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Public TV Moving into Local News: Cuts in Coverage by Hometown Papers Inspire 'Local Journalism Centers'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Public TV Moving into Local News: Cuts in Coverage by Hometown Papers Inspire 'Local Journalism Centers'

Article excerpt

THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC Broadcasting (CPB), best known for presenting national documentary programs such as Frontline, is moving to report local news, saying cutbacks at newspapers have cut into hometown coverage. In a partnership with PBS and NPR, CPB is launching a new project that will create "Local Journalism Centers" across the country.

CPB kicked in $10.5 million to jump-start five centers--with two more in sight--divided by regions of the Southwest, the Plains, Upstate New York, Upper Midwest and Central Florida. Centers are also planned for the South and Northwest. With the funding, the centers are hiring reporters, editors and social media adepts.

The idea, explains CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison, is to enable these centers to "do a really deep dive and impact the region" and to "engage with communities."

The timing of these projects couldn't have come at a better time, says Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS: "We have been very interested in trying to seed journalism at the local level." Mass layoffs by newspapers both created local news coverage voids and a pool of recruits for the centers. "There are very talented people who need a place, and we plan to bring in some print journalists. It's the right moment," she adds.

Each regional center is dedicated to exploring one area of interest. The Southwest Center, for example, is focusing on cultural shifts and border issues among Latinos and Native Americans in a project called "Fronteras: The Changing American Desk." The center involves the participation of stations KJZZ in Phoenix, KPBS in San Diego, Nevada Public Radio, KRWG in southwest New Mexico and far-west Texas, Texas Public Radio, KUAX in Tucson, Ariz. …

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