CPB Media Room

Public Media Organizations Join Forces to Provide Multi-Platform, Comprehensive Coverage of Economic Crisis

  • May 22, 2009

NPR and The NewsHour To Lead Editorial Efforts

Washington, D.C. -- The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced a grant to support cooperatively produced content on the economic crisis, leveraging public media's local-national structure and editorial expertise. Twelve public media organizations have formed a tightly linked collaboration to serve the public's need for comprehensive, thoughtful editorial coverage of wide-ranging stories on the American economy and its global implications.

NPR and The NewsHour will lead the collaboration. Partners include: PBS, PRX, PRI's The World, Marketplace (American Public Media), Nightly Business Report, Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI), Capitol News Connection, Public Interactive (PI), WNYC, and KQED. Multimedia content, including audio, video, blogs, podcasts, widgets and more will be available to all public broadcasting stations. Stations will play an essential role in customizing and delivering this content as well as in engaging their communities by using these resources. The public will be able to access the content through a project web site at www.economystory.org, as well as on partner web sites.

"We are pleased to build on the success of last year's election collaboration. Public service media has a long and distinguished record as a trusted source of information and reliable service to communities throughout our nation, and now we are working together in new ways to have even more impact," said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of CPB.

"This unique collaboration harnesses the formidable news assets across all of public media to inform the American people about important economic issues in their community -- and around the world, "added Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of NPR. "The fact that we're offering content across different platforms means we'll be able to reach a truly global and diverse audience."

The partners will leverage public media's unique local/national structure, connect and engage with audiences online, and uncover and explain the economic crisis from a local, national and global perspective. Other components to the collaboration include an economic literacy campaign from all partners, an expanded Knowledge Network infrastructure, and a social media marketing effort.

The Local & National View

NPR: A dedicated editorial team will model new ways for stations and national programs and web producers to share information, expertise, and content. Reporters from twenty-two Member stations across the country have been awarded fellowships and will undergo week-long business and economics reporting workshops at NPR West. Participating stations will commission stories from each other; the NPR editor will be available to work with station reporters to help provide national context to local stories. The entire body of work will be available for on-air and online presentation by NPR, participating stations, and users of the NPR API.

NewsHour: NewsHour will leverage grant funds to supplement a new series of cross-platform collaborations with local stations, as well as with a new partner, the Christian Science Monitor, with whom they will create an online county-by-county economic map of the nation. NewsHour has developed a list of local station reporters, public affairs producers and news directors who can serve as its eyes and ears in communities throughout the country, along with citizen bloggers. This pool of experts will flag story ideas for the NewsHour as well as appear in periodic reports on the economic climate around the country.

Marketplace: Marketplace plans a series of on-air and online features that explore the wealth gap in the American economy and what degree of distribution of wealth is best for a healthy economy and society. Reporters will explain what the wealth gap is, tell the story of how the gap between rich and poor has changed over the last few generations, and report on the impact of the financial crisis on the wealth gap. Marketplace will also use its blog --The Scratchpad -- to track the coverage of the economic crisis throughout media, and they will produce a radio series on Americans' relationship with credit.

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI): Youth Radio will contribute young voices and stories of particular interest to younger audiences on-air and online. Youth and adult teams will work together to create online tools and resources to help young people understand and navigate 'the crisis.' Youth participants will prioritize the economic problems that need to be addressed, and lead the conception and design of solution tools, and the project partners will integrate these stories into their coverage.

The Global View

Public Radio International: PRI's The World will explore the changing relationship between the U.S. economy and the global one (including keeping track of where the investment capital needed in the U.S. comes from internationally); it will examine the emergence of relatively new economic giants like India and China, and explore how trade with those nations could affect the future course of America's economy; it will also explore the lessons the United States could learn from other countries that have handled economic downturns in the past. PRI will also aggregate its economic coverage and make it available across public media, creating a rich array of internationally and nationally focused reporting that partners can harvest for use on their respective sites.

Online Initiatives

PBS: PBS Interactive will leverage its existing infrastructure and interactive tools to provide economy-related, curated video content from its programs and producers. This includes an extensive lineup of news and public affairs programs such as FRONTLINE, Washington Week, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, NOW, Bill Moyers Journal and content produced by PBS member stations. PBS will also create an embeddable video player of this content that all station and partner organizations can use on their sites, adding a powerful video feature to public media sites and giving smaller-resourced stations another tangible online product. PBS Teachers will create an online exploration of the economy to help guide educators and engage students.

WNYC: Through the projects Shovelwatch and Your Uncommon Economic Indicators, WNYC is engaging audiences and communities to actively monitor, share, and report on the impacts of the crisis on their home states, towns, and neighborhoods, while helping WNYC and a network of national partners to watchdog the stimulus package and ultimately demand more transparency and accountability from our leaders. Shovelwatch is dedicated to watch-dogging the transparency, allocation, spending, and utilization of the economic stimulus package and Your Uncommon Economic Indicators is a multi-platform, hyper-local crowdsourcing and community engagement project built upon local, grass-roots, intelligence about stories of economic activity. WNYC will help other markets roll out these projects for their communities.

Nightly Business Report: Nightly Business Report will expand the "How the Economy Works" section of its web site to include a blog and a series of "Funny Money" video features, designed to draw people in and get them thinking about the interrelationships within the economy. NBR will also expand its "Riding Out the Storm" online feature to include user generated video. The citizen-generated stories will help others cope with the economic crisis, and questions posed through the feature will be answered by NBR's stable of personal finance experts.

KQED: A visually reworked You Decide project will focus on a series of economic policy debates, allowing visitors to weigh the pros and cons of different policy options facing the government and individuals. Several adaptations will be made based on lessons learned from user feedback and metrics, as well as to fit the topic. The 2009 You Decide upgrades will introduce informational graphics to enable the user to weigh the quantitative data that informs economic issues, posing "yes" and "no" response questions, multiple choice questions, and questions that ask users to make numeric choices.

Capitol News Connection: Capitol News Connection will build on the work of its "Ask Your Lawmaker" project, creating a series of interactive opportunities for partners to encourage Web visitors to press their member of Congress or Congressional leaders on economic policy questions before the legislature. In addition, CNC will produce a weekly half-hour economic podcast on issues before Congress that can be also edited and used on-air as economic reports or interstitial content.

PRX: PRX will aggregate and curate timely economy-related public radio content from local stations, independent producers, national networks and news sources outside public media into an audio archive on PRX.org that stations can draw upon for their on-air programming.

Public Interactive: Public Interactive, a division of NPR, will also aggregate and curate locally-produced economy coverage from its member stations and provide feeds of the content that can be used on other sites or be built into third-party widgets and applications. Public Interactive is also managing the collaboration's Knowledge Network, a one-stop shop for the partners' project resources and collaboration opportunities for stations and producers.

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