Public Media Puts Civic Mission in Center Stage
What standards do public broadcasters hold themselves to, in the era of foreclosure news beats, the Arab spring, and #DowntonAbbey? Or, to ask the question another way, what is public broadcasting's mission?
I was part of a team of people who grappled with revising the editorial integrity standards for public broadcasting last year, and I'm proud of what finally emerged from a long discussion. With the vision Jessica Clark and I articulated in Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics, I argued for putting public broadcasting's unique claim to nurture public culture in its diversity at the center.
Here's the opening sentence of the standards: "Our purposes are to support a strong civil society, increase cultural access and knowledge, extend public education, and strengthen community life through electronic media and related community activities."
I was also happy to see diversity--a recognition of public broadcasting's need to reach beyond its safe core whose demographic profile is that of its membership--be signalled as a key value in the document.
These are standards that can work well in a participatory, collaborative and increasingly user-centric environment.
Editorial Integrity for Public Media is a collaborative project of the Affinity Group Coalition, which is made up of representatives from seven membership organizations of public television stations, and the Station Resource Group, an alliance of leading public radio stations focused on strategy, policy, and operational innovation. The National Educational Telecommunications Association, NETA, is providing organizational support.
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