The award-winning nationally-broadcast newsmagazine NOW on PBS airs its last episode on April 30, 2010, after an eight-year run. In this personal letter, Executive Producer John Siceloff reflects on the issues, the inspiration, and the controversies that gave the show such a stand-out presence and a lasting legacy in the American journalism landscape.
Yes, folks, it's true. NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called "Need to Know."
NOW had a great run. I was privileged to see it from start to finish -- I was the executive producer when the show launched on January 18, 2002. NOW with Bill Moyers (as it was then called) got its start because of the terrible events of September 11, 2001. PBS wanted to provide the country with a new source of analysis and insight, saying in a press release that NOW "will explore the whys behind timely top stories."
This is how Bill described the aim of NOW: "Americans are saturated with events in the headlines, but in this pounding news cycle it is hard to grasp the bigger picture and the larger forces driving daily developments. NOW will report on the reality behind and beyond news-making events."
And report we did. Bill headed the program for three years, then passed the baton to David Brancaccio as host and Maria Hinojosa as senior correspondent. Moyers conducted extraordinary interviews and pushed the NOW team to dig deep into the nexus of power and money in government -- all part of an effort "to provide tools for the engaged citizen." Brancaccio and Hinojosa worked to understand the realities of working Americans and the diverse nation and globe we live in, always looking to lift up and celebrate people making a difference -- a style we came to call "solutions-oriented journalism."
Our work resonated with both audiences and our peers. Over the course of our eight years, NOW on PBS reports and journalists have won four national Emmy Awards, the USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism, and citations of distinction from The Sierra Club, The Alliance for Women in Media, the Overseas Press Club, The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and The Radio Television Digital News Association.
Our commitment at NOW has been to follow the facts where they lead us. That has not always been easy. In 2004 the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson, initiated a secret probe of NOW's interview guests and stories, which he concealed from the board of directors of his own organization. Tomlinson made no secret of his distaste for Moyers and for NOW. Since CPB is the conduit for much of the federal funding that PBS and NPR receive, the rift was a serious one for public media...
Read the rest of John Siceloff's letter here.
Follow Joel B. Schwartzberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/now_on_pbs