Sometime when a crisis occurs so does the solution. I think this convergence is happening right now for Public Radio and TV.
Just as States and Universities pull back their support, just as traditional supporters such as the Auto and Finance sector pull back, just as the public pulls back, just as stations cut staff and programming and just as advertising itself starts to fail, I see agreement emerge across the system on a menu of things to do that could transform the system back into being vital and hence supported by the American Public.
Last week I went to THE public media conference The Integrated Media Association's Conference in Atlanta. Here is an annotated list of ideas that had the support of the system.
There are three parts to this "Plan"
- Become Vital to America - important is not good enough in these time
- Fully Use the Network Effect to lower costs systemically and to attract Resources beyond Money
- Speak only with one voice - speak as a "Whole" system
- Become the News Power House that is possible if all the news resources are combined in ONE Network that is offered on ALL platforms. Fill the growing vacuum of news and context as the old system dies.
The emergent offering today would be NPR News, Plus Planet Money, Plus Frontline, Plus Bill Moyers plus an expanded News Hour Plus a local addition Plus a local citizen component
- Become the agent for mobilizing the community to cope with the financial crisis. Do what President Obama urges, bring back local control and local action and reduce helplessness.
The emergent offering is the new CPB project to extend KETC's work to 30 markets where the crisis is worst and both TV AND Radio are involved
- Become the main agency for helping American learn how best to use Social Media. There is no scaled trusted force that can help all parts of society - the young, small businesses, NGO's large institutions - to use Social Media well. Pub Media can become that agency
This expands the entire idea of Educational TV and Radio
This opens up a whole new source of revenue
- Create a Systems Helping Agency (A SWAT Team) taken from the best people in the system to help stations - who are stretched to the limit - use the network effect to do better on the web -and to use the network effect to reduce costs and increase resources. Stations cannot do this without help. The new has to be midwifed. Some call this a "coalition of the willing" - they are right - draw on the best and the most willing people.
Assist regions in reducing costs by consolidating their support functions in a network - there is no valid reason in a network for each station to replicate the back office functions - this has been done in Alaska. Create network utilities that serve the stations who then focus on content and convening
Call on the Geeks of America to come to the aid of the system - A Kind of Peace Corps of Geeks for a more democratic America - there is a well spring of energy that we can tap into of talent that don't want to send money but will offer themselves to help. Just as we can have citizen journalism, we can have citizen resources - bring the members into the network
We are ready:
Resistance will be minor. Support is widespread. There is intellectual convergence and readiness and most importantly there is leadership from NPR. The pain is also high. In the last 2 weeks, the financial strains have got a lot worse at Universities and states are announcing a major pull back from support and that it has become clear that the auto and finance sectors are not in a position to help anymore.
Set the Context: Be clear about what the stakes are:
Put our highest needs first as our agenda.
Ask them to help us not to put on Lawrence Welk or even Nature or Masterpiece Theatre but to be the agency of understanding and community energy in these terrible time. To be the place where people can find out that is really going on and how they can help each other get through this. To be the agency of realistic Hope. To be the place where they can act to make a difference
Speak with one Voice: