PBS’s Sepulveda: Stations can do more to engage Latinos, broader communities

PBS stations need to share more information among themselves as they work to increase their community impact, PBS’s new senior v.p. of station services Juan Sepulveda said at the two-day “Understanding Impact” symposium, convened by the Public Media Futures Forum and the Center for Investigative Reporting April 17 and 18. The forum, which took place at American University, explored how public media organizations can measure and analyze the impact of their work. Sepulveda, who started at PBS in January, said he was still trying to get a sense of how actively stations are working on issues of impact and how much information they’re sharing. So far, he’s concluded that a small number of stations are “doing it right,” he said, adding that “if we’re honest, a big chunk of the system is not.”

Sepulveda saw firsthand the success of digital outreach and community-organizing tactics when he worked to mobilize Texans and Latinos for President Obama’s campaigns. Public TV can apply those strategies to get stations “more directly involved in what’s happening with each other,” he said.

Women and Girls Lead goes global, extending outreach to five countries

Women and Girls Lead, a public media–based outreach and empowerment program, has evolved into a broader international effort, seeking to drive positive societal change in Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Jordan and Peru. The public-private initiative grew out of the national documentary-based campaign created in 2011 by the Independent Television Service with funding from CPB. It is designed to build engagement around issues such as women’s leadership, violence prevention and economic empowerment. Films presented through the initiative include the five-part Women, War & Peace; The Interrupters, about a Chicago woman working to defuse gang violence in her community; and Strong!, profiling a champion woman weightlifter. More than 50 films have been distributed through the initiative so far, according to ITVS, and they have attracted an audience of more than 42 million through broadcast and online distribution.

Panelists testify to inspiring global power of documentary films

This article has been updated and reposted with additional information. Women and Girls Lead Global, a public media–based international outreach program, is helping drive positive change in five countries, participants said last week during panel discussions in Washington, D.C.

The public-private initiative grew out of the national Women and Girls Lead, a 2011 documentary-based campaign created by the Independent Television Service and backed by CPB. Partnering with ITVS in the international effort, which launched last summer, are USAID (the United States Agency for International Development), the Ford Foundation and the humanitarian organization CARE. The March 13 event, “Media as Multiplier: Using Documentary Film to Boost Global Development,” provided a forum for the international development community to discuss the value of using media as a development tool, Kimberley Sevcik, ITVS director of international engagement, told Current. Speakers at the Meridian International Center included New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, whose book Half the Sky inspired a four-hour PBS film; Rajiv Shah, who leads USAID; David Ray, head of policy and advocacy for CARE; Judy Tam, e.v.p. of ITVS; and ITVS country engagement coordinators from Bangladesh, Peru, India and Kenya.

Odd Squad to be PBS Kids’ newest math learning series

It’s a question that parents and teachers struggle to answer at home and in the classroom: how do we make math fun for kids? The creative minds at PBS Kids have spent the last few years devising a solution to that problem. With Ready to Learn funding provided through the Department of Education in 2010, PBS staff set their sights on creating two math-focused children’s shows. Their answer for the 3- to 5-year-old crowd was PEG + CAT, an animated series that debuted last fall.  Produced by Fred Rogers Company, PEG + CAT teaches measurement, shapes and patterns, skills that help the characters solve their real-life problems.

Odd Squad, a live-action math series geared toward children ages 5 to 8, is the latest addition to PBS’s slate of math-based kids’ programming.