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Public Broadcasting in the News

Congress Takes Swipe at Twitter Over ‘State-Run’ Media Label Removal

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk made one camp angry after he apparently capitulated to another’s wishes, pleasing neither. The Hill reports that a congressional committee expressed consternation after Musk stripped “state-funded media” and similar warnings from the Twitter accounts of Chinese propaganda organizations. That move was coupled with the reversal of an earlier, controversial decision to lump U.S. public broadcasters like NPR and PBS with known propaganda outlets like Russia Today and China Daily with tags denoting government support. NPR, PBS and others pushed back and Musk seemed to have relented -- and then some. Now Congress isn’t happy that bona fide propaganda groups will be treated the same as legitimate news outlets.   

Twitter Removes ‘Government-Funded’ Labels from Media Accounts

Twitter quietly removed a controversial “government-funded media” label from the PBS main Twitter account sometime within the past several days. The Washington Post reported that the social media platform last Thursday removed similar tags from NPR and the BBC after pushback from those organizations, although it did not mention PBS. 

GBH Launching ‘Newsroom Without Walls’ in DEI Pilot

Boston’s GBH, along with The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, became part of a Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education pilot that will be “radically inclusive,” the PBS member station said, reported Current

PBS Quits Twitter Over ‘Government Funded Media’ Label

PBS suspended its posts on Twitter after Elon Musk’s company labeled its account “government funded media.” The public television broadcaster joins NPR, which ceased using Twitter over the same label, which both broadcasters maintain is inaccurate. 

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.