PBS Newshour's spotlight city tour rolls into St Petersburg to focus on the changing media landscape

04/13/10 Tom Baur
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Newspapers are laying-off reporters. More people are going online to find their news. WMNF’s Tom Baur reports from St Petersburg where a panel of experts discussed “The Changing Media Landscape.”

As part of a five city two year national tour PBS Newshour hosted a forum today at the Poynter Institute for Interactive Media in St Petersburg. Their news anchor Gwen Ifill moderated a panel of local media newsmakers co-hosted by WEDU.

The panel included WMNF co-founder Rob Lorei, Ellyn Angelotti interactivity director at Poynter, John Schueler President of Florida Communications Group which includes WFLA and The Tampa Tribune, and Alexis Muellner, Tampa Bay Business Journal Editor. In recent years many media outlets have closed, and more than 5,900 newsroom jobs have been lost. And, Commercial media has seen a dramatic decoupling of revenue from content as consumers turn to the internet and social media for their daily news.

Yet Paul Tash, Publisher of the St Pete Times, says there is still room for good newspaper journalism

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced in March an unprecedented partnership with Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio to fund seven Local Journalism Centers. The West Central Florida Initiative includes six public broadcasting outlets in Florida, including WUSF, WEDU and WMNF. The centers will focus on creating multi-media content related to healthcare issues in central Florida. The goal is to create a platform for community discussion through generating new content and events, including online. The partner organizations will hire eight people, including five reporters.

Corporation For Public Broadcasting Board member Elizabeth Sembler looks forward to engaging the news consuming community with the Local Journalism Initiative.

Rob Lorei feels the Local Journalism Initiative can help public media fill the reporting void left by the layoffs at commercial media stations.

The Spotlight City Series wraps up its Florida visit with an hour-long Town Hall meeting airing on WEDU-TV Friday, April 16 at 9:30 p.m. PBS Newshour Senior correspondent Judy Woodruff will moderate a discussion on health care, the economy, unemployment and other issues that affect local citizens.

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