Hari will be answering questions from the Reddit community live at 2p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 9. Please feel free to ask in advance of the live session.

My working world is spent sorting presentation, representation and misrepresentation, and helping tell people the value, meaning and importance of each. For most of my career, my work has been thrust at people through cathode ray tubes, but with the definition of television slowly tilting more toward appliance and less toward communication medium, I spend as much time (if not more) crafting my work for its infinite existence online as its ephemeral existence through the smattering of lights on glass at a specific time in a specific place.

I worked my way up through small and medium markets as was once the normal ladder in television news. I started at the ABC affiliate in Yakima, Washington, covering forest fires in the Yakima Nation and crime and punishment and slaughterhouses near the apple capital of America. I packed up everything I owned and drove to Raleigh, North Carolina, to work for a new NBC startup, where I started a tech beat covering the Research Triangle in between news of chicken farmers in Goldsboro or shootings in Fuquay-Varina. That helped me land a gig as a tech reporter at CNET, where I had a front-row seat to chronicle the dot-com bubble as it inflated and popped. The programs aired on the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) and USA Network, and briefly also on CNBC. As they say, I was HUGE in Singapore. After running my own production company for a couple of years in California, I was lucky to work as a correspondent for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings (someone I watched and admired ever since immigrating to this country). After anchoring their digital channel (ABC News NOW), reporting for a few of their shows (Nightline, Good Morning America, World News Tonight) I jumped networks and moved to Dallas, Texas, to work for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric for a couple of years. Looking back on it, I chased all sorts of weather stories for CBS -- from tornadoes and hurricanes to floods and droughts, with some wicked-long 20-hour days in the process that included thousands of miles in rental cars.

I’ve chosen to step away from those particular roles at the commercial networks because I saw (and still see) a great potential for public media in the United States. As the range of options increase in the type of content a consumer can ingest, the filter becomes all the more important. I think the PBS NewsHour is one of the last places to get substantive information from experts who know what they’re talking about and can disagree agreeably, versus… well… the alternative. We aim to be thoughtful and thought provoking. I think there are enough viewers out there who value quality, and hopefully the audience will support us and push us toward exercising our potential.

yes it's me. http://twitter.com/hari

Comments: 89 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

Justavian100 karma

What a travesty that this only got 14 points... I missed this when it was first posted.

EDIT: Wow. That's quite a turnaround. At 11pm eastern, it was at 14 points, and now it's up to 813.

sreenivasan23 karma

i've got a few meetings today till noon- but since SOTU is going on tonight- i'm happy to take questions throughout the day. will try to log back in. thanks for all your interest and asking smart questions. the IAMA experience has been a pleasure so far.

lilbowski30 karma

Whoa, how did I miss this IAMA.

Thanks for reporting real news.

Now, my question. I am quite serious.

Why are other news networks afraid of presenting news a la NewsHour? Strictly ratings?

sreenivasan20 karma

in my opinion- and that is what this is- not the opinion of the newshour or any other member of the staff- while the major networks started out their news operations motivated by public service, they have become audience businesses. when you are trying to go after what people want all day, the what benefits people can get lost in the shuffle. as i may have mentioned earlier, i have a great deal of respect for several of my colleagues who bust their chops every day to make the news as good as they can and wedge it into a 22 minute format, but this is one of the crucial differences between commercial and public media. We at public media are directly beholden to you the viewer. "viewers" like you" help keep the lights on. yes we get some portion of our money from the corporation for public broadcasting via pbs and it will be more difficult for us to continue if that funding were to evaporate, and we do get money from foundations and some corporations, but the pressures are very different, than having to answer to madison avenue advertising firms representing strictly corporate clients looking for very specific ROIs. Hope that helps. Looks like i'm drafted back into this IAMA. thanks for asking.

pilot303323 karma

i'm sorry i missed this AMA

a_few20 karma

that makes 200 of us

sreenivasan11 karma

i've got a few meetings till noon- today but i'll log back in a few times to see what else i can answer. + thanks to SOTU- it is a long long day for all of us at the pbs newshour.

pilot30334 karma

How do you feel the internet has affected TV journalism in the context of how it is currently affecting print media? With the abundance of cable news' talking heads (which I see as a desire to remain entertaining instead of relevant, getting views at the cost of information), what can be done, if anything, to keep traditional TV news both relevant and interesting?

