The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Partners with the NewsHour to Expand Digital News

Partnership Will Enable PBS’ NewsHour to Reach Younger Audiences with Interactive Web Features, Online Forums and Expanded Educational Resources

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer announced today a three-year funding and technology partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation designed to make The Online NewsHour a more widely accessible and more fully interactive source of in-depth reporting and analysis of national and world events.

This $1.15 million partnership will help The Online NewsHour better serve a growing audience and more fully meet the needs of the general public, educators and students. A key goal of this partnership is to propel true audience interaction.

“The Knight Foundation grant, along with their expertise in digital media, will enable our Web site visitors to participate more fully in the kind of well-informed, balanced journalism for which The NewsHour is known,” said Linda Winslow, executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. “By increasing the opportunity for people to have a real conversation with The NewsHour, we hope to expand the understanding of our audience about the world around them. We also see a great opportunity to broaden and expand our coverage of the 2008 presidential election.”

“Even the nation’s best journalists need to adapt to the age of digital delivery of news,” said Eric Newton, vice president of Knight Foundation’s journalism program. “Young Americans, especially, seek interactive ways to connect to the news they need to be good citizens.”

Four key areas of the partnership include:

Online Forums. Starting in the fall of 2007, The NewsHour will expand its Web exclusive features to include live interviews with NewsHour guests. During the online interviews and discussion segments, NewsHour correspondents will pose questions generated by visitors via the Online NewsHour Web site. The interviews will be available in print and audio formats, as well as available for download via podcast.

These regularly scheduled online events will provide an opportunity for viewers to more fully explore stories covered by The NewsHour television broadcast. These interviews will cover a wide-range of topics with a variety of guests.

Enhanced data and graphics: The Online NewsHour will gather publicly available data from across the globe and organize the data to generate interactive graphics, animations, maps and slideshows that further the understanding of specific topics, issues and events. While there is currently a wealth of data available – from sources such as governments, research centers, multinational organizations and the United Nations – much is in a format that makes it inaccessible and/or incomprehensible to most people. The enhanced interactive graphics and data will allow the NewsHour audience to draw greater understanding, detail and context from previously unavailable or unrelated sources.

Example of enhanced graphics: Global Warming
A series of interactive graphics depicting various scenarios of the effects of global warming created using data from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2001 report. (The graphic will be updated when the 2007 report becomes available.) Site can be accessed at the following url:

Interactive Video: The Online NewsHour will develop a web-based interactive video application that will allow users to simultaneously view broadcast reports and delve into related content. With the click of a mouse, viewers can pause the video to pull up additional information – transcripts, graphics, and/or other video, related to the topic they are viewing. The goal is to supplement video and provide additional cogent and contextual information without cluttering viewers’ screens.

TeacherCenter: NewsHour Extra, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer’s online educational resource for high school students and teachers, will expand to create a community for professional development for teachers who use current events in their classrooms. The NewsHour TeacherCenter will assist teachers in reviewing, ranking and shaping educational content from its news content; offer professional development; and provide new rights-cleared video and other content for teachers and students to use in the classroom.

The Online NewsHour’s enhanced offerings are the latest in a series of improvements to the Web site. Launched in 1996, the Online NewsHour marked its 10th anniversary by unveiling a redesigned and updated web site in May 2006.

“We continually update The NewsHour – broadcast, online and digital – in ways that deliver on our mission of presenting serious, objective and compelling journalism, without hype. To that end, this new Knight/NewsHour partnership will expand and enhance our content, while reinforcing our commitment to context and depth,” added Lee Banville, Editor of The Online NewsHour.

A national foundation with local roots, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s twin missions are to seed and inspire great journalism and to build strong communities. Since 1954, Knight Foundation’s journalism program has invested more than $300 million to advance the highest standards of journalistic excellence and to protect and expand press freedom.

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer is seen five nights a week on more than 315 PBS stations across the country and is also available online, via public radio in select markets and via podcast. The program is produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, in association with WETA, Washington, DC and Thirteen/WNET in New York. Corporate funding for The NewsHour is provided by AT&T, Chevron, and Pacific Life, along with major funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Park Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.

Press Release as word.doc