Last updated 8:05AM ET
June 23, 2017
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Telling the Story - News
(2008-12-04)
(prndi) - NEWS

In this section, you will find the answers to the following questions:

What's the News Director's background?
What does the news department look like?
How many of those are full-time reporters with no hosting, administrative, or other job duties?
Are ME/ATC hosts part of news or programming/operations?
Are professional training opportunities provided for news folks?
Does the staff pitch spots and pieces to the networks? Estimate how often and how many staffers succeed in getting on.
Where are they putting their features?
Are they concentrating on spots or features?
How do they define expectations for news staff? Do they have story quotas, and if so what are they? Do they have other ways of articulating expectations and measuring staff performance?
How many locally-produced long-form (3 minutes or more) features does the newsroom air each week?
How many local newscasts do they run each day and when are they?
Do they run local commentaries or essays, and if so, how many and when?
Do you produce local news series, and if so, how often?

What's the News Director's background?

KQED- The Executive Director for News and Public Affairs - Raul Ramirez - in that position since 1991. He came from print with the Miami Herald and the Washington Post. He is former president of the board of the Center for Investigative Reporting. The News Director - Bruce Koon - worked at the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers for 22 years and then moved to the San Jose Mercury News' Mercury Center and Knight Ridder's online division. This is his first radio job. He's been there since 2007.
KUOW- Guy Nelson has been in public radio for more than 20 years, 8 of them in his current position.
KWMU-Bill Raack has been there since 1995. He started in commercial radio and switched to public radio in 1990.
KOPB- News director started working in public radio in college - worked at that station for part of college, then went to local TV station, then joined OPB in 1990 - was morning traffic reporter, show host producer, then news director in 1994
WPLN - Anita Bugg has been in public radio for 20 years, 13 of them at WPLN. She served as a reporter and news director for two commercial stations prior to entering the public radio world.
WKSU- M.L. Schultze worked in commercial radio for three years before spending 25 years in print journalism. WKSU hired her last year.
WEVO - News director came to New Hampshire after a dozen years as a reporter and editor with the Pacifica network in Washington, D.C.
KSKA -Duncan Moon (works for Alaska Public Radio Network) began with Monitor Radio in 1985, eventually covering the Middle East, Moscow and DC. He worked for NPR in 1997 as Managing Editor and Religion Correspondent. He's been in Alaska since 2003.
KBIA - Janet Saidi has worked in print at the L.A. Times and Christian Science Monitor, been a freelancer for a PBS documentary, and a producer of a arts/culture magazine at KPBS in San Diego.

What does the news department look like?

KQED- 35 total: News Director, 8 full-time reporters, 2-part-time reporters 2 in Sacramento, including a bureau chief 1 in Los Angeles, bureau chief 1 in Fresno, Central Valley Bureau Chief 1 in San Jose 3 full-time reporters based in San Francisco 2 part-time reporters based in San Francisco 2 local news anchors: AM anchor & PM anchor 2 hosts: 1 host of our daily state-wide program, The California Report. 1 host of the weekly magazine, The California Report. 2 Editors: Senior Editor & News Editor. 1 Senior Online Editor 1 Senior Producer who also has editor responsibilities. 1 full-time producer 3 part-time producers and 1 part-time director 2 Senior Editors with a blend of special responsibilities that include reporting and editing. One is attached to a Climate change multiple-year project and the other to our Quest multiple year project on Science, Nature and the Environment.
KUOW- News Director Guy Nelson, 3 drive-time hosts who report part-time, ten reporters, a senior editor and a Public Insight journalist. It also helps operate a regional network called N3 which staffs an editor and five reporters.
KWMU- 1science reporter, 1 statehouse reporter, four producers who also deliver newscasts, (hosts who do weather/traffic/forward promotion are in programming)
KOPB- There are 20 employees and several volunteers in the news department. The morning and afternoon hosts are part of the news staff, and so are the five people solely dedicated to the program Think Out Loud.
WPLN - News Director Anita Bugg, the ME host and ATC host report part-time, 1 full-time reporter, two part-time reporters, occasional freelancers, and a contract reporter for the state legislative session.
WKSU- News Director M.L. Schultze, two ME hosts, and ATC host, and three reporters
WEVO - News director and five full-time reporters are responsible for covering the state's daily news. About half a dozen stringers around the state also file stories for the news dept. The ATC and ME hosts occasionally do 2ways under supervision of News Director.
KSKA - reporter in DC covering congressional issues re: Alaska, reporter in Juneau for state news, and local reporters in Anchorage: staff of 11 in the news department, but 4.5 are designated for the program "AK" - they work on the show exclusively. one full-time KSKA municipal reporter
KBIA - 3 full time staff, including the News Director

How many of those are full-time reporters with no hosting, administrative, or other job duties?

