Upsides: Reconceived public stations can ‘be more PBS’ and be more local

The stations are here so they can understand and illuminate a community’s aspirations and concerns, engage people in the life of their community, and help people reengage and reconnect with one another. — Richard C. Harwood and Aaron B. Leavy1

The remark above reflects a way of thinking strategically about the institution of public broadcasting at this point in our history. Today, public media boards and executives face such strategic questions as:

What can we do to be a more significant and engaged institution in our community? What should be our focus, and what does that mean for redeploying resources from current activities? How can we help nonprofit and government entities be more effective when their missions are in greater demand?

Opening doors to region’s inner policy circles

The Great Lakes, formed by melting glaciers 10,000 years ago, were ready last week for their close-up. Detroit Public Television, seizing an opportunity that comes about as often as a planetary alignment, televised 25 hours of speeches, conferences, workshops and meetings about the future of the massive lakes that nearly surround Michigan. Great Lakes Now, a three-day event organized by a regional group and two government agencies, was documented by DPTV’s live streaming and on-demand video of speakers, nightly half-hour wrap-up broadcasts and satellite feeds that extended the speakers’ reach south to Houston, east to New York and west to Phoenix. DPTV clearly demonstrated how a midsized public television operation could give people unprecedented access to those who make policy on local and regional issues. “Look at the role we can play in our community and communities throughout the country,” said Rich Homberg, DPTV president.