Lay a Strong Foundation: Lessons from WYSO’s Localore Project, Reinvention Stories

By AIR Media Strategist Jessica Clark

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While Dayton, Ohio is home to award-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, over the past year they’ve traversed some unfamiliar territory. For one of the 10 public media transformation projects that comprise AIR’s national Localore production, the pair worked with Dayton-based WYSO to develop a first-of-its-kind interactive documentary about how locals are reimagining themselves and their community: Reinvention Stories.

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Bognar

 

Developed in collaboration with interactive storytelling team Zeega, the site has rolled out over the course of the spring, revealing stories of eight Dayton residents in three parts: who they were before the bottom fell out of the city’s economy, what happened next, and how they are reinventing themselves.

Untitled3Each act offers interactive features, inviting audience members to explore further and contribute their own reflections on the city’s prospects. In addition, WYSO is producing a series of paired stories—audio and video on the same subjects—profiling other residents who have taken a leap to change their lives.

WYSO General Manager, Neenah Ellis, is a Peabody-winning reporter who has worked in public radio for more than three decades. In the following interview, she describes what it was like to collaborate on this cutting-edge multimedia production, and how the station engaged community members in documenting their own transformations.

Q: The final act of the interactive documentary launched a few weeks ago. What kind of response are you anticipating?

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Ellis

Ellis: The response overall has been great. The multimedia portion has been a huge experiment for all of us—we had no way of knowing what would happen because we’d never done it before. Parts I and II have been extremely well received, and we’ve gotten a lot of press. We think it’ll stay the same for part III, which means that we’ll be able to sustain high-volume interest for 6 months.

Act III also has a new interactive capability: a beautiful map of the Dayton area, with all of the neighborhoods and the people who have been interviewed represented by a dot. Users can also upload photos and stories, and become part of the documentary.

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This interactive piece is what makes the project unique, and what will give it a long life. It helps us imagine the project in the future, find new people to interview, anticipate trends—for WYSO it has a million uses, so we’re really excited about that. It’s been hard…but I think it’s well worth it.

Q: How do you anticipate extending the project?

Ellis: Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert got funding from the MacArthur Foundation, so we’re planning a second year now. We’ll pull together another team as we did with the first one, and analyze what worked and what didn’t so that when we roll it out again it will be more streamlined.

The stories from year two will probably launch in January 2014, and WYSO is raising money for a third year. Also right now, we’re still airing the paired radio/video stories—Wednesdays during Morning Edition at 6:30 and 8:30.

We’re working right now on pieces for early May, and trying to decide on how many to do overall. Then, will re-run them, so we’ll get a full year’s worth of programming

Q: Do you feel as though this documentary is bringing new kinds of listeners to the station?

Ellis: Not only did it get my staff physically out into neighborhoods, but once they get there, their consciousness is different. This summer we’ll pick new neighborhoods, so it will extend us out even further. Anecdotally, we’ve gotten a lot of good responses from listeners, but we are still trying to match new members up with the neighborhoods.

As the stories air on the radio, we also see a lot of Facebook and email traffic, so we know that people are sending it out to their friends. So, there’s that great social media expansion of awareness as well.

Debbie Bradley from Reinvention on Vimeo.

One woman named Debbie Bradley, a former General Motors worker, started a discussion [online] among the GM workers about whether many of them have been able to reinvent themselves. She’s a real success story…became a nurse, and fulfilled her dream. We told her story and it kindled a conversation.

Q: What have you learned about the relationship between film production and radio production?

Ellis: The short films are different from the radio pieces, in some cases quite dramatically. The radio stories tend to go deep very fast, and the video stories tend to go wider. You get a different feeling about a person’s life with family photos, for example, while the radio pieces are deeper and more contemplative.

We’re hoping to bring all of the radio and film producers together and ask them what they’ve learned and share it.

Q: What lessons would you share with other stations?

Ellis: I do believe strongly that this project has really increased our capacity as a pretty small station to innovate…but it’s not a given.

