Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association Inc.

For on-air and online coverage of economic and financial literacy on The PBS NewsHour

  • Amount $1,500,000
  • City Arlington, VA
  • Investigator Simon Marks
  • Year 2009
  • Program Public Understanding
  • Sub-program Television

Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc., requests two years of funding for enhanced economics coverage on The PBS NewsHour (The NewsHour), both on-air and online. The NewsHour continues to be the most serious and effective news show on television and has impressively maintained an audience of 1.2 million viewers nightly, higher than every news show except Fox News and the networks. Sloan's 2008 grant for public understanding of economics on The NewsHour resulted in a very impressive output-twice the number of on-air spots by Paul Solman about economic and financial literacy as originally envisioned. A reviewer remarked of Solman: "Among us professors of economics he is regarded as the best economics reporter on television." Few people even try to achieve this, and none are as qualified as Solman or have a better platform from which to teach. As one reviewer noted, "His reports are as unbiased and accurate as the discipline of economics allows them to be. He rarely presents a perspective as his alone. Instead, he finds the relevant experts, and lets them speak for themselves." An important component of this grant is the Web site. Currently, The NewsHour Web site attracts about half a million visitors a week and about 100,000 visit the three Sloan-supported economics sites. Just under a million users have visited Solman's site in the past six months and 720,000 have downloaded his material. This request represents a 25% reduction from the previous grant-from $1 million to $750,000 per year-for 40 ten-minute economics segments on the show each year, plus enhanced educational outreach through the Web, social networking sites and other media. The reduction reflects in part our diminished financial resources and in part it is a signal to The NewsHour that we expect them to take very seriously our suggested improvements to their Web site and our desire to more prominently feature Paul Solman on it. Support of this series gives us a direct line to Solman for suggesting topics and guests and provides the Public Understanding of Science, Technology, Business, and Economics Program with an outstanding and cost-effective vehicle for providing strong, consistent, economics coverage.

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