KQED-16
KUOW-10
KWMU-2
KOPB- 4 In addition, OPB serves as the base of operations for the Northwest News Network that undertakes cooperative reporting for six public radio operations in the region and which employees an editor and five reporters.
WPLN - 1
WKSU- 3
WEVO -5
KSKA -
KBIA - None. There's the news director, one assistant news director who helps run news department as well as coaching/editing students; and a full-time producer who hosts Morning Edition and helps coach students as well as reporting.

Are ME/ATC hosts part of news or programming/operations?

KQED-news
KUOW- news
KWMU-programming, but the newscasters are part of news
KOPB-news
WPLN - news
WKSU- news
WEVO - They straddle both. Our PD does regular air checks and works with them on station sound. News Director works with them on issues around news stories.
KSKA - programming
KBIA - programming

Are professional training opportunities provided for news folks?

KQED- the station has a pretty significant training fund for news that supports both bringing trainers in and sending staff out for conferences. And anyone who goes out is required to present what they've learned when they return.
KUOW- yes at least every other year they attend an outside conference, in-houxe the PD Jeff Hansen runs a year-round training program of air checking and bringing in outside trainers. David Candow has come in often targeting 6 or 8 people at a time for a week.
KWMU- PRNDI conferences, the Illinois and Missouri Broadcasters Association meetings or various training opportunities offered by NPR.
KOPB-yes
WPLN - Yes, the station is dedicated to providing as many training experiences, through PRNDI, NPR, etc., as possible for all the news staff.
WKSU- Yes, the station is committed to providing at least one training experience per year for each member of the news staff.
WEVO - Yes. Each year we try to send reporters to training whether it be in their beat, to NPR fly-ins, or to other training to help them develop their skills as writers and reporters.
KSKA - yes
KBIA - Yes, at least two news folks go to PRNDI, News Director Janet Saidi teaches in the Journalism School and has a travel budget, and the GM is open to hosting training in-house and other opportunities.

Does the staff pitch spots and pieces to the networks? Estimate how often and how many staffers succeed in getting on.

KQED-newer reporters are encouraged to pitch as part of their training, a handful of reporters get on regularly
KUOW- 5 of his 16 news staffers are regular contributors to the networks. They get pieces on 2-3 times a month and spots on 1-2 times a week.
KWMU-pitching is written into reporters goals. All of our reporters have had the opportunity to report for NPR, PRI and other national networks.
KOPB- Yes. More often, it is NPR calling to request stories, and OPB responds. All of our reporters have been on NPR and other network programs repeatedly. But staff is generally too busy to initiate contact.
WPLN -4 staff members regularly file. Reporters likely pitch 2-10 times per month and we make the network 3-6 times per month.
WKSU- Yes, all staff members pitch. On average, they pitch once per week and are successful once per month.
WEVO - Yes, our news staff regularly pitches to the networks, and I'd guess they are successful a couple dozen times a year. But remember, this is NH, and come election time, this is a pretty popular place. During off years, when there are no natural disasters, we probably average about a dozen times.
KSKA - yes
KBIA - Management and news staff see pitching to the network as a win-win for the station and the community, but the department is still relatively new pitching stories up.

Where are they putting their features?

KQED-6:33am and 8:33am, during a 6-minute statewide feature show at 6:50am and 8:50am, and at 5:30pm and during a statewide magazine on Friday nights.
KUOW- they have guidelines for which features get to air during ME - C,D,E or bottom of the hour depending on their length. News Director Guy Nelson says, "We like to put our strongest, newsiest material on ME. The length is not so much of an issue, anything between 3-7 minutes can be inserted in the second half of each hour. But it is important that the pieces meet high production standards and have a good news hook."ATC - 5:44 cutaway or use them to kick off a talk show. They also may be placed in Day to Day.
KWMU-they fill the C segment in ME 2 to 3 times a week, in ATC's hour two 00:45:00 slot.
KOPB- OPB covers Morning Edition's "E" segment at 6:50 and 8:50 to air feature reports and host two-ways.
WPLN - Our feature length stories run at 6:34/8:34 am
WKSU- During both Morning Edition and ATC - they float based on content and length, though they never insert into A or B segments. In ATC, they most often use the cutaway at 5:44:30, and then run longer and/or multiple local pieces at 6:20.
WEVO - We get into the national newscasts, Morning Edition - usually in the C or D segments, ATC, Day to Day, Marketplace, Weekend America, The World.
KSKA - Morning Edition at 6:35 or 7:35, ATC at 5:44, Saturdays 10 and noon, Sundays noon and 2:00 or in their weekly "AK" program
KBIA - They forgo a 7:04 am newscast in favor of a 5-minute feature slot each morning during ME. They air 8-minute in-depth shows at 20 past, and occasional special reports or features at 44 and 50 past the hour during ATC.

