It’s public television’s responsibility “to bring home a better understanding of our world,” says travel guru Rick Steves, who saw it as his “duty” to go to Iran, above. (Photo: courtesy Steves.)

Extolling public TV’s mission with an edge

 

I love standing on a stage — especially in the American heartland — and saying to 500 public television supporters, “Fear is for people who don’t get out much. When we travel, we get out. And, in the same way, when we watch public television, we get out.”

There’s a lot of fear being pushed in our society these days, and as I see it, the flip side of fear is understanding. And, like travel, public television promotes understanding. As much as I love to talk about Europe and the value of a journey that takes you outside your comfort zone, I also love to talk about the mission of public TV to challenge us with new ideas — especially if they get us out of our comfort zones. Continue Reading

The Mexican border reliably generates news while complicating coverage. Fronteras reporter Mónica Ortiz Uribe and NPR colleague John Burnett meet at the fence between Sunland Park, N.M., and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

On the beat in Juárez, you listen with your gut

As a reporter for the multistation “local journalism center” Fronteras: The Changing America Desk, I am surrounded by borders. I live in Texas, work in New Mexico and regularly report in Mexico. In a 15-minute drive, I can be in a different state or a different country. It’s a tricky but fascinating work environment that’s further complicated by the drug war next door. The toughest but most compelling stories that we cover come from Mexico. Continue Reading

Into the gig economy

The author is president of Western Reserve Public Media (WNEO/ WEAO), which serves Akron, Youngstown and Kent in northeast Ohio. Right after I finished reading Barbara Cochran’s paper for the Knight Commission, “Rethinking Public Media: More Local, More Inclusive, More Interactive,” the phone rang. The 1990s called, and they want their White Paper back. Public television has been local, inclusive and interactive since its inception. No doubt there is always room to be “more,” but getting there by building up staff and tinkering with governance structure is a repeat of the past and will lead to more reliance on taxpayer support from state and federal sources that cannot or will not provide it. Continue Reading

Congress sells billboard space on its walls to Pizza Hut

Let’s privatize Congress!

It's time to privatize Congress. The federal subsidy of this playground for the rich is bleeding American taxpayers and adding to the deficit. Not only does Congress cost more than $60 million annually in direct salaries, but its staff, perks and infrastructure add hundreds of millions more. Why should all of us pay for an institution benefiting only the few? Each congressional candidate should seek sponsorship from a corporation or association willing to pay his campaign costs and, if elected, his salary and office expenses. Continue Reading