Future of Journalism Projects
KQED Hacks/Hackers | Tim Olson
During 2009, CPB laid the groundwork for subsequent innovative investments to strengthen public media journalism—especially at a local level, but also in an integrated ecosystem of local, regional, national, and international coverage. Among these innovations in public media journalism are the following:
Project Argo
CPB appointed NPR to work with a pilot group of 12 NPR and PBS stations that will use $2 million in CPB funding to hire and train professional and citizen journalists in expanding original reporting and to curate, distribute, and share online content about high-interest, specialized subjects. The two-year pilot program, which also received $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will help the stations establish themselves as definitive sources of news and educational content on a major topic of interest, such as the economy, health care, immigration, or education. Each station will launch a Web site for its “content verticals,” providing a centralized source of in-depth and comprehensive reporting that all public media stations can use to deepen their own news coverage. The sites will share a platform that includes a common set of tools (blogging, social media, aggregation, and search) and a common content repository. In addition, the PBS NewsHour (formerly The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer) will share its embeddable video player with the pilot participants, making it possible for them to access and present video content from NewsHour, Frontline, Now, Washington Week, Bill Moyers Journal, Tavis Smiley, and about a dozen local PBS stations. The NewsHour will also feature selected reporting from the participating stations on its Web site.
Local Journalism Centers
Responding to the contraction of local journalism, public media stations are pooling resources to create seven Local Journalism Centers (LJCs) that enhance their capacity to produce multimedia coverage on focused topics of regional interest.
Each of the LJCs—which are distributed throughout the country—will hire its own journalists and editors, a diverse work force that will report on specific subject areas. For instance, the Southwest LJC will focus on the region’s cultural and demographic shifts and on immigration and border control issues. Other centers will specialize in economic redevelopment, agribusiness, and health care. A regional consortium of stations, the largest of which spans five states, will back each center. LJC content will be offered to other public media outlets and the public through digital media and broadcast platforms.
With a $10.5 million investment by CPB and up to 37 participating stations, this innovative grassroots collaboration will leverage public broadcasting’s journalistic resources, giving America’s communities the breadth and depth of news and information they need to make informed decisions. The LJCs are expected to become self-supporting after two years.
Public Insight Journalism
Public Insight Journalism allows Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) to find the best sources and the best information. Advancements in digital technology have enabled MPR to create its Public Insight Network, a group of approximately 75,000 Minnesotans who share their observations, knowledge, and expertise with MPR, which then distills it in a central database and passes it on to its reporters and editors, who may follow up with a request for more information or perhaps an interview. By giving its reporters access to first-person information and sources, both MPR and the community it serves profit from new story ideas, a wider range of perspectives and information on undercovered or emerging issues.

Our Non-Licensee Partner(s)

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami, Florida—A private, not-for-profit foundation dedicated to promoting journalism and supporting the vitality of the 26 communities where the Knight Brothers owned newspapers. The foundation distributes most funding among its core journalism, communities, and national programs. Since 2007, the foundation has branched out to help define—and propose new ways to meet—the information needs of communities in a democracy. It has invested $100 million in an initiative addressing media innovation on various levels, including national media policy, technology innovation, and the evolution of the World Wide Web. Projects such as the Knight News Challenge, and others, have to date spawned more than 100 media experiments.

MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, Arlington, Virginia—A private, for-profit company that co-produces the week-nightly, hourlong, live news program The PBS NewsHour (with WETA, in association with Thirteen/WNET) and hosts a news Web site, Online NewsHour. Liberty Media—another for-profit media company—owns a major stake in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. The show was the first hourlong broadcast of national nightly news; it began in 1973 when Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil anchored public television’s unprecedented, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings. The NewsHour originates from Washington, has a West Coast studio at KQED/San Francisco, and maintains a video production facility in Denver.

NPR (National Public Radio), Washington, D.C.—NPR is an internationally acclaimed producer and distributor of noncommercial news, talk, and entertainment programming. A privately supported, not-for-profit membership organization, NPR produces and distributes programming that reaches more than 26 million listeners weekly. More than 900 stations nationwide broadcast NPR programming; each serves its listeners with a distinctive combination of national and local programming. With original online content and audio streaming, NPR.org offers hourly newscasts, special features, and ten years of archived audio and information. A private, nonprofit corporation owned and operated by its member stations, NPR is funded chiefly by its member stations and a separate fundraising foundation. NPR operates the program distribution/interconnection facilities of the Public Radio Satellite System, produces and distributes more than 120 hours of its own original programming each week, and also distributes to its more than 780 member stations programs that are produced by broadcast stations, independent producers, and other radio networks. NPR maintains studios in Washington, D.C., and in Los Angeles.

PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), Arlington, Virginia—PBS is the leading distributor of video programming for U.S. public television stations. It operates the public television program distribution/interconnection system and distributes a variety of programs, from both its own and others’ program services, to its 348 member public television stations across the country, which draw nearly 83 million viewers weekly. PBS.org is one of the most visited noncommercial Web sites in the world and the home of companion Web sites for more than 1,000 PBS television programs and specials, as well as original content and real-time learning adventures. In addition to its funding from CPB, PBS is funded by its member stations, a separate fundraising foundation, and various for-profit subsidiaries. PBS and Sesame Workshop are partners with Comcast Corporation and HIT Entertainment, PLC, in PBS KIDS Sprout, a for-profit cable and satellite television channel for preschool children, and PBS KIDS Sprout On Demand, a video-on-demand service offering more than 50 hours of programming daily for the same preschool audience, which is distributed on Comcast systems nationwide.

PRI (Public Radio International), Minneapolis, Minnesota—An independent, private, not-for-profit corporation and managing partner of American Public Radio LLC, a satellite radio company, PRI provides more than 400 hours of programming each week, which is broadcast and streamed online by its 726 affiliates nationwide. PRI’s programming is available on XM Public Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.