sreenivasan6 karma

i think it has compressed time - in some good and bad ways. i like that we can access sources around the world almost instantly to get a better view of what is happening on the ground, sometimes in text, video, audio etc. However, i think our expectations of immediacy have become absurd. There are very few people able to slow things down a second and add context or perspective to what is/has just happened.

on cable news- the talking head is successful partly because it is cheap. a fiber window between say NY & CA may cost you 150 bucks or lets even say 500 bucks for 15 minutes. so lets say you have two "yellers" teed up at a thousand bucks to make for "compelling" television. compare that to what it costs to put someone out in the field. a reporter/ producer/camera - perhaps sound person together are going to cost you a few thousand dollars a day- and they're likely to deliver a taped piece that is a fraction of the total time. so if i'm the producer programming the hour- and i have a limited budget- cost comes into consideration at some point.

you know what's even cheaper- to take the feed from a helicopter during a car chase.

i think "traditional" in tv news is changing. the relevance question may be answered by preparing for the inevitable day that appointment viewing on a one-way box disappears. we have to stop thinking about television as a medium and look at it more as an appliance. in my opinion there may be very few reasons over time that we "tune-in" to a live event- perhaps breaking news with graphic imagery from a far-off place, perhaps sporting events, or the final rounds of some star search show... but people are shifting their viewing habits online. the resting state of information will be online- live viewing will be the anomaly.
i think the product is competing most of all for attention, so it has to be relevant to the viewer in order for us to give us their eyes for x period of time. there isn't any prescription for this- in my opinion it is more of a viewer's choice. i don't think the "news you can use" model works for anything more than morning television, or the lowest common denominator of local tv news. At some higher level, people are going to opt in to one of our correspondents report on a difficult-to-watch piece from a far off land even if the story from Sudan or Tunisia isn't news you can use.

pfkninenines21 karma

Not a question at all, but just wanted to thank you guys for what you do. I haven't been following NewsHour until recently, though with one of the more recent posts regarding WikiLeaks / DDoS attacks, I'm glad some news outlets understand terminology. Followed @NewsHour on Twitter so I'll be sure to see what you guys are up to in the future.

As for a question - If WikiLeaks would have given you / NewsHour what they did for New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, how would you have handled the situation?

sreenivasan29 karma

we don't have nearly as many staff members as those institutions but we would have reached out to partner perhaps with someone the likes of propublica to help sort through the data. as you've seen over the past few weeks, its not just raw data that tells a story, its context and perspective. thanks for following/watching us.

Mattdp16 karma

Hey Hari,

Thanks for doing this.

I think you've been a great addition to the NewsHour staff in the past year. Very much in the tradition. I also love the way you all have been embracing new media tools while staying true to your mission. A real example for other institutions.

I wonder how you see the media landscape playing out in the next few years. Are more or less people coming to the NewsHour? Is there hope for news sources that allow people to disagree w/o being disagreeable? How about for newscasters like the staff of the NewsHour, who let their show be about the news and not about the people who tell it?

In other words, years hence will we look back at the NewsHour today as a defunct sign of how the news should be reported, or as the first beacon in a new adult conversation?

sreenivasan29 karma

we'd like to keep enabling people to disagree agreeably about matters that matter. i think you learn more by hearing alternate views than your own. I don't think there are always simply two views on matters, but there are often more than one. the medium and mode seems less relevant to me over time.

I think we're at a fairly crucial crossroads at the moment. Just realize that in the very short time that i've tried to practice this craft- since the mid 90s- there have been such massive technological changes on how people have access to information, and i think all this points to the large potential for "filter failure" (as Clay Shirky puts it). Over time- regardless of the content, we come to trust the mavens on particular topics (gladwell's tipping point). today the web enables us to have particular feeds (be it twitter or rss or reading blogs) on views and content we trust when it comes to things we're interested in. we decide why we trust some people more or less and we'll probably ebb and flow between sources far faster in the future than we even do now. i'd hate to see a purely eye-ball driven world as was described by the old tv show max headroom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Headroom_%28TV_series%29 but i think what we're seeing are the beginnings of that. As i type this, its no suprise that all three cable channels went to the controlled fire/destruction of a house near san diego- because they know human instinct will lead our eyes to that screen... that said... does it matter at the end of the day? if you're giving me the most valuable thing on earth; your time, should i spend a few seconds or minutes telling you that? in my humble opinion- no. So i'm filtering for you. if you like how i filter, you'll stick with me. if you think i add value to your time, if you think i package things interestingly enough- you'll keep coming back. perhaps you'll make the same decision about the newshour.

