One of the most complex characters in LOTR is Eowyn. As the story unfolds, she is an orphan princess (poor) caring for her uncle the King who has lost his mind. But when he regains his strength, she needs to find a new role. She finds this as warrior and puts away her Princess attire and dons armor. She slays the immortal Witch King - he thinks he is immortal because he can never be killed by a man. "No Living Man" But of course the warrior he faces is a woman. By the film's end, she finds her true love, Boromir's brother and becomes the Queen.
So what's the link with KETC and Public Media?
When most of think of Public TV or Radio - we think of Big Bird or Nature or All things Considered. We think "nice". We think "soft".
The surprise is that KETC has put on a warrior role and is out fighting hard to slay the monster that is the Mortgage and now the larger Financial Crisis that is affecting the very survival of its city. If they are successful will they remain poor and dependent? I doubt that. They will have earned their place in the hearts of their community.
Who would have thought that they could or should do such a thing? When we get to The Art of War part of the Boyd Conference, we will see how this approach fits into the ancient wisdom of winning victory by engaging with the ordinary and winning by using the extraordinary.
It is also innately using the wisdom of John Robb and Rory Francis - suggesting that all are drawing on an inner truth rather than merely punting.
KETC is a pathfinder station that is transforming itself from broadcaster to convener. It is moving to becime one of the critically important tools in our path back to self reliance and resilience - a "Platform" where the citizen and the community no longer simply consume content but also create it and some thing more - they are given a "Trusted Space" in which to extend their conversation into action.
See how similar this view of what KETC is doing is to John Robb's idea of what a Platform looks like.
They are creating "Trusted Space" and balancing all the types of people in St Louis.
For in a time when Trust in the formal institutions is reaching every day a new low - Public TV and radio are the most trusted parts of the nations. Trust is the rarest thing around today and is therefore surely the most valuable thing that an organization or a person can possess.
KETC is an egoless connector. It connects the resources to the resources and the resources to the people. It connects via its own Trust by using its name and its ability to use TV and the Web.
If you wish to find out more about the why and the how - please go here to this link. Here I offer the context and the story for the work as it was when we started.
Like the Bio Alliance, KETC has convened the most trustworthy resources in St Louis who can help those who can be helped to save their home. For the public, KETC has used their air and the web to shift people from being frozen by fear and shame to having hope. Hope based on being able to find safe help and hope based on sensible advice leading to pragmatic action.
Why can't commercial media do this? Conventional media tends to stay with sensation and its sites are filled with people who seek to prey upon the vulnerable. Each story will also have ads attached that promise you an easy way out! There is no trust and no hope there.
Why could the helping agencies not act alone? Who was going to call the meeting. What we now know is that the meeting caller can have no ego - no axe to grind. If the United Way had called the group - many would have felt that the United way might be winning.
Only an outsider with no axe to grind can be the ideal convener.
Until KETC convened the real help in St Louis - many of these organizations had never spoken to each other - let alone met to do work with each other. So what is also happening is that the social helping capacity of the city is being strengthened.
Is it working?
More than this. KETC is changing Public Television's role in society. The measurable success it has demonstrated below has lead to new work on the horizon. To test this role of convening in many more markets. There is a good chance that Public Media may become a vital platform for establishing local resilience in America. This amy also be the saviour of the Pub Media world too. For in these terrible times, there will be little money around for anything that is not vital.
Good deeds are not enough - Great deeds are required. Great deeds deserve the support of the community.
As a Canadian, I find it so much harder to do here as there is no good starting place like KETC. The CBC is too much a centralized bureaucracy to take up this role right now. It is very hard to start this kind of work without a public TV or radio station as they are constituted in America.
Watch this space for news of this work expanding shortly.
Does this approach work? Is this really making a difference?
Amy did not have the time at the Boyd Conference to share the metrics of what KETC has accomplished. So I will add some here. Like the Bio Alliance on PEI, KETC may be a Nurturer, but they are very business like and make measuring Impact and Outcomes a central tenet of what they do. No touchy feely here!
How do we measure media? In most cases on air we can get a sense of who is watching. On the web we know exactly who is watching. As we started the experiment to see if a Public TV station could help a community help itself we had to know more - we had to know if what we did - on air, on the web, in person and by measuring itself (Remember in Quantum the act of measurement affects the measured) had an impact.
Would what we did activate action?
Would what we did change perceptions?
Would what we did have a result in improving the health of our community?
Might acting as a social catalyst be the higher goal and role for public media?
Well dear readers, the research is in - yes to all of the above.
A huge thank you to Professor Dhavan Shah and his wonderful team at the University of Wisconsin (see follow on)
One of the points that we measured was the number of calls that the United Way got from people seeking help timed against our on air pieces. Here you can see a massive bump directly related to what we did.
There is more - we found that the act of measuring/surveying had also a huge impact
What do these numbers mean? Are they good, OK or mediocre?
I have shared with you just the highlights - we have a lot more information that tells us that not only were we able to shift beliefs, motivate reaching out and action but also increase support for the station.
It is going to be fascinating to see what happens as this work spreads more broadly in the public TV and Radio world.
It's one thing to bring good content and information to the public. It is another to be able to help activate the public to take back power and control into their lives.
Amy's Slides are here - Download PEI Presentation
I feel that we are on the edge of a breakthrough - the networked world is finding its place and its organization
Dhavan V. Shah is Louis A. and Mary E. Maier-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds appointments in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science. His research concerns the social psychology of media influence, especially communication effects on political judgment, public opinion, lifestyle politics, and civic participation. He has authored over 60 articles and chapters and is currently working on three book manuscripts extending these inquiries. This research has been supported by Carnegie, CIRCLE, CPB, Ford, PBS, Pew, Rockefeller Bros., and Russell Sage. For details, see the Research and CV sections
Here is how the folks at KETC feel about their work