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Study points to ways public media could build teen and tween audience — and risks of not trying – Current



A report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop released in May made plain what had already been clear to some for years: Public media isn’t on the radar of many tweens and teens.

Researchers for the CPB-backed study arrived at their findings with the help of 50 interviews with participants from 10- to 17- years old. Some of the interviewees’ comments are a gut punch: “I don’t feel like I’m ever gonna really get back into watching TV, but I do know a lot of people aren’t gonna watch PBS anymore, ‘cause it’s mostly Curious George and stuff like that,” said a 14-year-old from Bossier City, La. “[It’s] little kid shows.”

A 14-year-old from New York City said, “I’ve grown out of the side that caters to kids and moved on to stuff that suits older audiences like documentaries and reality shows. I do occasionally happen to stumble by kid shows from PBS, but that’s basically it.” 

Some participants said they’re fans of PBS’ children’s programming and nonfiction shows such as cooking programs, but interviewees also “hesitated or expressed confusion” when asked what public media meant to them, according to the report.

“Overall, our interviews suggest that there is a significant gap in youth understanding of the value of public media as something distinct from commercial media,” researchers wrote in the report’s conclusion. “Those with prior public media exposure generally have positive associations with shows and characters from their early childhood, but most dropped off as viewers in elementary school and do not currently see their interests reflected in the offerings of their local stations.”

Titled “The Missing Middle: Reimagining a Future for Tweens, Teens, and Public Media,” the study was commissioned by CPB “because we recognized that public media needs to better understand teens and tweens and how they interact with media to better serve this audience,” said Deb Sanchez, SVP of education and children’s content operations, in a statement.

“The findings will help to inform future content development, local station projects, and potential partnerships,” Sanchez said, adding that the report will also influence American Graduate, public media’s workforce initiative. 

If heeded, the study could motivate public media to produce more programs with teens and tweens in mind, said Monica Bulger, a senior fellow at the Cooney Center and co-author of the “Missing Middle” report. Public media can leverage its strengths by increasing its brand awareness among teens and tweens, Bulger said, which may be necessary for its long-term viability.

“Expecting people who are engaged as children to become engaged as an adult might be missing this important developmental phase where they could really be engaging with trusted quality content throughout their adolescence,” Bulger said. “We risk, if we don’t engage them now, the teens and tweens of today might not as adults of tomorrow value public media or understand its value.”

‘Authentic representation’

“Missing Middle” named a handful of public broadcasting initiatives that are leading the charge in improving youth media efforts, including the WNET Group’s Youth Collective, an advisory board of high-school and early college students who help suggest programming that could engage teens. A Kentucky Educational Television program, News Quiz, is a weekly current-events program aimed at students.

Such examples demonstrate what is possible but “are still the exception rather than the rule,” the report said.

PBS declined to comment on the report, but in an interview with Cheddar in May, PBS Chief Programming Executive Sylvia Bugg said that PBS Digital Studios’ content can increase engagement with younger, diverse audiences. PBSDS channels and programs geared toward such audiences include It’s Lit, a literature show; Sound Field, which covers music; Monstrum, which focuses on myths and legends; and Voices, a channel that relaunched last year with a docuseries on the LGBTQ community and has continued to produce short documentaries.

Others in pubmedia are also using YouTube to reach younger audiences. Above the Noise, a series for teens produced by KQED in San Francisco, has discussed topics including unpaid internships, meat consumption, wildfires and voting. TPT in St. Paul, Minn., produced America From Scratch, a show about politics that is now on hiatus.

Public media also has the opportunity to create more content for teens and tweens with their involvement. “Youth are looking for other youth to connect with in these spaces,” Bulger said. “They want authentic representation. They don’t necessarily want programming for them — they want programming by them and with them.”

Participants in the “Missing Middle” study reinforced that finding. They generally said they wanted more programming produced by people in their age group, Bulger said, but added that there is still a need for educational content led by adult professionals.

A 17-year-old from New York City said she finds a real estate specialist’s TikTok videos inspiring because she also wants to become a businesswoman. Other participants said they learn arts skills from social media and YouTube. An 11-year-old from Bossier City, La., said she looks for trusted sources that can teach her life skills like “how to survive middle school.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests that how-to videos are a good place to start if public media wants to reach teens and tweens, Bulger said, because they leverage the system’s mission and expertise with education. “Youth are overserved on content and underserved in quality right now,” she said.

‘Creating a home for kids’

Ellen Doherty, CCO for Fred Rogers Productions, said the study’s findings confirm what she’s suspected for years and will influence the development of future programs, including for the 10- to 17-year-old age group.

“We have a small number of projects that are in development,” Doherty said, “but we’re looking at new platforms, not just traditional linear content.” She said future projects could be geared towards 8- to 11-year-olds, who have likely aged out of some PBS Kids programs.

Public media has set a precedent for distributing audio and video programs that have influenced tween and teenage media, Doherty said, citing Degrassi High and Bill Nye the Science Guy. It might take a coordinated effort among producers, programmers and PBS on a national level to distribute programs that can reach people on a variety of platforms, she said.