Mattdp5 karma

Frankly, as long as you guys remain true to form, I have no doubt that I'll keep coming back.

I will come in different ways, tho', so it's important that you continue to adapt.

2 years ago I was a nightly DVR-watcher. I'd fast forward thru maybe 15 minutes, but always seemed to have time for at least 45 minutes.

Today I have a son and more demanding career responsibilities, so while I've still got you on record, it's more and more of a rare treat for me to able to sit and watch.

But I'm still getting plenty of NewsHour content. I subscribe to the Twitter feed so that keeps me up thru' the day. And I read the morning politics line in my email inbox.

Frankly it's usually content that I also see out of the corner of my eye on other sources. But I trust when it comes from the NewsHour, b/c I trust Jim Lehrer, Ray Suarez, Gwen Ifel and everyone else. So I'm willing to read or watch NewsHour content over, say, the Times, b/c I don't feel like I have to worry with you about getting an ideological or sensationalist slant. I know I need an information filter, like you say. I want one that I can trust is filtering with as good and as fair-minded an eye as possible. Which is why I prefer the NewsHour to everyone else.

So you've got me.

But I'm not enuf. So I'm worried: how many other people do you guys have? Does the future look secure, or scary?

sreenivasan18 karma

i don't think the future is secure at all. i'm not saying that to scare anyone- but whether we are public or private media- the existing ad supported business models don't work. its just a matter of time before the expense accounts of the "Mad Men" dry up and they won't be able to pull the wool over company/ foundation X's eyes and convince them that they should still spend the bulk of their funds on a time stapled broadcast.

It has been at least eight years since i got my tivo - and i haven't watched tv at the time the networks scheduled them for me. there are rare live events- such as the superbowl- but there- the ads are actually worth skipping back to watch... but there is very little i value on the large screen that has to be watched at a specific time- breaking news is often one of the exceptions.

i appreciate that you consider us a treat. you are absolutely right that in this environment we have to fight to stay relevant by bringing our content to you wherever you are. If you have an ipad, check out flipboard and select the newshour as one of your feeds, our layouts really look fabulous on it (and i say that as a non-iphone/ipad owner). we have audio podcasts of almost all the content that goes online including the entire broadcasts, if you have a long commute, we have rss feeds that you can subscribe to as well as twitter, and we have an iphone app http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/09/any-hour-can-be-your-a-newshour-going-mobile.html We are also generating a LOT of ORIGINAL content online everyday on our rundown blog http://pbs.org/newshour/rundown and throughout the site.

oberon4 karma

Subscribed to the rundown blog.

What's the best way that I (as a person who spends huge amounts of time online but almost no time in front of the television) can support you and your news organization?

sreenivasan2 karma

thanks for the offer. if you enjoy our content, share it, spread the word about it. obviously if you find value in it, support your local pbs station when they ask you for funds. don't be a stranger. we're on twitter, on facebook, on youtube, ustream, have commenting through disqus, etc. etc. - stay in conversation with us, we'd love your input on stories we've done or stories we ought be doing. we are YOUR media.

crizmon3 karma

Your mention of tivo reminded me that mine spontaneously started recording BBCA news - this is the first televised news I have watched in many years where I felt I was being informed without the Idiocracy or Faux elements.

I will give NewsHour a go, and RSS to the rundown.

This is an AMA so I need a question: What do you think it would take to get an intelligent news/journalism TV show to capture a significant audiences? Is there even a market for non-biased, un-hyped, sports-free, celebrity-free, science-literate, reporting on American television?

sreenivasan2 karma

i think its the last bit- American television - that makes it a much larger challenge. otherwise i think there are several places on earth, where people don't just stomach or endure what you are talking about- but actually enjoy being informed. part of it- i'll admit are changing times, compressed timelines, added performance pressures, but we are a pretty tough market for the competition of attention. thanks for giving us a look.

edubation10 karma


sreenivasan6 karma


edubation2 karma

I didn't realize that you were still going.