You really have to have a vision, to have done the foundational work. We invested in a webmaster, have a high-functioning web platform, began community media training a couple of years before we began Reinvention Stories, had good media contacts—so the project allowed us to build on all that previous work.

We also leveraged Reinvention Stories to create a new team of volunteer media makers in combination with our paid staff, building on the Community Voices program. Now, in its third year, it has a cumulative effect, because people keep coming back. It encompasses a lot of projects, including Reinvention Stories—if we didn’t have that umbrella, we’d have a harder time perpetuating it.

But, as a small station, there are trade-offs. In a bigger station, there’s a bigger cushion, more people. There weren’t as many news stories this year because reporters were out walking out streets. So we had to decide that it was worth it.

I’m just so proud and happy that CPB and all of the other funders stepped up and recognized the potential for independent producers working in public stations. I hope the other nine Localore stations had as good an experience as we did, and that other stations open their doors to local makers, and realize that they’re a great resource.

Curious to learn how the other Localore stations built new storytelling strategies to engage communities? Read previous posts in this NCME series and visit Localore.net to experience them for yourselves.

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Great Content, Flexible Delivery:
Lessons from a startup news site

Guest post from Don Henry, Director of Digital Media at WHYY.

Because I’m old, I’ve seen the disintegration of a variety of media models. Oh, how I long for the days of the illuminated manuscript!

Well, my professional memory might not go back quite that far, but I certainly can remember being the guy with the freshest buzzwords at the table, grumbling after every meeting about how some craggy old newspaper editor “just didn’t get it.”

These days, I’ve stopped even tracking the buzzwords, and I don’t want to know where the twenty-somethings put me on the cragginess spectrum.

That’s probably why, when we sat down to build NewsWorks three years ago, I started where I’d started so many times in the past: At the home page.

NewsWorks, a sub-brand of Philadelphia’s public radio station WHYY, had set out to provide an alternative source of news and engagement. By partnering with a number of reputable independent local journalism operations, we created a mix of content generated by WHYY radio reporters, NewsWorks bloggers, our partners and freelancers.

Early in 2010, the NewsWorks development team locked itself in a conference room and started drawing a tidy site map, with the home page as the hub.

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image credit: Tony Auth

Three years later, we’re wondering how much longer we will even have a home page. As we explained in a recent webinar, so much of our traffic enters through the side door, it’s now clear we spent way too much time worrying about our home page. (See the prezi for specifics.)

We now realize that as a new service, with no established traffic against our front door, we have tremendous flexibility with how we engineer both our site and its content. For today’s Internet, having a largely deserted home page is an opportunity, not a curse.

As we look toward NewsWorks 2.0, which will launch in waves between now and fall, we have refocused our energy in these ways:

  1. We concentrate on the user experience at the content-item level. We want each piece of content to present its riches clearly, with as little fuss as possible. We are re-engineering our user experience to put our content as far forward as we possibly can. We haven’t given up on the idea of making the site “sticky” (that’s a buzzword that’s endured), but we’ve realized that, if we’re not careful, we risk annoying a whole lot of our users just to get a tiny percentage of them to hang around. If they bounce, they bounce. If they’ve had a great reading (viewing/listening) experience while they’re here, we figure they are more likely to come back.
  2. Mobile consumption is our first concern, both for design and content generation.
  3. Our content is our brand. Yes, we want people to eventually have a warm feeling when they see the little orange bubble that is NewsWorks’ avatar.  But we know reaching that goal means stressing content and the personalities who produce that content. For instance, we don’t worry that building the social footprint of our urban life correspondent, Lizz Fiedler, will detract from our overall brand. Our early data indicate this strategy is paying off.
  4. Our only constant is change. Gone are the days you build a huge black-box product, launch it, start measuring and let it run for a year or so to see if you’ve got a hit. It’s certainly not unique to us, but we’ve drunk the agile web development Koolaid. We work in manageable “sprints” (usually no more than 8 to 12 weeks), and we have changed our middle name to “iterate.” We now conceive, launch and (sometimes) scrub projects in less time than it once took to draft a content plan. (Of course, some products are a success and we keep them around!)
  5. If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. Although we have some technical and staffing constraints, we have committed ourselves to not doing anything for which goals and key performance indicators can’t be defined. Analytics are the key here. This is especially important when you’re spending marketing money promoting content. (See the full prezi for more detail.)

