News and Views

All Things Football: Sideline Reporting Public Radio Style

Oct 28, 2014

"Innovate or die" is one way to describe my approach to journalism. This past August, that meant hosting Georgia Public Broadcasting's All Things Considered live from a Friday night high school football game.

Another piece of this experiment was covering a half hour with a local special about -- you guessed it -- football. Naturally, it would become All Things Football.

The structure of public radio newsrooms is changing. And that’s prompting PRNDI, a.k.a. Public Radio News Directors, Inc., to revisit its bylaws, which layout the organization’s objectives, who it represents, and the balance of power in the organization. The newly formed Bylaws Committee, which I am chairing, is looking at drafting revisions for consideration by the general membership at the conference in Salt Lake City this June. 

Society of Professional Journalists

As the nature of our industry rapidly evolves, what does the future hold for journalism organizations, like Public Radio News Directors Incorporated?  That’s a question we’re asking ourselves as we take a very hard look at PRNDI’s bylaws.  

PRNDI is not alone in contemplating its future. Many journalism organizations are faced with similar issues.  That’s why 19 organizations, including PRNDI, got together for a leadership summit at this year’s Excellence in Journalism Conference in Nashville, TN. The session was led by the American Copy Editors Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. We talked about the challenges our organizations face and what we might be able to do collectively to advocate for journalists and advance quality journalism.

Takeaways from PRPD: Best Practices for New Clocks

Sep 21, 2014
Behold: the new NPR magazine clocks.
Jonathan Ahl

NPR member stations around the country are working feverishly to figure out how they will insert local content and cover the breaks in the new clocks for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and the weekend news magazines.  

Determining and implementing the best practices for using the new clocks was the topic of a breakout session at the PRPD Conference in Portland, OR on Sept.10.

My name is George and my station dropped NPR newscasts.

When I was first confronted with that proposal, I was like, “we’re considering doing what???”

But, once I got over the initial shock, I took a very hard look at the facts, and seized it as an opportunity to grow WFUV’s news presence. 

First of all, WFUV is Triple A station. By and large listeners come to us for music. That’s not to say our listeners simply want to bury their heads in the playlist and ignore the fact that the world is revolving around them as they catch the latest from Mumford and Sons. Our listeners are life-long learners who want to be in the know about current events, including when news breaks during the day.

So why drop NPR newscasts?

Eliminating NPR headlines did lead to a cost savings of about $50,000 a year. But, that wasn’t the motivating factor. As I mentioned, WFUV is a music station, and the station wanted to increase focus on music programming.

“We were concerned with our ability to retain audience when we cut to three minutes of news each hour across the day, “said WFUV General Manager, Chuck Singleton. “Of course, this was also informed by (and made less of a risk) by our awareness of the experience of our peers in music format stations; we were one of the last to retain the hourly newscasts.”

KETR-FM is a university licensee in Commerce, TX located in Hunt County about 65 miles northeast of Dallas. The 100,000-watt station serves eight counties but has just one full-time news reporter and host. So the station has recruited staffers at nearby newspapers to help fill out local newscasts. 

“Our staff is short,” said KETR General Manager Jerrod Knight. “Having active newsroom participants with a home base in the various communities we serve is one of the best ways, and at times, the only way, to get at that information.”

The relationship between NPR news and member station newsrooms took center stage at the recent PRNDI conference in Washington, D.C. During their session members of the “Collaborative Coverage Project” team assembled by NPR — Kelley Griffin of Colorado Public Radio, John Dankosky of WNPR, Scott Finn of West Virginia Public Radio, and Vickie Walton-James of NPR — shared some of the ideas that have emerged since the project got going in March of this year. 

A “True Network” 

Anatomy of an NPR Newscast

Jun 21, 2014
Renée Johnson

Putting together an NPR newscast takes at least a four person team - anchor/reporter, tape cutter, producer and editor. At PRNDI's "Newscasting NPR-Style" session, we heard from four NPR anchors and an executive producer about how they each contribute to the final product. 

NPR's executive producer, Robert Garcia, moderated the panel of anchors, including Korva Coleman, Lakshmi Singh, Jamie McIntyre and Jack Speer. Garcia showcased one anchor at a time. He played one of the anchors' best newscasts before letting the audience Q&A from them.

Gonzalo Baeza

The days of lugging around heavy recording equipment could soon be long gone. 

With new apps coming out and old ones being updated every day, smartphones are becoming more capable of capturing, editing, and sharing audio, video, and photos. WTOP reporter and technology editor Neal Augenstein is an expert on using smartphones for start-to-finish reporting, so much so that his old iPhone is on display at The Newseum. Attendees of Augenstein's breakout session, "Smartphone Reporting," had the opportunity to pick the reporter's brain and learn about all things iPhone.

Reporting On Diverse Communities: Avoiding the Obvious

Jun 21, 2014
Photo by Stephano Corso

It’s no secret that public radio has a diversity issue; diversity in our newsrooms and diversity in our content. News outlets are making efforts to be more inclusive in the reporters they hire and the stories they tell. But that opens up a whole new set of issues: How do you tell stories about a community you aren’t a part of? Is it the job of the reporters from those communities to tell those stories? And what exactly are we talking about when we refer to “diversity?”  A conversation between PRNDI attendees and Tara Gatewood (UNITY) and Hansi Lo Wang (NPR’s Code Switch) at the session entitled "Reporting from Diverse Communities" touched mostly on race and ethnicity, though there are many types of diversity including religious, economic, and gender.

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