PBS NewsHour Changes – An Insider’s Look

My fiancee and I are big fans of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I recognize how geeky this makes us (being “big fans” and all), but we’re pretty dialed in to non-apoplectic news coverage, and we really enjoy the balance and depth of coverage that the NewsHour offers.

We comment on Jim’s usually excellent choice of ties, we tune in on Fridays to catch analysis by Shields and Brooks (and we’re Canadians!), and we hold the NewsHour up as an example of what news coverage should be (along with CBC’s National and BBC’s World Report).

So I read Anna Shoup’s piece on the changes at PBS, and the new iterations of its website, with interest and fascination (found out about the piece courtesy of Will Sullivan’s Journerdism site). It is not often that you get an insider’s candid take on the shifts inside a major media outlet, especially when the insider is a multimedia content producer who is be integrated into the larger media framework. That in itself is a bit of a switch-up from what’s happening in other news rooms.

Ms Shoup’s report suggests a progressive mindset in the NewsHour bullpen, but she’s still open about the grinding gears that sometimes happen when two carefully crafted machines try to mesh. Whether the new media shifts at the NewsHour are a result of progressive thinking – or merely survival – I think is irrelevant. In the current media climate, any steps that do not hold fast to the conventional broadcast model should be seen as progressive, simply because they are not status quo, or (worse) trying to regress to the sunnier times of media monopoly.

Basically, people are consuming the news differently. The NewsHour has always been able to cut through the media static to report solidly on essential issues, and their decision to more fully integrate multimedia elements and web-based pieces into their broadcast model is one that I’ll be watching with interest.

The NewsHour will launch their new website on December 3rd, and the new iteration of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (re-branded as PBS NewsHour) will debut on December 7th. Perhaps it, like the NewsHour’s coverage itself, will be a litmus test that other news organizations can learn from.

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