Still, the presence of this segment calls into question one of the stated innovations of Newshour Weekend: the local news window. The part of the program where “The Connection” ran was the segment designed to allow for local stations to put their own local reports. However, many PBS stations in some of the largest markets, including New York’s WNET, where the national broadcast was produced, broadcast the program untouched.
The Sunday telecast was also a reminder of the squeezed resources of the current NewsHour. the discussion on Syria featured an extended interview with a USA Today reporter on Obama’s chances in the congressional vote, and later featured a three-minute interview with the NewsHour’s political editor on the non-Syria Congressional agenda, meaning that on Sunday, the segment profiling Sondheim was the only real field report that edition; everything else was either Sreenivasan reading over tape gathered by others or interviewing reporters via satellite.
So is the NewsHour Weekend worth watching? Well, it does have a sense of urgency and pacing forced by being half the length of the weekday program. The “signature segments” are strong enterprise reports worth watching, and the increased focus on arts, if the Sondheim profile is any indication, is welcome. However, the same cracks in the foundation are visible as on the weekday program, and a new time and spiffed up presentation can only go so far to compensate for a stagnant pool of financial support.