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Posts Tagged ‘Linda Winslow’

PBS ‘NewsHour Weekend’ Readies For Launch

This weekend, the “PBS NewsHour” expands to weekends (and to New York City), with the debut of “PBS Newshour Weekend.” Anchored by Hari Sreenivasan, the weekend edition of the iconic evening news program will be shortened to half an hour (yes, a half-hour “NewsHour”), and will be produced by New York City PBS station WNET.

“It is an expression of continuity and change. One of the discussions I had with ["NewsHour" EP Linda Winslow] early on was about that. Are we looking for continuity or change?,” the weekend program’s executive producer Marc Rosenwasser says, sitting in a conference room at the WNET offices in midtown Manhattan. ”The answer we came up with was both.”

“The line we have to walk is between upholding the very rich traditions of the ‘NewsHour,’ which we respect tremendously and the nation respects tremendously as this great, valuable brand that has an almost unique place contextualizing and analyzing the news,” he added. “At the same time, moving forward as many weekend shows at all the networks work, as kind of a laboratory too.”

For the new team in New York and the “NewsHour” team in DC, the challenge is keeping the spirit of the weekday program, while simultaneously expanding its boundaries.

“It is still pretty rare to have 40-year long brands that have lasted,” Sreenivasan says. “Sure, we could use a few million more dollars, but we have somehow managed to survive in the marketplace, even with all the commercial competition, even with the current landscape.”

That isn’t to say there haven’t been hiccups along the way.

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‘PBS NewsHour’ Lays Off Staff In Reorganization

The “PBS NewsHour” is laying off staff in a significant reorganization, TVNewser has learned.

According to an internal memo obtained by TVNewser, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions–which produces the “NewsHour”–will be shutting down its offices in Denver and San Francisco, eliminating nearly all the positions there. The company will also eliminate several production positions in its Washington DC office, while leaving two open senior-level roles unfilled.The “NewsHour” is also planning to save money by streamlining and digitizing its technical process.

“This difficult step comes after more than a year spent reviewing how the ‘NewsHour’ functions, and determining the streamlining necessary to address both the funding challenges (primarily a steady drop in corporate revenue) and the opportunities presented by new technologies,” wrote “NewsHour” EP Linda Winslow and MacNeil/Lehrer president Bo Jones in the memo to staff.

The changes will go into effect at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1. None of the affected staffers were named in the email, but TVNewser hears that one of those departing is San Francisco correspondent Spencer Michels, who started reporting for the program 30 years ago.

While the program will still maintain in-house crews, the “NewsHour” will rely more on freelance contributions going forward.

“Along with sending our own teams in the field, we anticipate building new relationships with a variety of locally-based freelance video journalists around the country,” Winslow wrote to staff. “Under no circumstances do we intend to abandon the mini-documentary reports that have become so critical to our broadcast. The NewsHour remains committed to delivering the same kind of in-depth reporting our viewers and supporters expect from us.”
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Jim Lehrer: ‘I have no regrets about saying what I did, or about changing my mind’

Read my lips. No more debates.

Jim Lehrer didn’t use those words, but he might as well have. Lehrer’s November pronouncement that he would never host another presidential debate, like George H. W. Bush’s 1988 promise of no new taxes, turned out to be far from absolute.

With one major difference, according to PBS’s Lehrer. “There were consequences for him. There are no consequences for me.”

Lehrer will moderate the first Obama-Romney debate, Oct. 3 in Denver. It will be the 12th such event for Lehrer, 78, who last year retired as anchor of “NewsHour.” (For the first time since 1972, he won’t be the face of PBS at the national conventions.)

When members of the Commission of Presidential Debates asked Lehrer to re-consider, he said, Shermanesquely: “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.” When the group pitched a new debate format, however, ‘never’ became too long to wait.

Despite the 180, Lehrer insists his conscience is clear.

“I have no regrets about saying what I did, or about changing my mind,” he says. “I am a regret-free person. I meant it when I said it at the time. I had no idea there would be a new format. Life is an ever-changing windstorm, and I’m a part of life.

“I didn’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want to moderate a presidential debate.’ There was a long, long buildup. I didn’t change. The circumstances changed. I wouldn’t have considered it for any other reason.”

The selection of Lehrer, along with that of CBS’s Bob Schieffer, CNN’s Candy Crowley and ABC’s Martha’s Raddatz has drawn heavy criticism from blacks and Hispanics for its absence of racial diversity. Others have accused the moderators of being too liberal and/or too mainstream.

To Lehrer, with half a century in the news business, it’s all background noise.

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‘PBS NewsHour’ Names Tom Kennedy Managing Editor of Digital News

Tom Kennedy has been tapped to lead online news operations for “PBS NewsHour” as managing editor of digital news.

Kennedy will begin at “NewsHour” in June. He is currently on the faculty at Syracuse University, where he teaches multimedia storytelling and visual journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He also works as a media consultant for corporations and non-profits. He previously was managing editor for multimedia of the Washington Post‘s website.

“Tom is a great addition to the NewsHour team,” executive producer Linda Winslow said in a statement. “This job calls for a creative journalist with editorial and management skills, and Tom is that person.”

PBS’ Newshour Looks to be “More Engaging” With Format Makeover

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The NYTimes’ Elizabeth Jensen writes about the changes coming to PBS’ long-running nightly newscast, “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.”

Mr. Lehrer, who will turn 75 next Tuesday, isn’t stepping down. But in September the program will be retitled “PBS NewsHour” and return to a two-anchor format, which it had until 1995, when Robert MacNeil left.
Linda Winslow, the executive producer of “NewsHour,” said the changes will be made for a simple reason: “What we were trying to accomplish was a more engaging program.”

Jensen reports that Lehrer will be joined by one of three co-anchors from the show’s current team: Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff or Jeffrey Brown. Winslow is quick to add, “This is not a succession plan in disguise.” Having two anchors will “shake things up a little bit,” says Lehrer. The show will also add a newsreader, much like the broadcast network morning shows.

The one-hour show will also be formatted into segments for those who can’t, or don’t watch all the way through. Winslow says, “Each piece has to be individual and watchable.” Jensen reports the show will also merge its online and broadcast news desks, and send correspondents Margaret Warner and Ray Suarez into the field more often.

“Newspapers are thinning, and television has its own crisis,” says Lehrer. “I became a fanatic about the idea that those of us who are in the business of serious journalism, we have to do more.”