Are they concentrating on spots or features?

KQED-both
KUOW- more on features than on spots but they have one reporter who is the spot reporter of the day and that rotates, they'll cover the day's big news story and turn it into spots for the afternoon and next morning, they're moving from an average story count in newscasts from 3 to 4 to more like 1 or 2- they can cover spot news but are trying to do it in greater depth
KWMU- Bill Raack "I always give the priority to features because we feel like that's what our listeners would like to hear is longer, in-depth feature reports. And if a reporter's working on a feature I never pull them off the feature to go cover a spot."
KOPB- both
WPLN - With only one full-time reporter, our mix is heavy on spot news. However, we are taking steps to get a better balance, given that listeners respond most to in-depth reporting.
WKSU- on both. The News Director picks up much of the slack on producing spots to free up time for reporters to spend on features.
WEVO -both
KSKA - both
KBIA - features. PD John Bailey says, "It's important to have strong newscast presence, but its not the bread and butter in a lot of ways. It's not what the listeners find most satisfying and it's not what reporters like most to sink their teeth into. And it's not what generates the attention we've gotten"

How do they define expectations for news staff? Do they have story quotas, and if so what are they? Do they have other ways of articulating expectations and measuring staff performance?

KQED- No quotas. Steady production. Number of stories depends greatly on beat assignment and rhythm of news in assigned area. Staff performance reviews are performed yearly, grounded largely on non-numerical performance considerations such as communications skills, story organization, follow through on assignments, etc.
KUOW-News Director Guy Nelson, "We want everyone to be able to do their best work and that means quality over quantity. We don't have formal quotas, though each person does one day per week of spot news and spends the other four days working on features. Sometimes a feature can be done in 10 hours, sometimes it takes 20 or 30. I usually allow them enough time to do the piece so that it's complete and well done, not thrown together in a hurry. We have occasional conversations about their output to keep them on track."
KWMU- News Director Bill Raack, "We have annual goals that we establish with our reporters. Those goals vary depending on a reporter's duties, but yes, they include story quotas. They also include expectations for pitching stories to national networks, taking advantage of training opportunities and a reporter's ability to offer new ideas to improve the station."
KOPB- Generally, we expect reporters to file 2 or 3 features a week (apx. 3-4 minutes each) and 1-2 spots per day. These aren't considered quotas, but most reporters meet those goals most weeks. Reporters occasionally ask for time to develop a particular feature and can be pulled off of spot duty to devote additional time to that. This is often necessary when travel is required for interviews and sound-gathering for the feature.
WPLN - No quotas. Expectations are defined in job plans, but in such a way as to not set a specific number of stories to hit. WPLN has a highly motivated, self-starting news staff. For a staff our size, we produce an incredible amount of stories.
WKSU- Staff is expected to care about the northeastern Ohio community and what WKSU can do to inform and connect that community. There are no story quotas as far as numbers, but the news department puts emphasis on informing a pretty disparate community and helping it feel connected and interested. On a more pragmatic level, they try to keep the workload as balanced as possible so every reporter gets the reward of depth work and the charge of breaking/spot news.
WEVO - News Director Mark Bevis asks that the reporters try to do on average 2, 4 minute features a week. "I'm pretty flexible though. Every week, one of the reporters is on newscast duty, which means s/he is responsible for gathering sound and stories for newscasts."
KSKA -
KBIA - ND Janet Saidi says the station doesn't have story quotas, rather, "We try to discuss each morning what each of us are working on, and look for ways to help each other out. I would like to implement a weekly morning look-ahead meeting but we've only done this sporadically. We all work in the same cubicle and talk fairly regularly about what we're working on, any frustrations we're having, etc. There's very little formal evaluation."

How many locally-produced long-form (3 minutes or more) features does the newsroom air each week?

KQED-Our daily statewide magazine, The California Report, on the average airs one long-form story a day. Our weekly half-hour statewide magazine, The California Report, airs 4 to 5 long-form stories and a host interview. We produce a handful of long-form features monthly for our local newscasts.
KUOW-one each day
KWMU- 2 to 3
KOPB- We average 10-12 per week, including features produced by regional Northwest News Network reporters that we air. Fills the Morning Edition E segments twice a morning and the ATC local cutaway each afternoon.
WPLN - 1-2
WKSU- 10-15
WEVO - We average at least 10 a week. Those stories may come from the news staff or the stringers. They may also come from other outlets like The Environment Report, the new Environmental Hub. We also share stories now and then with Maine Public Radio and VPR, so sometime we air their pieces as well.
KSKA - 10-15
KBIA - at least 5 or more per week. During the slow period over the summer, they air 1-2 features during Morning Edition, plus three nights per week they air their 8-minute "shows" which each have 2 features in them. During the busier semester, the news department has up to 100 student reporters providing content. So the number jumps to about 10 features per week or more.

