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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, September/October 2006

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

A couple of issues back, we looked at the changing infrastructure in distribution and exhibition--how the digital revolution continues at warp speed, with CEOs of upstarts as YouTube now being feted at the recent media and technology confab in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Television still thrives, but its key players are looking for ways to enhance its presence in the multi-platform mediaverse. Paula Kerger took the helm at PBS in March and is overseeing the dimension-expanding, multi-planar mission of continuing the lives of broadcasts through the ever-expanding range of formats and their ever-expanding capabilities and dynamics. Tamara Krinsky talks to Kerger about how PBS is engaging the media landscape.

As part of the PBS family, the Independent Television Service (ITVS) has served many purposes in its 15 years as a supporter of independent media, through its funding program, its Independent Lens series, its outreach efforts, its international initiatives and its innovative Internet-based endeavors such as Electric Shadows. Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS' president and CEO, and Claire Aguilar, director of programming, sat down with Lily Ng to reflect on their accomplishments over the past decade and a half and their vision for keeping independent media on the radar.

We as a magazine and as an organization have focused a lot of attention on the Academy Awards, with the annual Oscars Reception for the nominees in the documentary categories; DocuDay, the screening of the Oscar-nominated docs; and DocuWeek, the theatrical showcase for qualifying films for Academy Award consideration, the program for which can be found in the middle of this issue.

But there are other awards out there that are arguably as prestigious and noteworthy. The Emmy Awards, of which there are several strands, honor documentary and nonfiction programs in many categories. The Primetime Emmys, which come out of the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), have, over the years, added subcategories in individual achievement and have further parsed the distinction among documentary, nonfiction and reality programming. The New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which oversees the News & Documentary Emmys as well as the Sports Emmys, introduced this year a significant new category: Achievement in Content for Non-Traditional Delivery Platforms. Andrea Van Hook sorts out the aforementioned awards programs, as well as the International Emmys.

With a shared history that predates television, both the George Foster Peabody Awards and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards--launched in 1941 and 1942, respectively--have honored excellence in broadcast journalism, with a plethora of the greatest documentaries to have graced the airwaves having been cited over the years. Ron Sutton talks to representatives from both programs about how they've figured in the history of the television medium.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White