Who cares about public media?

It turns out you and I are not the only people who want to see public media stay strong.

Terry Gross interviewing David Fanning at the “Role of Media in Our Democracy” conversation.

Not by a long shot. Thanks to my friend and colleague, Cali Brooks, Executive Director of the Adirondack Community Trust, I was invited to attend an intensive one day/one evening conference sponsored by Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media in Philadelphia. Cali and I drove down on Wednesday morning and drove back Thursday night–a whirlwind excursion well worth the effort.

The title of the gathering was The Role of Public Media in Our Democracy. The presenters, panelists and attendees were all heavy-hitters in the field, ranging from Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air and David Fanning, executive producer of Frontline, to represesntatives from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NPR, and the MacArthur Foundation.

I could go on and on about all the wonky stuff regarding technology and funding but what I really want to share with you are some amazing links.

First, check out the documentary archive at Frontline. This is a national treasure.


Second, if you care about even-handed and thorough journalism, you should be a subscriber to the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning organization ProPublica.



Third–and this is the one that really had me hopping up and down–check out the work being done at the Center for Public Integrity. Bill Buzenberg, a “founding father” of modern public radio, former News VP at NPR, and award-winning journalist, is now CEO of the Center. His presentation at the gathering focused on multi-platform, collaborative work being done by the center–investigative, data-based work that is being picked up throughout the media and news industries. For example, explore the Poisoned Places series, beginning with this comprehensive interactive map. Or, find out how your state government stacks up in terms of accountability (can you guess which state got the highest marks?), or explore the Dollars and Dentists investigation of corporate dentistry (and dentistry deserts), which includes a collaborative documentary with Frontline.

The takeaway for me is this: there is very important investigative journalism being done…and it costs money. Across a variety of constituencies–including public media professionals, foundations that fund public media, citizens who care deeply about broad public access to rigorous journalism–there is concern about how to find the resources to maintain and expand a fourth estate that serves the mission and principles of our democracy.

Your thoughts on how to pay for the journalism our society needs?

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1 Comment on “Who cares about public media?”

  1. Hank says:

    I’m not answering the question you asked but thank you for bringing these sources to our attention. I just looked at the Poisoned Places interactive map; that’s extremely informative and gives one a really good sense of how affected our environment is by point-source pollution (even up in the north country).

    Personally, I’m not surprised that New Jersey gets high marks on the accountability/corruption scores though that is definitely NOT the prevailing impression one has of the state (and I’m glad to see that Nebraska is up there too). As for New york, well, you know…

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