I don't even know what to ask. Sadly, I don't watch the Newshour as much as I listen to NPR, but I just want to say that public media was the tipping point away from libertarian thought. God bless you guys for putting out real news.

sreenivasan3 karma

thanks for participating.

teresagorman9 karma

Via the PBS NewsHour Facebook page from Don Mitchell of Canada:

I've often wondered how stories get "divvied up" for lack of a more polished word!!! I know, for example, that Jeff Brown always covers "Art Beat" but as to the other news, do each of the major reporters have their own "specialties/interests"?!? For example, the incredible Margaret Warner travels alot.......I assume then, that that would be her preference as opposed to Judy Woodruff who seems to mostly stay.

I know this next one is going to be asked more than a few times, but do Mark Shields and David Brooks actually get along?!? It sounds even more trite as I'm writing it and I know that they are at quite different ends of the political spectrum but truly wondered if "off-air" they are friends?!?!? Mark Shields is one of my all-time favourites......I never miss him on Inside Washington either, though I have to suffer (and, no offense intended) but I do mean SUFFER through Charles Krauthammer...sorry, Charles but you're just TOO MUCH!!! Just curious as to their off-the-air relationship!!! Thanks, in advance, for considering my question(s)! A HUGE Canadian fan......

sreenivasan15 karma

you are right in that there are rough "beats"... but our anchors are versatile enough to pinch hit for other beats as well. Ray Suarez does a lot more global health pieces, and Margaret covers more foreign affairs/ national security issues and so on but on any given day they maybe interviewing heads of state or having conversations/discussion on a range of topcs.... There are also correspondents who are more focused Paul Solman covers business/ economic news... and Fred De Sam Lazaro brings us social entrepreneurship pieces from around the world, and John Merrow covers education and our most recent addition- Miles Obrien helps bring science and tech to our audience through our new science page http://www.pbs.org/newshour/topic/science/ David Chalian is our political director- you can catch his insights on the Morning Line emails that you can also see on our Politics page http://www.pbs.org/newshour/topic/politics/

DGFM1 karma

Hari...thank you so much for that most insightful answer!! Truly appreciate it and the opportunity to inter-act with you in this way. Awesome!!!!! Thanks again. Canada loves you!!!!!

sreenivasan7 karma

i love canada. Expo 86 rocked.

Be_Are9 karma

I don't watch much news because I have trouble taking a lot of things seriously that they report on, but I like the honesty that comes through in your post and your replies here, so I'm gonna start tuning in!

sreenivasan6 karma

thank you. we look forward to it.

AustraLucy9 karma

I just want to thank you for seeming to be one of the few journalists left who actually care about their work.

sreenivasan15 karma

there are several of us out there. at times i do feel like i should have succumbed to the pressures of growing up and Indian and become a Doctor or Engineer but i'm good with this for now.

[deleted]9 karma

Hey, just one question. Have you ever met Jim Lehrer? If so, on a scale of 1 to 10, how awesome is he?

sreenivasan12 karma

i meet him most mornings. he ebbs and flows between a 7 and 9 of awesomeness. what most people don't get is that he is still curious about the world - whether it be volunteering to skype us back while on his book tour, make promos for our iphone app, he gets it.

Fountainhead8 karma

Hey dude! You don't get the love you deserve for the questions you ask brooks and shields. It's very informal and it's really fun to listen too (via podcast) Keep it up and I'm sad they don't have it on podcast as often, or maybe i've just missed your last couple. At any rate... right on!

That said, why does Shields always get like 30 - 60 sec. more than brooks? (not when you interview them, more on the political wrap)

sreenivasan8 karma

in my opinion- mark just takes a bit more time to get to his answers. he is a very smart and very funny guy in person. i don't think it is any sort of secret conspiracy. we're just polite. goes back to allowing people to disagree agreeably. thanks for watching the doubleheader. we love doing the extra segment. we're contemplating doing it live pretty soon for our web audience. lemme know if you can motivate a reddit army to help me convince shields and brooks.

