A frank discussion about public media with industry expert Tom Davidson


Recently, Public Media Consultant Tom Davidson wrote an op-ed published in “Current,” the industry’s quarterly trade magazine, “decrying the lack of awareness in public media about Press Forward, the $500 million foundation effort to reinvigorate local news.”

Since then, National Public Radio (NPR) published its own white paper to support public media, and the Public Media Content Collective (formally the Public Radio Program Directors Association) added a panel to their fall conference that addresses the same issues.

However, Davidson still sees a major disconnect within public media on how the industry itself sees its place within the local news media ecosystem, which can impact accessing the ever-increasing national philanthropic support of local journalism.

Davidson believes: “It starts with understanding that serving a tiny portion of your market (and the wealthiest, whitest portion of your market) isn’t going to work” when it comes to proving the value you provide within a society being impacted by “news deserts” and “ghost papers.”

However, Davidson sees hope for a change within the public media world, as some broadcast outlets are acquiring local newspapers and others are expanding their news operations to serve a broader, more cumulative audience within their local markets.

In this episode of “E&P Reports,” we go one-on-one with well-known digital media consultant, Knight fellow, professor of journalism, Gannett’s past director of new product development and past senior director of public broadcasting, Tom Davidson, who “pulls no punches” during this frank discussion on the challenges that public media faces today and how it can continue to be a viable, self-sustaining part of local journalism.



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