The Rundown on New PBS NewsHour: Online, ‘cross-generational’ features

PBS will “re-launch” its evening news program on Monday, including more integration with www.pbs.org/newshour, and the show’s producers have plenty to say online about what will and won’t change.

With merged broadcast and digital staffs in an expanded  newsroom, part of the goal is “reporting that is cross-generational, diverse and dynamic.”

The show’s host, 75-year-old Jim Lehrer, is not retiring, but said the new format will give a larger role to other senior correspondents and add a new face: As announced last month, Hari Sreenivasan will be a major part of the broadcast/Web crossover.

Sreenivasan will give a broadcast report of the day’s main headlines and updates on the NewsHour website, using a blog-style section called “The Rundown,”  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown. It already includes  Sreenivasan’s first video. In it, he mentions that along with news updates, the blog will share links to primary source documents so that viewers can make up their own minds about stories.

Another feature will be a partnership with GlobalPost, a Boston-based network of international correspondents already online as http://globalpost.com.

However, the PBS NewsHour producers are careful to call the show “the latest evolution of ‘MacNeil-Lehrer’ journalism,” the serious take on the news pioneered by Robert MacNeil, who was later joined by Jim Lehrer as co-anchor. MacNeil retired in 1994. Lehrer has continued as anchor, and is probably best known beyond PBS for his role as moderator of presidential debates.

Lehrer, 75, will remain the NewsHour’s lead anchor and executive editor, even though the program will no longer carry his name in the title. He mentioned in May that “early thoughts about a Lehrer-less NewsHour” would be taken into account in planning the program’s future, along with other issues, particularly the decline of serious newspaper journalism and the rise of news on the Web.

Lehrer, whose reporting career started on Dallas newspapers,  signed off Friday with a list of 10 “guidelines in our practice of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism.”  It began with “Do nothing I cannot defend,” and closed with “… and finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

The full list is on that Rundown blog, along with the video of Lehrer’s Friday-night spot, room for comments, and tools to bookmark, e-mail or post links on Twitter and Facebook.

Meanwhile, over at the PBS MediaShift blog, Anna Shoup, local/national editor of the program, talks about how the online and broadcast operations are being reorganized. Shoup’s title reflects another change — more collaboration with local stations on projects like Patchwork Nation, “a partnership to cover the economy in different types of places.”

More about this in:

The New York Times

The Washington Post

The Wall Street Journal (nothing yet)

(The NewsHour site allows embedding of selected video from its site.  I tried a tool called “Vodpod” to add it here, but there was no way to cancel the “auto start,” so I’ve removed it. )

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in Blogging, Journalism, Online-Only, Television

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