Fountainhead6 karma

I love it as it is now. I don't really care if it's live. It's something I look forward to all week a few hours aren't going to make a difference. If anything I think you should ask more hard ball questions rather than laid back questions. After all you are talking to brooks and shields. Don't let brooks get away with dumbed down answers to your education questions, he is an authority. Ask him about child development in relation to education. Ask shields hard questions about the future. Shit the guy should know, he has the experience to answer anything. Ask him point blank if he thinks Palin will run. Shields is old enough to answer anything. give him time to answer, but ask. No one else does, he's wasted if people don't ask.

sreenivasan4 karma

will take that into consideration. right now our formula seems to click partly because so many people have no idea how smart these guys are on all sorts of other topics- especially sports. the politics end of the conversation- we are aiming to discuss the things that are relevant and newsworthy now, but aren't necessarily going to be discussed by them with Jim or another anchor on the main broadcast. thanks for the suggestion.

Florafolia8 karma

My first "try" at Reddit. I think I missed Hari's open mik today but will look forward to joining in another day. I like your contributions to Newshour, Hari--your're a fine addition to the Team.

sreenivasan9 karma

thanks flora.

sreenivasan7 karma

Thanks for all the up votes over the past day- but it makes me wonder a bit about the down votes? Is this a love/hate index? Are people down voting this so other things can rise to the top? Break me off a piece of martian wisdom please. thanks.

tommygh5 karma

It's part of the Reddit system to keep inflated/false stories from reaching the frontpage. It's mostly computer votes to keep it in check, don't worry it's not really a love/hate thing, mostly love.

sreenivasan3 karma

many thanks.

BarbaricEric5 karma

If I want to watch the nightly news, I will only watch PBS NewsHour. Thank you and the rest at PBS NewsHour for delivering neutral and informative news.

sreenivasan2 karma

thank you for watching. please tell your friends to give us a try, on-air, online via podcasts, rss, on mobile etc. etc.

lambertb5 karma

Love the show, and have been watching on and off since the mid 80s. Some amazing shows during the fall of Communism. Anyway, you've been a good addition. I have a superficial question that I hope you won't mind. You are by far the best dressed anchor, and I wonder where you buy your clothes :-)

Keep up the good work.

sreenivasan3 karma

thanks lambertb. this is public media- i buy my own clothes. i wouldn't call myself much of a fashonista or even have a clue as to what's hip/cool etc. (as many of my friends will confirm) - & i'm a penny pincher with clothes (perhaps because in some ways i know that many of the products are coming from the hands of my South Asian brothers and sisters, and i'm not a fan of paying for the markup). a trip to century 21 in manhattan can last me a year.

skorsak5 karma

What did you study in college?

sreenivasan6 karma

I was trying for a double major in politics/ government and philosophy and a minor in communications - and ended up flipping that choice when i endured a course called Logic.

TbroOnline5 karma

Hari do you feel the reddit community has a fair view of the recent news around the TSA screenings or is it a bit of mob mentality?

If the Newshour had a meme, what would it be?

sreenivasan19 karma

Mob conjures some negative imagery- the community was able to raise a significant amount of money for a good cause and propel the march for sanity... so i don't want to automatically assume the worst when people come together around an idea. A couple of years ago i was was traveling enough to earn exec platinum on American Airlines (100,000 + miles in one year) which i think qualifies me to say- tsa isn't one monolithic thing. If i haven't shaved the morning of my flight- Do i get the extra pat-down for being brown- you bet- more often than not. underlying the frustration with the scanners and the pat-downs seemed to be a push for profiling - hey i don't wanna get xray machine, i don't wanna get the pat down- but if the guy looks like.... ya know... hari.... well for the good of the country, please do subject him to an indignity that he must not feel like i do. grrr...
do i take it out on the screener or my fellow passengers every time? no. you wanna wear a kilt as protest, thats your business, but bottom line i think people act in their own best interests, and peer pressure is a powerful thing. i think one of the reasons the tsa bottleneck protests failed is that no one wants to piss off 25 real life humans, standing all around them- grandmas, and kids, all waiting to get to their families. its one thing to rally the troops in a virtual arena, its much harder to execute this idea in the real world. That said our TSA time experiment http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/11/tweet-your-thanksgiving-travel-tsa-screening-experience.html helped cut through the noise. If there going to be mass scale protests, our tool would help find them, as there weren't our tool helped tell that narrative as well. The Newshour (almost no media organization) can afford to have people at security lines everywhere to tell that story,

sreenivasan13 karma

sorry - i forgot the bit about the meme- i've sent your Q around the newsroom... not in marketing speak etc... but when it comes to our discussions i'd say

disagree agreeably on matters that matter....

but that doesn't encompass so much more of what we do... so perhaps a sound filter through the noise?

