs” at his organization. Spotlight is also one of the projects that we profile in our book, “What Works in Community News,” and Current ran an excerpt in December.

Until very recently, public media had seemed largely insulated from the economic pressures that have affected other sectors of the news business, especially newspapers. In rapid succession, though, layoffs have hit a number of outlets, including Colorado Public Radio (also briefly profiled in “What Works”), WAMU in Washington and NPR itself. Boston’s two public broadcasters, WBUR and GBH, have also said they may have to reduce staff.

• E&P goes public (media). Current itself is about to get some competition. Editor & Publisher, a trade publication that covers the news business, announced this week that it is starting a vertical aimed at covering public media. E&P publisher Mike Blinder said in a press release:

We spent most of 2023 assessing the state of public media through editorial reporting and interviews with executives managing local public media operations across the U.S. We recognize that these key executives have been underserved in accessing essential information to continue building audience and revenue.

E&P’s venture, called Public Pulse, is free, whereas Current is paywalled. Current, though, has a reputation for being well-sourced and authoritative. We’re going to talk with Blinder about Public Pulse on the “What Works” podcast in an episode that should drop around the middle of next week.

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What public media can learn from NJ Spotlight News: An excerpt from our book

John Mooney, founder and executive director of NJ Spotlight News. Photo (cc) 2022 by Dan Kennedy.

Ellen Clegg and I are delighted to report that the first excerpt from “What Works in Community News” has just gone live at Current, a publication for people in public media. Current has published a section from our chapter on NJ Spotlight News, which merged a digital startup covering state policy and politics in New Jersey and the state’s public television outlet, NJ PBS. “What Works in Community News,” published by Beacon Press, goes public on Jan. 9. And thank you to Mike Janssen, Current’s digital editor, for making this happen.

Read the excerpt at Current.

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Public radio and the local news crisis

Current, a publication that serves people in the public media system, has published Thomas Patterson’s important essay on how public radio can ease the local news crisis, as well as my response.

The pieces are behind a pretty high paywall, but you can read Patterson’s essay for free here and my response here.

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