NPR enlists allies to fill news gap


Sensing a loss of important local coverage from commercial media, NPR is jumping into the breech with funding help from CPB and the Knight Foundation. The concept will key on use of the internet and content sharing.

The project is basically a pilot program that will enable an as-yet-undetermined dozen or so NPR stations to “expand original reporting, and to curate, distribute and share online content about high-interest, specialized subjects.”

CPB is kicking in $2M to get the project started, and another $1M is coming from Knight.

The idea is to get the stations to go local, and to become experts in at least one area, and the results will be shared. “Each will focus exclusively on reporting and aggregating news about a topic relevant to that city, based upon its geography and unique characteristics. Stations will feed their work into NPR’s content management system, where the entire group of participants will have easy access to each others’ work to inform, enrich and add context as they create and present their stories. This common content sharing infrastructure provides a solid platform to support stations’ online publishing needs and to expand the power of the network.”

A number of public broadcasting organizations and radio stations were credited with developing the program, including Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland), Northern California Public Broadcasting/KQED (San Francisco), WGBH (Boston) and KPBS (San Diego) –  and radio stations: Southern California Public Radio/KPCC (Los Angeles), KALW, (San Francisco), KPLU (Seattle), WAMU (Washington D.C.), WXPN (Philadelphia), Wyoming Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, WNYC (New York), and WBUR (Boston).

RBR-TVBR observation: The non-profit community clearly senses a vacuum being created in the news universe by the economically challenged private media, and it’s starting to take steps to fill the void. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for a number of reasons a publicly-funded journalism model is not at all attractive. For a truly vibrant journalism universe, the private sector will have to get its act together, and sooner or later, somebody’s going to figure out how to make the numbers work and will do just that.