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Monday, December 5, 2011

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Non-Profits and Very Profitable Comcast to Join Forces on News

NBC stations will use content from nonprofit news outlets

Ten NBC-owned television stations across the nation will team with nonprofit news outlets in an attempt to beef up their enterprise and analytical reporting, the network announced Monday.
NBC affiliates in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia will work with work with non-commercial outfits in those cities -- KPCC public radio, the Chicago Reporter and WHYY public radio and television, respectively -- while all of the network's owned-and-operated stations will get early access to investigative reports from the independent, nonprofit newsroom Pro Publica.
The arrangement comes as Comcast moves to fulfill its commitment to federal regulators to strengthen local, public-interest programming in the wake of its purchase of NBCUniversal earlier this year.
The partnerships also continue the trend toward content sharing throughout the media industry as operators try to trim the high costs that come with producing stories on their own. The New York Times, for example, has expanded its editions in Chicago, San Francisco and other locations via publishing partnerships with nonprofit news outlets. In Chicago, the New York Times gets local stories from the Chicago News Cooperative, while in the San Francisco area the newspaper features content from the Bay Citizen. Both of the Times partners are nonprofit, Web-based news start-ups.
In Los Angeles, Pasadena-based KPCC-FM (89.3) and KNBC-TV Channel 4 plan to use content produced by the other and, in some cases, stories that the two outlets will develop together. Details and a starting time for the joint-content programming remain to be worked out.
KPCC Chief Executive Bill Davis said the for-profit television station and his nonprofit radio outfit will  be able to expand the size of their audiences and the reach of their reporting.
"We can get to the kind of investigative and enterprise stories we wouldn’t be able to singularly," Davis said.
ProPublica, a New York-based Web operation that already shares content with many news organizations, will give NBC stations an early look at databases it develops on a range of complicated subjects. Its previous projects have, among other things, showed which doctors took payments from drug companies, rated the quality of care at dialysis centers and the performance of secondary schools.
NBC stations will be able to look at ProPublica data to focus such reports on their local communities.  "We put the reporting at their fingertips and they can do terrific local stories with it," said Richard Tofel, general manager for ProPublica. "We get a greater and wider impact, which is ultimately our mission."
The model for the new partnerships comes from San Diego, where the nonprofit news Internet site Voice of San Diego has worked with NBC Channel 7. Among several features the TV station gets is "San Diego Explained," a Wednesday night segment in which a reporter from the website delves deeper into local issues. This week, the program is being expanded to five parts to focus on the financial crisis in San Diego schools.
NBC pays $3,900 a month to Voice of San Diego. That does not entirely cover the website's costs, said Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis. But the nonprofit benefits by expanding its audience and its profile in the San Diego area, which helps its fundraising.
NBC will not pay for content it will receive from ProPublica and KPCC, though both of the non-commercial outlets said they expected to get voluntary financial donations from the television network. The payments were not a condition of the content sharing, they said.
-- James Rainey
Photo: Bill Davis, president of Southern California Public Radio, which operates KPCC. The station plans to share content with KNBC-TV Channel 4 in Los Angeles, one of four new cooperative arrangements announced by the NBC television network. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A fond farewell to the hard-wired phone


For an interesting illustrated history of the land line home phone, click here.

December 5, 1933

Today is the anniversary of the end of Prohibition, so raise your glasses high! 

From Wikipedia (not to be confused with "Wikileaks", pardon the pun):

Prohibition in the United States, also known as The Noble Experiment, was the period from 1920 to 1933, during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation ofalcohol were banned nationally[1] as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Under substantial pressure from the temperance movement, the United States Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 16, 1920. Some state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the 18th Amendment.
The "Volstead Act", the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, passed through Congress over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919, and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor, as well as penalties for producing it.[2] Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, the federal government did little to enforce it. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.[3]
While Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, it tended to undermine society by other means, as it stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity.[4] Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities. The bulk of America became disenchanted after the St. Valentine's Day massacre in 1929.
On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. However, United States federal law still prohibits the manufacture of distilled spirits without meeting numerous licensing requirements that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal beverage use.[5]

Creative America releases new anti-piracy video

Hollywood's ambitious campaign to educate the public and its own workforce about the perils of film piracy has produced -- what else -- another film.
Creative America, the group launched this summer to muster support in the creative community for tougher anti-piracy laws, recently debuted a 12-minute video that highlights the impact of content theft on all aspects of the filmmaking chain -- from the grips to the independent filmmakers. The video, which was more than two months in the making, is posted on Creative America's website
Through internal videos, newsletters, emails and booths set up in company commissaries, media giants such as NBC, Viacom, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. have been encouraging their employees to join Creative America. NBC recently aired on its various broadcast and cable channels a public service announcement starring stand-up comedian and television writer Tom Papa, host of the 2010 TV series "The Marriage Ref" and star of the 2004 NBC comedy "Come to Papa."
Through the Creative America website and online petitions at, more than 60,000 individuals have sent more than 153,000 emails to their legislators in support of stronger legislation that would make it easier for the Justice Department to crack down on foreign websites trafficking in pirated movies and other materials. 
The campaign, however, is facing some stiff opposition from Internet giants like Google and EBay that view the measures as legislative overkill that would limit free speech and curtail innovation on the Internet. For more on the divide, see Monday's story in the Los Angeles Times.
-- Richard Verrier


CSN ArtsSpace Gallary Show

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