Call for Entries: Schorr Prize

WBUR Opens Nominations for the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize
The deadline for submissions is Sept 1, 2005.

Jointly sponsored by WBUR and Boston University, the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize honors a news story or segment of significance and quality and celebrates the new generation of journalists in public radio. The piece must have been broadcast on a CPB- qualified public radio station.

The Prize is an award of $5,000 given to a rising journalist in public radio.

The 2002 winner was Karen Brown of WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts, who submitted a documentary on the lives of Cambodian refugees resettling in New England.

The 2003 winner was Marianne McCune of WNYC in New York . Her submission was a documentary on the post-9/11 deportation of two Pakistanis in the U.S. illegally, and the culture shock they experienced upon their return to Pakistan.

In 2004 the Prize winner was Adam Davidson, formerly of Marketplace and currently of NPR. Adam’s work, entitled “Spoils of War”, explored the considerable rise and dollar-value cost of corruption in Iraq.

Details on the Prize criteria and pertinent application forms can be found here.

New Editorial Board Members

June 13, 2005

Hi everyone:

BREAKING NEWS

Kerry Seed, stalwart reviewer, is taking a little leave to concentrate on grant-writing for Blunt Youth work and whatever else he’s got on his plate. We’ll miss him. He’ll be back.

BEGINNING

Two new EB members starting this month:

Phil Corriveau, Director of Radio for Wisconsin Public Radio, is on active EB duty.

Here’s his fine first review of “Who’s Your Daddy,” a Sean Cole piece. And Phil gets gold star for reviewing a timely dad segment well in advance of Father’s Day.

This piece is quite sensual with a first person narrative that is enjoyable to listen to. The pictures that Jenny paints are imaginative and engaging, as she tells the story of her thought process and decisions about having a baby. The pace is relaxed and comfortable, but it doesn’t drag. The style is very much like that of Ira Glass and “This American Life”, with good use of music and introspective story telling. The story is so good that it needed little editing, and was moved along nicely by the producer. The end of the story takes an interesting twist of self-discovery. More than just a piece about a woman’s biological clock, this narrative is an essay of self-exploration as it relates to a woman’s decision to have a child. I listened to the piece several times and liked it more each time, although the ending isn’t quite as strong as the rest of the work because it lost a bit of focus for me. Production values are high, and the overall quality of the piece is excellent.

Independent producer and ex-pat Marjorie Van Halteren was one of PRX’s ten most active reviewers last year, and we’re pleased she’s willing to join the ranks of European EB members.

Words from Marjorie:

I have lived abroad since 1992 — my habitual listening of today is BBC Radio 4, France Inter (French), prx of course (my only real connection with American radio), and I have recently become an i-podder — so I am a former public radio listener gone completely astray and unstuck.

I still continue to produce radio — most recently for the audio art slot Between the Ears on BBC radio 3 (of which I’m particularly proud because it’s very competitive, especially for a non-UK producer), and for Entre Deux Amies, a little production company I’ve put together with my friend Helen Englehardt. The idea is only to make some pieces we feel like making. Plus I’m trying to contribute an American voice from “over there” — and my decision to start producing for the US again was directly inspired by Transom and The Public Radio Exchange.

As a reviewer, I’m not impervious to the problems of programmers. During my producing career in the US I worked at a public radio station for about ten years and know all too well how a station is a hungry beast that must be fed to stay alive. However, I made a personal choice to withdraw from trying to make a living from the radio — because rather than working fast and going for quantity I feel forced to opt instead for the qualities of reflection, time, process, and penetrating to the heart of what I’m doing. So for my own work I will rejoice over the carriage of two stations or 102. I feel I don’t have a choice.

So I would particularly enjoy work that breaks the mold — work that has the audacity to try for art in this “disposable” medium — I have hopes that PRX, with its catalog approach, might be able to keep works around long enough so that something that someone has put so much of their time and reflection into can be heard again and again, however it might deserve.

I have what I admit is a rather annoying prejudice against the idea that radio is a low-rent medium, wherein resides stuff that would adore to be on commercial radio, or in Hollywood or on junk television — except that it just isn’t good enough to compete there for the money available – so it sets its sights lower – on public or community radio – and eats up the small money it can get there. I also hate it when Public Radio puts on airs and sets out rules of style and thinks of itself as “The Big Time.” I prefer so much to hear things that are honest, passionate, authentic, and just plain out there. With the whole thing splintering into a million pieces with point-to-many broadcasting turning into point-to-point broadcasting, the game is over anyway. Enjoy!

Geo Beach rarely awards 5 stars, but always writes thorough, thoughtful reviews. Here’s his 5 star review of a 5 star piece.

Review of Norman Mailer: A Novelist in a Time of War by Geo Beach

The job of journalism is to tell the story – factually AND truthfully – and a mere recitation of governmental data does not inevitably render a faithful picture of reality.

As partial antidote, the thought-provoking Nieman Narrative director Mark Kramer convinced Norman Mailer to present to a thousand journalists at the 2004 Narrative Conference. And public radio listeners are the lucky beneficiaries of this further Nieman outreach through PRX, “A novelist in a time of war”.

“[Mailer] ambled into view, supported by two canes. Always short, now wizened, wearing his ears like sideview mirrors, he looked Yoda-like in every sense… the generosity and zest and heat of an old writer still fighting his fight, still practicing his spooky art.” wrote Poynter Institute’s Roy Peter Clark.

