PBS has confirmed its plans to create a stand-alone news website in partnership with its local New York affiliate, WNET. The announcement follows the news Rafat broke yesterday about the new site, which we noted will launch in May. The
site program related to the as-yet-unnamed web destination — is to be called Need To Know. The company describes the site as a “supervertical” that will allow PBS to aggregate all of its news and public affairs content along with content from other partners. In addition to the site, will also be a corresponding weekly, hour-long broadcast that will debut on May 7.
John Boland, PBS’ Chief Content Officer, who devised the initiative, said that Need To Know is meant as a response to the “crisis in journalism,” referring to the upheaval in the news industry in the face of tens of thousands of layoffs and the transition from traditional to new media.
For the most part, the site and the accompanying TV program are also a part of recent moves by the network to deepen its online offerings. Last month, PBS revamped The Newshour program. Those changes also included an update of the website, highlighted by a partnership with digital news site GlobalPost to supplement its international coverage. On top of refurbishing The Newshour, PBS began reworking The Nightly Business Report as well.
Need To Know appears to be something of an adjunct operating between PBS’ current daily news programs, such as Washington Week roundtable discussion and its Frontline documentary series. The site and program will cover five primary beats: the Economy; the Environment and Energy; Health; Security; and Culture. The stories, interviews, blogs and photo features will be continually added to and updated online, with the production teams soliciting commentary and ideas from online readers and users.