How many local newscasts do they run each day and when are they?

KQED-We produce 6 local newscasts and 1 statewide newscast repeated 3 times daily (this excludes 2 local headline breaks at 6:05 a.m. and 7:35 a.m.) KQED Radio News 6:33 a.m.: This newscast has option of running 1:45, 4:00 or 5:47. 7:05 a.m.: 3:30 8:05 a.m.: 3:30 8:30 a.m.: 3:30 5:04 p.m. 2:00 5:30 p.m. 4:30 The California Report: 5:50 a.m.: 8:20 6:50 a.m.: 8:20 (usually a repeat of 5:50 but we have option to update). 8:50 a.m.: 8:20 ditto although less probability
KUOW-2 per hour on ME, one per hour through the mid-day, and two per hour on ATC
KWMU-5 in the morning, 6 in the afternoon
KOPB- On weekdays, locally-produced newscasts air twice an hour from 5 to 9 AM, once an hour from 9 to 4, and then twice an hour from 4 to 6 PM. There are weekend newscasts at the top of the hour from 6 to 10 AM.
WPLN - Ten - ME - 6:06, 6:34, 7:06, 7:34, 8:06 & 8:34. ATC: 4:04, 4:33, 5:04, 5:33
WKSU- Top of the hour from 5-8 mornings; top and bottom of the hour from 4-6 afternoons.
WEVO - We start at 5:30 am, do 2 an hour through ME, then have newscasts at the top of the hour through most of the rest of the day, then 2 an hour again through ATC. I count 19.
KSKA - 6:35 AM, 7:35 AM and 5:44 PM, weekends - Sat 10 & 12, Sun 12 & 2
KBIA - Eight newscasts per day: 7:35, 8:05, 8:35 am; 4:04, 4:32, 5:04, 5:32 pm. Plus, a separately produced minute newscast at 8:05 am for a Northeast Missouri community that runs a repeater signal.

Do they run local commentaries or essays, and if so, how many and when?

KQED-public affairs commentary by community members, called Perspectives, airs daily at 7:37am and 8:37am during Morning Edition.
KUOW-they don't run local commentaries anymore
KWMU-Yes, we air local commentaries. Our goal is to have one every weekday....but realistically we offer 15/month, approximately
KOPB- no
WPLN - no
WKSU- rarely, unless they're exceptional in topic and writing
WEVO - Now and again, we will air essays or commentaries, but it is not a regular part of our news.
KSKA - no
KBIA - The station runs a series of student commentaries twice a year. The students are in the advanced magazine writing program. And it runs a regular commentary, "Mr. Smith Talks to Washington," by a political analyst, which aris during the weekly Talking Politics program.

Do you produce local news series, and if so, how often?

KQED- Yes. Frequency is dictated by the news and varies a great deal. We gravitate more to occasional ongoing series, rather than being locked in on unwieldy projects.
KUOW- this station has a program venture fund for special series, documentaries or long in-depth features and they've used it a lot in the last few years. It can be used by staff or freelancers. News Director Guy Nelson says, "We produce several local series per year, last year (2007) we did six. Some of those are done through our special Program Venture Fund. Others are done by an individual reporter, and others are done by a team of reporters."
KWMU- generally will produce two-three distinct news series per year.
KOPB- Yes, we produce 1 or 2 in-depth series a year. These are generally 3-5 parts that air over the course of one week or weekly during a month. The last couple of series we've done have taken 2-3 months to develop and produce.
WPLN - yes, the news department produces two or three series per year
WKSU- the station runs three to five local series per year
WEVO - Yes, we do series, at least one a year. Last summer we did one on the Merrimack River. Before that, on how the town of Exeter was shaping up during Primary season. I did a year-long series of weekly interviews with NH soldiers in Iraq in 06-07. And we're planning one in the next few months on how international refugees are faring here.
KSKA - Regularly, during election season, yes. Candidate profiles, ballot propositions. (we did have an impromptu series that arose when so many of our legislators were on trial and ended up in jail)
KBIA - Yes, several per year. They produce a series of candidate interviews (with video online) before each election. They run features occasionally as two-part series, have series on century farms in the state, and their weekly 8-minute shows also feature the occasional series.
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