Mailer offers equal opportunity censure of parties in and out of power, and the media that purports to cover them. But the thesis for his presentation is a commonality — the novelist and journalist each trying to find a better approach to “the established truth”, which is skewed by the powerful. Perhaps some repeaters were fashioned into reporters as a result.

Mailer deploys the novelist’s metaphoric insight on George W Bush, “neither an athlete nor a fighter pilot, but a cheerleader” – but also recognizes W is not stupid. A secular Jew (his theological digression on the nature of small-g god the creator, and reincarnation as celestial editing, is but one glorious chapter here), Mailer challenges Democrats and journalists alike to consider how recognizing Jesus might be beneficial.

And, with a thud, Mailer poses our largest question as a divided country, “Why are we in Iraq?

“Like most large topics, [that] present[s] no quick answers.”

Which for today’s fast-media nation means the question isn’t genuinely pursued.

But Mailer’s approach to “brood along as a novelist” is close kin to public radio’s ways of apprehending the world. Radio is suffused in narrative storytelling.

Mailer’s closing benediction is, “Long may good questions prevail. They are imperiled.”

However listeners answer Norman Mailer’s good questions brooding through this hour, they will inform themselves far more than would a rollover of soundbites from those purveyors and repeaters of government data. “A novelist in a time of war” offers public radio the opportunity to commit leadership in journalism again. Crack the spine.

You, too, can review anything on PRX! Click on a piece, listen to the free stream and then review!

Sydney Lewis, Transom.org

Center for Documentary Studies Workshop

The Center for Documentary Studies in North Carolina has some openings for its upcoming workshop called Hearing is Believing II. The dates are May 24-29. Here’s how the Center describes the program:

An intensive six-day workshop for students who’ve recorded interviews and gathered sound and are ready to construct a four- to ten-minute audio documentary. This course is designed for those who have collected sufficient sound for a project and have a basic grasp of audio editing software, or for individuals who have completed “Make That Audio Doc” and/or the one-week “Hearing Is Believing” summer institute and are ready to try a more ambitious project. This time you’ll bring your own recordings on Day One. You’ll get lessons and personal guidance from seasoned radio documentary producers as you structure and script your piece, record your narration tracks (if any), and mix your documentary on ProTools.

I’ll also be there and look forward to meeting all of you. I’ll be talking about PRX on the evening of May 25.

So, apply! Please contact Dawn Dreyer @ dkdreyer@duke.edu or 919.660.3680

– John Barth

Radio and Tsunami Relief

Public radio pioneer Bill Siemering has been working hard on radio in developing countries. And, he is alerting friends and colleagues to a community radio station in Indonesia that is doing far more than broadcasting Tsunami relief information.

Radio 68H in Indonesia runs 400 local stations serving the 17,000 islands of Indonesia. Now 68H is also digging wells for drinking water—32 of them so far, each providing safe drinking water for five to seven thousand people.  They’re doing it with donations from listeners in an impoverished and battered country.

Bill is looking for more stations to join in by simply placing a link to 68H’s relief effort on the station website.

Here’s the link: http://indonesia-donations.mdlf.org

Bill would also be glad to answer questions. His email is siemering@attglobal.net.

PRX in Berkeley

Berkeley might be known for a lot of things — the Free Speech Movement, lots of homeless people, great food, a very funky environment, superb architecture — but it doesn’t get enough credit for one of its best attributes: one of the strongest journalism schools in the world.

I was lucky enough to meet with a class of grad students working on radio projects last week. Well known documentary producer Sandy Tolan is teaching the class. And, if we are all fortunate, we’ll see some of the students’ work on PRX.

The students are working on series ideas at the moment, all focused on California. From Christian fundamentalists in the bigggest Blue state, to stories about prisoners, rat catchers for the rich and the culture of sports. One producer, Daniel Moulthrop, has already uploaded one piece to PRX. (check it out!)

California Stations Redux

Let it be said that neither rain nor wind nor mudslides can keep PRX from its appointed station visits.

From Thursday Jan. 6 through Tuesday Jan. 11, I visited KPCC, KPBS, Weekend America, LA Theatre Works and the California Public Radio meeting in Palm Springs. If you think this was all sun-in-the-fun, chablis swilling by the pool–forget it.

It was mostly like this:

Calidriving.jpg

Continue reading California Stations Redux

Thank you California!

PRX Technical Director Steve Schultze and I were lucky enough to spend Dec 5, 6 and part of 7 in northern California conducting PRX training sessions at KAZU, KUSP (in Monterey/Pacific Grove) and then at KQED.

I am sure I can speak for Steve when I say that John McNally, Terry Green and JoAnne Wallace have wonderful, warm and smart staffs who made us feel incredibly welcome.

Steve and I are a two man training machine — I talked a lot about the site layout and navigation, search, ratings and reviews; Steve tackled the hard stuff about audio, posting, downloading and the free tools.
We got terrific feedback about prx.org and were pleasantly surprised that the stations are thinking about the many ways to use and improve PRX—just like WE are!

Here was the scene midway through our session at KQED–also attended by Tripp Sommer at KLCC (l), [Steve], Alex Pacheco, KQED web editor (center), Margarete Lee, KQED programmer (right) and JoAnne Wallace, GM and PD(far right).
kqed_small.jpg

With all the stations we spent a lot of time on improvements that are coming to prx.org very soon, search strategies, how PRX points work—and how stations and producers get paid. Best of all for station programmers, we show how stations are using PRX.

Do you want help with learning PRX? Contact me at john@prx.org and we’ll see how we can hook up!