[deleted]2 karma

disagree agreeably on matters that matter....

I'd buy that T-shirt. Or tote bag.

Thanks so much for this AMA, and coming back!

sreenivasan2 karma

start a meme with that t-shirt... who knows- you may singlehandedly save public media. if this community can motivate marches for sanity-saving public media might be small potatoes.

TbroOnline2 karma

so follow up - "you wanna wear a kilt as protest", can you make this a Newhour pledge item?

sreenivasan13 karma

ha. other ideas that bubbled back from the newsroom about memes Vanessa Dennis added #10minutes Chris Amico chimed in with #slownews citing http://mediactive.com/2009/11/08/toward-a-slow-news-movement/

[deleted]4 karma

This may be an inappropriate question and I apologize if it's in bad taste, but how much of a pay or (opportunity) cut was it to go to PBS and could you elaborate on your decision to make that move. I ask because I think you have the charisma to be, say, the next Anderson Cooper. That's quite a bit of celebrity and wealth to set aside.

Now that I think about it, do you think it's possible for a show like the News Hour to establish something akin to that "star power" and bring in a new audience . I may be completely wrong but I think that people who watch Frontline and American Experience are your expected viewership. How can you pull eyes from MSNBC or FOX? Does that sort of thing even matter in the Public Broadcasting world?

Again, thank you for taking the time to do this AMA.

sreenivasan5 karma

perfectly fair question. in my situation probably about 30% cut but again, i didn't enter this profession for the cash, and i thought the opportunity here outweighed the ones i had at my previous employer at the time. i'm fortunate to have what i have in my life already, perhaps because i have a different benchmark considering where and how i grew up.

in terms of your star power question, i wonder whether it hasn't changed how we perceive the nature of news. is it the star presenting the information that should be the story or the story itself? i'm kind of a fan of making the information or the data the star, and staying out of the way as much as possible- but that perhaps is an antiquated way of thinking... who knows.

I don't think we're out (at least i'm not) trying to pull from msnbc & fox. i'd like to speak to an audience that wants to process information from more than a particular point of view. there really is no point for me in competing with an echo chamber, and i don't think it benefits us to have our guests yell at each other, or clutter up our viewing experience with lots of nfl style dancing robot graphics. so i want a smarter audience, and i also want to help build a smarter audience.

IAmA_Nerd_AMA4 karma

I'm curious what has drawn you to Reddit. Do you feel that the sorting of topics and dialog by massive peer review is a useful way of disseminating and reacting to information? Do you participate because it's a tool of sorts, the beginning of a media-review system, or just a community with similar interests?

sreenivasan3 karma

i'm not someone who necessarily surfs the front page or is checking out what's hot. i find more value in the topic subsections. i use the smart users who are active in these communities as filters.

redshrek4 karma

What's it like working with Gwen Ifill and Jim Lehrer?

sreenivasan13 karma

a pleasure. i get starstruck every once in a while.

kbourgoin4 karma

Hey Hari,

I just want to write another note of thanks for the work everyone at the NewsHour does. I started watching regularly about a month ago and I'm continually impressed by the quality of news that is produced. In particular, I greatly appreciate that NewsHour's guests tend to be people who actually do something (i.e. heads of organizations, current/former senators) than simply talking heads, and that they're given enough time to fully explain their nuanced positions. I also greatly appreciate that everyone who comes on your show is able to disagree peacefully and civilly. It's been an eye-opening and informative experience.

As a question - Given that you've worked both in commercial outlets and now public media, what would you say the overall affect of that commercial aspect is? There must be significant competition from cable news to 'sex' up the broadcast, and probably pressure from advertisers not to focus on certain things. What external pressures did you have there that you don't now, and does that make NewsHour better for not having them?

sreenivasan12 karma

i'll say with all honesty that neither when i worked at abc news for Peter Jennings, or for Katie Couric and CBS News did i ever feel any sales guy breathing over my scripts or preventing me from pitching an idea. That said- the big difference i see is the one you appropriately highlighted- which is the amount of time we have to do a story. I think the Newshour has a luxury in this area- one provided by viewers like you- to examine topics with some depth and perspective in a way that i simply could not have done at the networks. With the exception of a piece or two i would have done for Nightline or CBS Sunday Morning, there simply are fewer vehicles at the networks to do deeper dives into topics. Thanks for watching, and tell your friends that there in fact is an intelligent alternative to the yelling matches that seem to pass for news these days.

dirtymick3 karma


I just want to say a very heartfelt thank you to you, and all the folks at NewsHour, for doing what you do. This program, along with NPR, are probably the last bastions of fact-based news presentation we have left.

