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Since 2010, PBS's Washington Week has had a Ron Fournier problem. [View All]

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-08-12 04:38 AM
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Since 2010, PBS's Washington Week has had a Ron Fournier problem.
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Ron Fournier used to be in charge of Washington D.C. news for AP.

Ron loved him some Rove, sending him gushing emails about Ron's prayers for a Republican takeover of the world (okay, not literally, but close).

Ron's Rove love prompted an essay from the left-leaning Media Matters entiled "The AP has a Ron Fournier Problem."

One email exchange about the death of Tillman:

In one email, Rove asked, "How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?" Fournier responded: "The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight."

That sign-off, which seemed to indicate an allegiance between the two men, raised hackles all over the Internet. That kind of correspondence ("Keep up the fight") between a reporter and a partisan White House aide during a campaign year lands way outside the boundaries of acceptable newsroom practices.

The notion that some supposedly objective journalist was partnering with Rove in a fight raised hackles in the other tribe.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, Ron is now editor in chief of the National Journal.

So, now, the National Journal has a Ron Fournier problem. And that's how the Fournier problem spread to PBS.

Back in 2005, Washington Week had entered into an editorial partnership with the National Journal.

Washington Week Forges Editorial Partnership with "National Journal"

For Immediate Release: April 29, 2005

Washington, D.C. Washington Week, the longest-running news and public affairs program on public television, has forged an editorial partnership with National Journal, the nonpartisan publication that for 36 years has been dedicated to providing comprehensive coverage of the politics and policy of the federal government.

The program, which will now be known as Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal, broadcasts live each Friday evening at 8 p.m. ET on more than 300 PBS stations nationwide, reaching 1.3 million households. Ifill has been moderator and managing editor of Washington Week since October 1999. Each week, a rotating panel of the nations best reporters join Ifill for a conversation examining the weeks top news stories. The new partnership begins with the broadcast of February 17.


Since its inception in 1967 as one of the first national series on PBS, Washington Week has established a reputation for editorial integrity and balance. At the core of the show are its panelists. They are reporters not pundits shedding light, not heat. Regular panelists on Washington Week represent the most respected news organizations in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine, among others.

As if there was any such thing as a nonpartisan political journal, even in 2005! And WAPO and WJS were not exactly icons of objective journalism in 2005, either.

I would imagine the partnership with PBS, which many consider to be unalloyed, made the National Journal even more valuable to a purchaser.

In any event the Journal, which had been founded in 1969 by a Democrat, was bought out in 2010. And Ron Fournier is now its editor.

Which is how Washington Week came to have a Ron Fournier problem.

And therein lies a cautionary tale. Things change, especially the stockholders of a corporation or, for that matter, the owners of any business. So, beware when partnering with a business.

Heck, even individual human beings change. Saints become sinners and sinners get born again or re-virgined or whatever..

National Journal, winner of three National Magazine Awards, was founded in 1969 with a commitment to provide nonpartisan, comprehensive coverage of the executive branch. Since then, the weekly publication has expanded to also cover Congress and other arms of the federal government, providing substantive analysis from its staff of top-flight reporters, emphasizing insight for insiders.

Washington Week is a perfect fit with National Journals editorial mission, said Charles Green, editor of National Journal. We both help our audiences understand the context, history and potential impact of the debate, not just the headlines of the day.

Washington Week has won numerous awards in its history, including the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award and a CINE Golden Eagle. Ifill was recently named the recipient of the First Amendment Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation. In October 2004, Ifill was selected to moderate the vice presidential candidates debate. In addition to its regular weekly half-hour program, Washington Week has often produced special editions on major news events, most recently the hearings on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to a seat on the Supreme Court. Washington Week provided nightly wrap-ups and analysis for each day of the hearings, examining the story from many perspectives.

The executive producers of Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal are Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan. The senior producer is Chris Guarino. Corporate funding is provided by Boeing Company and by Chevron. Major funding is provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by PBS.

WETA is the third-largest producing station in the public television system and the flagship public broadcaster in the nations capital. In addition to Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal, WETA productions and co-productions include The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, In Performance at the White House and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns. For more information on WETA and its programs, visit the Web site at .

National Journal Group is the leading Washington media enterprise whose properties include National Journal, CongressDaily, The Hotline, and Technology Daily. Since 1969, National Journal Group has provided insight for insiders through nonpartisan publications that cover all the power players in Congress, the executive branch, the lobbying world, and beyond. More information is available at .

So, now, PBS and Washington Week have a Ron Fournier problem.
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