“I would look at putting content through that PBS syndication model but also having it live on YouTube and social media platforms,” Doherty said. “… Maybe a YouTube partnership will be a way to do this. There’s an opportunity, certainly — it’s just about creating a home for kids so they know where to go and have a destination to click to.”

The “Missing Middle” study also pointed to PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs as an example to be followed systemwide. Founded in 2009, SRL has partnered with public media stations and middle and high schools to help students produce local reporting, video projects and podcasts.

Some of the students’ work has been featured on NewsHour. One example is a March 14 segment about the perils of video conferencing, commonly called “Zoom fatigue.” John Barnes, a student at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, Va., co-led the segment with teacher Kathleen Akerley and SRL youth media producer Eli Kintisch.

Leah Clapman, founder of Student Reporting Labs, said that she has confirmed through focus groups that students have difficulty connecting with most news broadcasts. She learned through students that while leveraging new and emerging platforms like TikTok is important, it does not replace building an authentic connection with younger audiences.

Clapman also said it’s difficult to get some station leaders to engage with SRL. “We do work with stations, but in so many cases it’s a challenge to sell Student Reporting Labs to the leadership and get the buy-in that we need to do the work in a newsroom,” she said, adding that stations who do work with SRL discover that it’s rewarding to work with teens and tweens.

Improving connections with teens and tweens on a local level is needed to help stations navigate today’s media landscape, said Marie Cusick, an SRL youth media producer.

“It’s that cliché: You need to evolve or die,” Cusick said. “The audience is changing, the world is always changing, so how are you going to make sure that you’re still relevant to people in your community in the years and decades to come?”

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Reese Witherspoon’s Media Company Hello Sunshine Reportedly Sells for $900 Million – Vanity Fair



“This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter,” Witherspoon said of the sale to a media firm backed by private-equity group Blackstone Group Inc.

Reese Witherspoon’s five-year-old media company, Hello Sunshine, is expanding its reach. The starry entity, which was founded by Witherspoon in 2016, has been sold to a media firm backed by private-equity group Blackstone Group Inc, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Hello Sunshine has reportedly been valued at $900 million, people familiar with the deal told WSJ.

The company, which has already spawned a film and TV production company, its own VOD network (complete with Witherspoon’s first-ever talk show, Shine on with Reese), and book club, centers on stories by and for women. Hello Sunshine has produced films such as Gone Girl and Wild and shows including HBO’s Big Little Lies, Apple’s The Morning Show, and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere. “I’m going to double down on that mission to hire more female creators from all walks of life and showcase their experiences,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter.”

Reports began to circulate last month that Hello Sunshine was considering a sale and could receive a $1 billion valuation. The currently unnamed media partnership between Blackstone and Hello Sunshine will be headed by former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. Hello Sunshine is the first acquisition for the firm, which will retain Witherspoon and her company’s Chief Executive, Sarah Harden, as members of their board. Blackstone is reportedly shelling out more than $500 million in cash to purchase shares from Hello Sunshine’s investors.

The sale of Hello Sunshine to Blackstone is “part of a plan to build an independent entertainment company for Hollywood’s streaming era,” WSJ reports. It comes amidst a time when high-profile stars like Scarlett Johansson are bucking against the idea of their films debuting simultaneously on streaming and theatrically. Like projects of Hello Sunshine’s past, its upcoming slate includes adaptations of popular novels—the film Where The Crawdads Sing and Amazon series Daisy Jones and The Six.

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Senators Introduce Bill to Help Agencies Counter Deepfakes and Deceptive Media – Nextgov



Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee leaders moved to form a new federal task force to explore setting standards and deploying technologies for determining facts about the origins of digital content.

That cadre—the National Deepfake and Digital Provenance Task Force—would draw insights from across the public, private and academic landscapes and operate within the Homeland Security Department, according to legislation introduced by ranking member  Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Thursday. 

It’s meant to help chart a path forward for how DHS and other feds can work to counter the online spread of maliciously-made synthetic media.

Former U.S. diplomat Mounir Ibrahim told Nextgov Monday that this marks Congress’ first piece of legislation to explicitly hone in on digital content provenance, or the verifiable chronology of the inception and history of images, videos, documents, recordings or other electronic media. After years serving as a foreign service officer for the State Department, he’s now vice president of strategic initiatives for Truepic, a technology company specializing in image authenticity. 

Ibrahim explained that while many people base personal, financial, political and other vital decisions on what they see and hear online, they’re also facing “an explosion in the proliferation of image deception, fraud and fabrication tools readily available on any smartphone or computer.” 

“The most advanced of these image deception techniques are known as deepfakes, or wholly fabricated synthetic videos, which are already very, very realistic—but are still improving at a rapid rate,” he said.

Such videos use emerging technologies to make people appear to do or say things that they didn’t in reality. Bad actors have weaponized standard image deception methods through cheapfakes, which can be manipulated with cheaper and more accessible software than machine learning, for a variety of illicit purposes. Experts, Ibrahim noted, are also seeing advanced image deception via the more sophisticated, AI-enabled deepfakes, like those “used in illegal non-consensual pornography, which is very damaging.” Such weaponization could also be tapped for illicit purposes across government, business and society. The FBI warned several months ago that the methods are “almost certain” for corporate espionage and business fraud. 

