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Public Broadcasting in the News

MacArthur Foundation to Give
 $500 million to Local News Effort

A coalition of philanthropies led by the MacArthur Foundation is offering $500 million as a lifeline to struggling local news operations, The Washington Post reported. It is the largest single philanthropic commitment to journalism to date. 

NPR’s CEO Announces He’ll Step Down 

NPR chief executive John Lansing announced he will retire at the end of 2023, capping a four-year tenure. The announcement came after what NPR’s David Folkenflik described as “months of turbulence and turnover at the network’s highest levels, with many key positions vacant, newly filled, or held by someone on a temporary basis.” 

Antolini Out At WVPB, APT Announces Board Changes

West Virginia Public Broadcasting chief executive Carl “Butch” Antolini stepped down from his post after a year on the job, report AP and The Cumberland Times-News. Antolini’s departure follows reported upheaval at the state-funded news outlet, including the firing of a reporter who wrote negative stories involving a state agency, the PBS Public Editor wrote earlier this year. In other news, American Public Television announced two leadership changes and the appointment of a new member to its Board of Trustees. 

News Deserts

Do you live in a ‘news desert’? The University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism looks at the growing gaps in news coverage left by the closures of local newspapers around the country.  The report is available here

American Newspapers Keep Closing and ‘News Deserts’ Keep Growing

(June 29, 2022) Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan writes that one-third of U.S. newspapers will that existed two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public from Northwestern University’s Medill School. 

Link to media release about the study and related multimedia downloads here.

Nonprofit Newsrooms a Promising New Model for Local News, Writes Margaret Sullivan

(Jan. 22, 2022) Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan writes that nonprofit newsrooms like the Texas Tribune, show promise as a prospective new model for struggling local news. 

Family-run Iowa Newspaper Spotlighted in PBS Doc About Local Journalism

A documentary about the struggles of local journalism – think newspapers that cover the daily news of a town like Storm Lake, Iowa (population: 10,000) – airs the week of Nov. 15 on PBS. The Storm Lake Times, the subject of the film, is the second smallest news organization ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. It fills a vital need in this rural community.  Poynter has a write-up on the project, as does The Houston Press

Nonprofit Newsrooms Increasingly Filling Local News Void

The latest Institute for Nonprofit News survey, known as the INN Index, found that a growing portion of nonprofit newsrooms are dedicated to local public affairs, Neiman Labs reported. 

When Texas Border Town Lost Its Only Paper, Local Start-up Filled Void

When the Southwestern border town of Del Rio, Texas, lost its only newspaper, a local man stepped in with an investment in print, turning his event-oriented website into a news outlet with a print edition. He’s helping fight back against the encroaching edges of a news desert.

...more on 'News Deserts' and what PBS can do about them (older coverage)

Against the growing phenomena of news deserts in the United States – areas where local news outlets have failed or have been gutted by the loss of ad revenue – PBS is being called upon to act. One suggested remedy is overhauling the way the Corporation for Public Broadcasting issues grants for public affairs programming, from a Washington, DC -based metric to spending decided by local news producers. ...

Why ‘Withering’ of Local News Landscape is Dangerous for Democracy 

(Sept. 1, 2020) PBS NewsHour interviews media critic Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post about so-called news deserts and what they mean for U.S. democracy.