Keep fighting.

sreenivasan3 karma

we'll keep trying. thanks.

Crizack3 karma

What are your thoughts on Wikileaks, is it good, bad, or neither? It seems that the news media often starts from the false premise that leaks are inherently bad. I'd say the Wikileaks makes for a better informed public in that it allows one to verify the content being reported.

sreenivasan9 karma

i'm for as much open and transparent information as the next guy- i just think raw data needs context to be of any use. people usually express high minded intentions but engage in lowest effort behavior. for as much hype wikileaks has garnered with its wholesale repositories, i'm guessing the nyt/guardian/spiegel retail recaps are probably still what most people are choosing to read. it is a bit like wanting to support independent stores- but then favoring low prices and shopping at walmart. your suggestion supposes that the public will actively seek out information instead of waiting for it passively. it also supposes that they have all the cognitive capacity to glean facts, the capability to make nuanced comparisons, a comfort level in the grey areas of life....

collective mainstream media preys on the opposite.

sreenivasan2 karma

Alright folks- looks like you're out of Questions. State of the Union time... We'll be livestreaming - http://bit.ly/ustreamsotu translating http://bit.ly/translateSOTU annotating - and trying some new HTML 5 tricks... all our plans at http://to.pbs.org/hvRj58. I'll try and check in again at some point tonight for a few more questions, but otherwise thanks for your time.

coffeesippingbastard2 karma

mother of god I hope you come back!

One question- exactly what does it take to get into the field of broadcast journalism? Or even written journalism for that matter? I find that there's a stunning lack of well informed science writing across most major outlets, and even with PBS and NPR while it's not on the poor quality of CNN- it still leaves something to be desired. I'm not asking for a job so much of a- dear god I would write articles for free if it meant more in depth science/technology writing being included in the media.

sreenivasan2 karma

in general - most broadcasts have walked away from solid science coverage. you might be pleased to hear that the PBS NEWSHOUR invested in more pieces by Miles OBrien this year, and relaunched our science pages. check it out- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/topic/science/

radiomatthew2 karma

PFKnin: Aljazeera reported that Wikileaks attempted to give the information to CNN, PBS NewsHour and ABC News -- but none would sign confidentiality agreements.

sreenivasan8 karma

i can say that i was never approached, i'd like to know the Al J reporter's source to say the PBS Newshour had been contacted- and if so who.

ryanjz1 karma

On the topic of Wikileaks, is there a developing narrative that your organization is attempting to cultivate, regarding the State Department activities described in the leaked cables? Pro Wikileaks Con Julian Assange? That seems to be the "company line" for many orgs.

sreenivasan13 karma

given, i've only been at the organization for a year now, but i don't think we try to cultivate an overarching narrative. perhaps i'm misinterpreting your question- but we let the story develop and when there are important moments in it, we report them. bp spill for example- we didn't go into it with a narrative that bp or the government estimates on the spill were correct. Chris Amico and Dave Gustafson and Vanessa Dennis built our ticker- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/05/how-much-oil-has-spilled-in-the-gulf-of-mexico.html which let you base your estimate of the spill's size based on the narrative that you believed. what we found was that the initial "narrative" was incorrect- and we would have been as well- if we chose to believe one interpretation of the impact of wikileaks.

i think its a stupid thing to be pro/anti assange/wikileaks. in the longer horizon- its a story- keep listening to alternative view points, and empower your viewers to make up their own minds (that is of course if you think your viewers are smart enough- and we at the newshour do think they are smart enough). thanks for your question.

borkborkbork1 karma

This is perhaps a less substantive question than others, but I've often wondered about it. Do you and the other journalists wear your own clothes on camera, or is there a wardrobe person? And is that at all different in for-profit tv journalism?

sreenivasan1 karma

own clothes. no wardrobe person.