Now might not seem like the best time for the public broadcasting system to be pondering philosophical questions of identity and purpose, since its unwanted promotion to high-profile partisan punching bag in Congress. The official ponderers of the system’s Editorial Integrity for Public Media initiative beg to disagree. Now more than ever, they say, public broadcasting must make its case by defining its purpose and identity to the larger world — because if it doesn’t, its critics will. “In this political environment there’s a lot being thrown around about integrity, bias, and ‘just who are these public broadcasting guys, anyway?’” said Tom Thomas of the Station Resource Group, co-director of the editorial initiative. “We should be able to say, here’s how we do our work, here’s the way in which we make decisions, here’s what money we take or not, here’s how we balance funding and content.”
“In the work I’ve done, facilitating Dynamic Inquiries and Round Robins, one of the key things that comes up is, we don’t have an articulated vision for public broadcasting — and, frankly, that has gotten louder,” said Ted Krichels, director of Penn State Public Broadcasting and chair of the Editorial Integrity project’s 20-member steering committee.