Skip to main content
PBS Public Editor

Get Updates from the PBS Public Editor

Submit Your Comments
Have a comment related to the journalistic integrity of PBS content? Send an E-mail to Ricardo.  You can also follow the public editor on Twitter @PBSPubEd and sign up to receive and send texts

The public editor does not replace viewers' long-standing ability to contact stations, producers and PBS.

If you have a comment related to PBS website design or user experience, please contact the Audience Services team.

Spotlight on Media

Robert MacNeil Dies at 93

Robert MacNeil, whose namesake news show on PBS in the 1970s led to what is today called the PBS NewsHour, has died. He was 93. In 1975, MacNeil was joined on his half-hour news show by the late Jim Lehrer, and the newscast became the MacNeil-Lehrer Report. In 1983, the show was expanded to an hour and renamed the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, The Guardian reported.

WNET Announces Layoffs at NJ Newsroom, Ends ‘NYC-Arts’

The WNET Group in New York announced job cuts and staff restructuring at several properties it oversees, including NJ Spotlight News, the news division for NJ PBS, which WNET acquired in 2019, Current reports. WNET also announced it will eliminate NYC-Arts, which has chronicled arts and culture in the tri-state area since 2008, will see its final broadcast May 23. 

Meta Threatens to Block News In Illinois Over Revenue-Sharing Bill 

In Meta's latest flex, it's threatening to cut news from Facebook in Illinois because a bill pending in that state’s Senate aims to require megaplatforms to give news outlets their fair cut of ad revenue, writes Angela Massino writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.

News Deserts

Do you live in a ‘news desert’? The University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism looks at the growing gaps in news coverage left by the closures of local newspapers around the country.  The report is available here

MacArthur Foundation to Give
 $500 million to Local News Effort

A coalition of philanthropies led by the MacArthur Foundation is offering $500 million as a lifeline to struggling local news operations, The Washington Post reported. It is the largest single philanthropic commitment to journalism to date. 

American Newspapers Keep Closing and ‘News Deserts’ Keep Growing

(June 29, 2022) Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan writes that one-third of U.S. newspapers will that existed two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public from Northwestern University’s Medill School. 

Link to media release about the study and related multimedia downloads here.

Nonprofit Newsrooms a Promising New Model for Local News, Writes Margaret Sullivan

(Jan. 22, 2022) Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan writes that nonprofit newsrooms like the Texas Tribune, show promise as a prospective new model for struggling local news. 

Family-run Iowa Newspaper Spotlighted in PBS Doc About Local Journalism

A documentary about the struggles of local journalism – think newspapers that cover the daily news of a town like Storm Lake, Iowa (population: 10,000) – airs the week of Nov. 15 on PBS. The Storm Lake Times, the subject of the film, is the second smallest news organization ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. It fills a vital need in this rural community.  Poynter has a write-up on the project, as does The Houston Press

Nonprofit Newsrooms Increasingly Filling Local News Void

The latest Institute for Nonprofit News survey, known as the INN Index, found that a growing portion of nonprofit newsrooms are dedicated to local public affairs, Neiman Labs reported. 

When Texas Border Town Lost Its Only Paper, Local Start-up Filled Void

When the Southwestern border town of Del Rio, Texas, lost its only newspaper, a local man stepped in with an investment in print, turning his event-oriented website into a news outlet with a print edition. He’s helping fight back against the encroaching edges of a news desert.

...more on 'News Deserts' and what PBS can do about them (older coverage)

Against the growing phenomena of news deserts in the United States – areas where local news outlets have failed or have been gutted by the loss of ad revenue – PBS is being called upon to act. One suggested remedy is overhauling the way the Corporation for Public Broadcasting issues grants for public affairs programming, from a Washington, DC -based metric to spending decided by local news producers. ...

Why ‘Withering’ of Local News Landscape is Dangerous for Democracy 

(Sept. 1, 2020) PBS NewsHour interviews media critic Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post about so-called news deserts and what they mean for U.S. democracy.