Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Channel thirteen: Charlotte Mangin and John DeNatale

Producers at Channel thirteen, one of the largest PBS affiliates, like to think that every story has value – from New Yorkers who play music in subway stations to former child soldiers in Uganda.

Channel thirteen produces much of the content that appears nation-wide on other affiliates. Students sat down with Wide Angle coordinating producer Charlotte Mangin and John DeNatale, executive producer and director of local programming, to discuss the effects of the Web and the current economic situation on their productions.

Charlotte Mangin

Wide Angle takes a character-driven approach to covering issues in other nations throughout the world, producing, commissioning or acquisitioning about 10 45-minute documentaries a year. The staff has been to 60 countries thus far and constantly seeks out new places to be.

Producing documentaries in house can be costly – up to $250,000 to create a piece. Budgets have become an issue as Wide Angle was recently asked to reduce its budget by 25 percent, Mangin said. This means fewer films the staff can produce in-house, she said.

Wide Angle used to just use online to supplement their features and include extra bits online that did not fit into the televised production. Now, Mangin said, they try to tell stories through multiple angles and means.

John DeNatale

DeNatale, who worked on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer prior to shifting to local New York coverage, is interested in the role reporters play and how reporting is driven by the medium and style.

Young reporters need to be able to do good reporting in all ways – to become “media neutral,” DeNatale said. He said a lot of what is being done in his line of work is shifting to “one man bands,” where one person handles all aspects of the story – reporting, video, sound, etc.

While this style is daunting, it has become more of a necessity for economic reasons, he said. Even though reporters should be able to do it all, this does not necessarily mean they’ll always be doing it, he said. Part of the reason for the digital shift is that people want the news when it happens, DeNatale said.

“I think there will always be a place for vigorous journalism,” DeNatale said. “I don’t think the newsroom is going to be replaced anytime soon.”

Check out the video below to hear more from DeNatale.

-Derek Casanovas and Jasmine Linabary

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