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WNET.ORG-Produced Weekly Public Media Project to Debut On-Air May 7, 2010 on PBS


March 18, 2010 (New York, NY) – Peabody Award-winning broadcast journalist Alison Stewart and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham will co-anchor Need To Know, a new weekly primetime news and public affairs series slated to debut nationally on PBS Friday, May 7th at 8:30 p.m. WNET.ORG President and CEO Neal Shapiro announced today. Need To Know, a dynamic source of current affairs coverage for today’s media consumers, will strengthen PBS’s role as America’s most trusted national institution and fairest news source1 among broadcast and cable channels.

Need To Know is a production of Creative News Group (CNG) for WNET.ORG, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers and parent company of New York public broadcast outlets THIRTEEN and WLIW21. Shelley Lewis, formerly of CNN and ABC News, will executive-produce Need To Know. Beginning on May 3rd, viewers will be able to access the program’s website at to learn more about the issues and stories being considered for the series’ debut on May 7th.

“I can’t think of two better anchors for Need To Know than Alison and Jon,” said Shapiro. “They bring years of journalistic experience in a variety of media, which makes them perfect for the program's innovative approach to news. I’m personally excited to see them on air and on-line together and I think PBS viewers will embrace them.”

A cross-media initiative built around a wide community of journalists and producers, with input from a savvy engaged audience, Need To Know on PBS will cover five primary beats: the economy, the environment and energy, health, national security and culture. Stories, interviews, blogs, video and photo features will offer ongoing updates online, with the production teams inviting interaction and input from users who are on the lookout for the latest information on a given subject.

Each week’s online story development will culminate in the weekly one-hour broadcast, curated from the week’s reporting by the various beat teams and co-anchored by Stewart and Meacham.

“Alison Stewart and Jon Meacham will bring fresh voices and diverse perspectives into the national conversation on PBS,” said John F. Wilson, PBS’s senior vice president and chief TV programming executive. “PBS looks forward to working with WNET.ORG and the Need To Know team to continue reinventing journalism for the digital era, ensuring we’re using new platforms to give Americans a deeper understanding of the world around them.”

The broadcast will feature documentary-style field reports, from both domestic and international locales, short features and studio-based interviews and conversation to complement and advance the produced reports. Need To Know will be produced in WNET.ORG’s new flagship studio at Lincoln Center in New York City. The hour-long program will air on PBS stations nationwide on Friday evenings, joining PBS’s acclaimed public affairs lineup, including PBS Newshour, Nightly Business Report, Frontline and Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.

“I have long thought that a 21st century current affairs venture would be perfect for public media,” said Stephen Segaller, VP of Content at WNET.ORG, who conceived Need To Know and has led its development. “Need To Know will inherit the depth and experience of our inventive, award-winning series like Wide Angle and Expose, while also doing much that is entirely new in online journalism. We have planned a broadcast and web destination that reinforces the intelligence and substance expected from public media. We couldn’t be more excited to be launching something new – PBS journalism is alive, energized, and innovating.”

Alison Stewart
Most recently Alison Stewart was the founding host of NPR’s breakthrough multiplatform news program, “The Bryant Park Project,” the first public radio news program to seamlessly incorporate audio, video and social media. She also guest hosted the network’s flagship programs “Weekend Edition” and “Talk of the Nation.”

Stewart began her career as a political reporter and producer for MTV’s critically acclaimed and influential "Choose or Lose" coverage of the 1992 and 1996 Presidential elections, receiving a Peabody Award for her work.

Today, Stewart is an accomplished, award-winning broadcast journalist with credentials from CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News. While at MSNBC, she created and hosted the show “The Most,” a news program based on the most popular news on the web. During her six years at MSNBC, Alison anchored major news events including Hurricane Katrina, the Hezbollah/Israel conflict, and reported live from the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. Stewart also contributed to “NBC Nightly News,” “The Today Show” and “Weekend Today,” where she was also a newsreader.

While at ABC, Stewart served as anchor for ABC News’ “World News Now.” She reported live from the World Trade Center and received an Emmy as part of ABC News’ coverage of September 11th terrorist attacks. Prior to working for ABC News, Stewart was a correspondent for CBS News’ “Sunday Morning” and “48 Hours.”

In 2009, Stewart was named one of “The Root 100,” recognizing emerging and established African American leaders. Alison is working on a book about the first high school for African Americans in the United States.

Jon Meacham
Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and the editor of Newsweek. He arrived at the magazine as a writer in 1995, became national affairs editor that year, was named managing editor in 1998 and was appointed to his current position in 2006.

His book American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House was published by Random House in November 2008. It debuted at #2 on The New York Times bestseller list and became a Times Notable Book. On April 20, 2009, American Lion was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Meacham is also the author of two other New York Times bestsellers—American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation and Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, about the wartime relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. In 2009, Meacham was elected to the Society of American Historians and serves on its executive board.

He has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Slate, and The Los Angeles Times Book Review. In 2001, he edited Voices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement (Random House), a collection of distinguished nonfiction about the mid-century struggle against Jim Crow. He has served as a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize by the Anti-Defamation League.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University in 2005 and holds three other honorary doctorates.

Need To Know on PBS is a production of Creative News Group (CNG) for WNET.ORG. Executive Producer: Shelley Lewis. For WNET.ORG, Executives in Charge: Stephen Segaller and Neal Shapiro.


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New York public media company WNET.ORG is a pioneering provider of television and web content. The parent of Thirteen, WLIW21 and Creative News Group, WNET.ORG brings such acclaimed broadcast series and websites as Worldfocus, Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Wide Angle, Secrets of the Dead, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Visions, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, Miffy and Friends, and Cyberchase to national and international audiences. Through its wide range of channels and platforms, WNET.ORG serves the entire New York City metro area with unique local productions, broadcasts and innovative educational and cultural projects. In all that it does, WNET.ORG pursues a single, overarching goal – to create media experiences of lasting significance for New York, America and the world. For more information, visit

About PBS
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1GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. January, 2010.