But to Ibrahim, “perhaps worse than the fraud itself is the second-order effect of the erosion of trust online”—a concept known as the liar’s dividend. The idea is that as cheapfakes and deepfakes proliferate, they’ll increasingly undermine the trust in anything humans encounter online, even if it is true. 

“One example of this is the few people who suggested the video of George Floyd’s murder was a deepfake. Though that was not widely accepted, that is a snapshot of how the liar’s dividend can be weaponized,” Ibrahim said. “In short, the erosion of trust will turn into the erosion of our shared sense of reality.”

To confront that threat, the lawmakers’ 14-page legislation outlines their proposals for the makeup and responsibilities of the fresh DHS task force. 

The strategic group would be co-chaired by DHS and Office of Science and Technology Policy officials and include 12 members equally representing the government, private and academic sectors. Each of those selected would have technical expertise in artificial intelligence, media manipulation, cryptography, digital forensics or other relevant fields. They would consult the Energy, Defense and State secretaries, National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Science Foundation directors, among other agency leaders, over the course of their work.

Broadly, the ultimate intent of the task force would be to map out a coordinated plan for investigating how a digital content provenance standard could assist with reducing the dissemination of deepfakes, help advance tools for content creators to authenticate their media and its origins, and improve how the public and private sectors relay trust and information about digital content sources to the public.

“This commonsense bipartisan bill will help strengthen our nation’s ability to combat malicious attempts to spread lies and further divide the American people,” Peters said.

Ibrahim pointed out that this legislation comes not only as image-based deception is advancing rapidly—but also builds on a notable recommendation from the National Security Commission on AI’s comprehensive review. Specifically, the group called for the making of a new task force to consider standards for using technology to certify content authenticity and provenance. The bill also emerges as the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity is building an open standard for widespread adoption across the internet. Truepic, Intel, Adobe and others participate in the coalition.

“This is the most direct and informed legislation I have seen associated with digital content provenance,” Ibrahim said. “However, we have seen other nations move towards ensuring there is transparency and information on image fabrication available to content consumers.” 

Norway passed a law last month mandating social media influencers to disclose what alterations are made to digital content. The approach was also referenced in Australia’s mis- and disinformation code of practice. In the U.S., the legislation follows Portman’s Deepfake Report Act, which passed the Senate last year as a provision in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

“I would expect to see the approach [to provenance] begin to be understood and included in additional legislation in the US and abroad in the coming year or two,” Ibrahim said. 

Technology leaders from Truepic, Adobe, Microsoft, Arm and elsewhere expressed support for the senators’ proposal. The bill was referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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City of Brandon – August 2nd Media Release – City of Brandon –



For the last 24 hours:


At around 10:25 AM Sunday morning, an employee from Superstore reported that a male suspect had just stolen approximately $100 of meat from the store.  An officer on patrol spotted a male matching the description of the suspect, in the 200 block 10th Street and detained him.  Subsequently, the 30 year-old male was found to have the stolen product in his backpack and he was arrested for theft under $5000.  He was later released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on September 13th.

Breach of Probation:

Repeated reports were received from Superstore of a male, well known to both staff there and Police, being on their property despite being prohibited from attending.  The 27 year-old male was located on the store property and was arrested for failing to comply with a probation Order.  He was later released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on September 27th.

Flight from Police:

On July 20th, Police attempted to stop a moped / scooter that had been reported earlier for “ripping around” a south end parking lot.  The suspect was seen in the area of 1200 Hill Avenue and a stop was attempted; however, the suspect fled.  At the time of the incident, the license plate had been bent up to hide it.  Subsequent investigation revealed that an 18 year-old male had been the operator.  He was contacted and attended to the Police station on Sunday afternoon, where he was arrested for the criminal offence of flight from police, and issued tickets under the Highway Traffic Act.  He was released to appear in court on September 30th.

Drug Trafficking Charges:

Just before 2:00 AM this morning, a vehicle stop was conducted in the 2500 block Victoria Avenue.  A small quantity of cocaine was located in the vehicle.  As a result of the investigation, a 36 year-old male and a 25 year-old male, both from Brandon, were arrested for possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.  They were released from custody on appropriate police imposed conditions and are to appear in court on October 14th.  Additionally, the 36 year-old male was charged with theft under $5000 relating to him stealing a shop tool from Canadian Tire on June 30th.  He is to appear in court on October 18th on that charge.


Several other arrests related to intoxication which resulted in no charges but the subjects being held until sober. 



Acting Staff Sergeant D. Lockhart, #101

B Platoon


Anyone with information on any unsolved crime is asked to call Brandon Crime Stoppers at 204-727-(TIPS) 8477, or by texting BCSTIP and your message to CRIMES (274637).  Crime Stoppers pays up to $2000.00 cash for information that leads to the solution of a crime.


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