November 11, 2014
PBS promises “Olympic-style” coverage of Miami Book Fair
by Nick Davies
With the Miami Book Fair kicking off later this month, PBS has announced that it would be offering thorough, “Olympic-style” coverage of the festival. This is something of a misnomer, since they don’t seem to mean that they’ll be airing events with a several-hour delay, edited to showcase only American authors everyone has heard of, padded with human interest fluff pieces featuring Jim Lehrer sampling the local cuisine.
Elizabeth Jensen writes for the New York Times that the public broadcaster is moving in on territory that has been, for the most part, reserved for C-Span, a partner in the festival since it started in 1984. But because C-Span focuses heavily on non-fiction, PBS has seized on the opportunity to offer more comprehensive coverage.
Many events will be streamed live online by PBS.org and local affiliate websites, as well as on Book View Now, a site set up for the purpose of the book fair. “PBS NewsHour” culture correspondent Jeffrey Brown and author Kelly Corrigan will act as hosts, taking viewers between various live panels and pre-taped interviews with authors such as Richard Ford, Emma Straub, Judy Blume, Questlove, and poet Mark Strand.
Festival co-founder Mitchell Kaplan said he “jumped on it” when approached with the idea by Detroit Public Television, which came up with the idea for streaming coverage. DPT will also be producing the coverage, with support from a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Ian Rubenstein, senior vice president at PBS Digital, says they expect an audience of thousands for the live streams, but that because all the video will be archived online, it will continue to grow and attract attention to the Miami Book Fair.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.