News and Views

Covering Congress: Watch Dog the Lawmakers

Jun 17, 2014
Andy Withers

Why does covering Congress matter? Here's how Todd Zwillich, Washington correspondent for "The Takeaway" answers that question:  "Lack of (civic) engagement is the corrupt politician's most powerful tool." In other words, if the media don't keep an eye on the people's business, it's good news for those who want to sneak through corrupt agendas. 

Zwillich joined NPR Congressional reporter Ailsa Chang and Matt Laslo, who files stories about Congress for NPR and 40 of its member stations, for a lively PRNDI session on "Covering Congress." 

Tom Check

The NPR Arts Desk eludes many and embraces few.

"I'm never particularly interested in a 'this is happening' story," said Tom Cole, who's been editor of the desk for more than two decades.

Cole, along with NPR reporter Neda Ulaby, kicked off the PRNDI "NPR Arts Desk" session with an open discussion about how they operate. While everyone's questions were unique, they all seemed to be asking the same thing: What will make you pick my story?

Reporters and news directors are constantly seeking the hidden formula that will deliver their arts features to a national audience, but in reality there simply isn't one. It's about a solid pitch, great sound, and national relevance. Advance obits and book pieces don't hurt either. 

  PRNDI President George Bodarky is presenting the annual report to members for discussion at the business meeting at the conference in Washington, DC, on Saturday, June 20, at 12:15 p.m. 

The report outlines the organization's goals and details the major successes of the past year, including:

  • development of a full-day training session at the upcoming RTDNA/SPJ conference in Nashville;
  • al la carte trainings in vocal coaching, reporting, and management available to public media newsrooms;
  • the launch of a certification program for new and aspiring news managers;
  • efforts to expand the PRNDI membership. 

View and download the full report.

Public radio stations and independent producers will now have guidance for negotiating rates to support creation of local stories, thanks to the efforts of a task force created by AIR and PRNDI  last fall.

AIR has also developed a new contract template designed expressly for station and freelancers. Together, these new resources support stations seeking to tap public media’s talent pool to strengthen their local position, and the interests of freelancers looking to expand their opportunities to contribute to public media outlets and reach new listeners.

AIR and PRNDI Stoke Local News Fire

Oct 30, 2013

AIR will partner with Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI) to develop resources designed to encourage and support public radio stations and independent producers interested in working more closely together.

AIR has tapped veteran journalist Susan Capelouto to lead the effort, which begins this week. Capelouto, a long-standing AIR member and former news director for Georgia Public Broadcasting, most recently served as an editor for CNN Radio.

A 2012 study led by media consultant and AIR member Michael Marcotte brought insight into the capacity of local newsrooms. His comprehensive survey revealed mixed results on local content production. Nearly half the surveyed stations produce an hour or less of local news programming per weekday. At the other end of the spectrum, a quarter of the stations produce 2½ hours or more of programming each day.

Marguerite Nutter, NPR

This is the true story of eight colleagues who chose to live in a house, to prepare meals together, work to plan a conference and other training sessions, to find out what happens when News Directors get out of the newsroom...and devote their full attention to plotting a course for the future of PRNDI and its members.

The role of a News Director is not an easy one.  Every day can pose a new challenge.  

On any given day, we might find ourselves up against a breaking news situation we never faced before, or dealing with a problem employee who is bringing the morale of the entire newsroom down several notches.   The days can be long, and sometimes just when we shut down the computer, something comes up that keeps us in the office hours later.  But, with these challenges, come countless rewards.  We take pride in comprehensive election night coverage, helping a new reporter get their first feature on the network, and producing investigative journalism that leads to real change in the communities we serve.

The Poynter Institute has just launched a blog covering ethics. It's written by Kelly McBride, and, as she describes, it is  "dedicated to examining how the transformation of media is changing the ethics of journalism."McBride offers three guiding principles and asks journalists to "debate and debunk" them. 

Here's an excerpt describing why she thinks we need a fresh look at ethics:

PRNDI Re-Cued: City Club of Cleveland

Jun 24, 2013

Public Radio News Directors, Inc. Presents "Breaking News and Getting it Right,"

This panel discussion includes:

John Dinges, Formerly with NPR, was a special correspondent for Time, Washington Post and ABC Radio in Chile. With a group of Chilean journalists, he co-founded the Chilean magazine APSO. Since 1996 he is associate professor and director of radio at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

PRNDI Re-Cued: Protecting Reporters from Stress

Jun 24, 2013

Introduction by Charles Compton, news director WEKU Radio, at PRNDI's 2013 Conference in Cleveland's Idea Center: Engineers take care of our equipment.  Our expenses are handled by business managers.  And the IT person keeps our computers humming.  But, in most cases, only news directors take care of reporters.