As a final note, it’s important to remember that, as journalists and online producers, we cannot make people do anything. They are going to do what they are going to do. They are going to engage with content they care about, probably based on what their friends are doing on social media. The first few years of NewsWorks has convinced us that we need to focus our efforts on creating solid, interesting journalism and then become expert at saying: “Hey, how about this? No? Okay, how about this?”

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The Kitchen Sisters Reveal the Power of Collaborative Production Via Localore’s The Making Of…

By AIR Media Strategist Jessica Clark

Kitchen Sisters hats“Some people are hat people,” Olivia Rose Griffin told Lauren Benichou, who reported on her 100-year-old hat shop for Localore project The Making Of…

It’s because they’ve been doing it a long time. And then there are some people who are like ‘oh, I don’t look good in any hat.’ They just have to practice. They’ve just got to throw hats on and get comfortable.”

For many public stations, collaborative production might feel similarly awkward. But award-winning producing duo Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva—known jointly as The Kitchen Sisters—have honed the practice to a fine craft. Over the past year, they’ve headed up The Making Of… at Bay area station KQED, mastering a series of increasingly ambitious collaborations—with the public, storytelling innovators, and local organizations. Their work offers models for stations seeking to update their style.

Cooperation at the Core

KitchenSisters nikki & davia“So much of the impulse to collaborate with an array of people and organizations comes from the fact that Nikki and I work collaboratively,” says Nelson.

Together, they’ve produced more than 300 stories for public broadcast, including a string of award-winning NPR series: Hidden Kitchens, Lost & Found Sound, The Sonic Memorial Project and The Hidden World of Girls. Nelson attributes their approach to previous work in team-focused environments— Silva’s in museums with a strong community focus and her own in filmmaking, where she says working with crews is “like being with an orchestra and bringing everyone to the highest level of their craft.”

Collaboration is also intrinsic to the design of AIR’s distributed Localore production, a 10-station public media innovation initiative with primary funding from CPB. In a unique three-way arrangement, each project is jointly produced by the lead producer, a public station, and AIR. Localore producers lead multidisciplinary teams that include designers, developers, reporters and station staff. In addition, AIR has encouraged these teams to work in tandem with audience members to document their lives and communities, in the process expanding the station’s reach into untapped corners.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 11.11.44 AMFor the Kitchen Sisters, that meant reframing audience members as fellow makers, and inviting them to share their stories online and via a call-in line. Over the last several months, they have gathered more than 200 such stories. From this pool, they produce broadcasts, videos, and multimedia explorations on topics including the making of bespoke prosthetics, a jar of jam, data sculptures, a senior dog rescue service and others—some quite abstract and profound.

 

Listen:

Tapping Fellow Innovators

To help explore Bay area creativity in all of its variegated glory, they’ve also worked with others who are forging new storytelling forms.

SoundCloud event

In January, the Kitchen Sisters co-produced a packed event at the offices of social audio platform SoundCloud to launch The Making Of…Studio with Zeega and KQED. An interactive storytelling team led by Jesse Shapins, Kara Oehler and James Burns, Zeega has co-produced several of the Localore projects. They’re building an open platform that allows to users help “remake the internet” by creating immersive productions drawn from audio, video and images in the cloud. The Making Of… site invites participants to make their own “strange, beautiful experience,” and share it with others in the community.

In another experiment, the Kitchen Sisters partnered with reporter Charla Bear, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and digital storytelling platform Cowbird to tell the story of Ignacio Gonzales. Better known as “Notch,” he builds hot rods in his shop, Top Notch Kustoms, plus tiki bars on the side. He explains that his craft is “all about the stance and the style.”

Joining Forces With Cultural Hubs

Along the way, the Kitchen Sisters have shared The Making Of… stories at a series of events—including a feature slot in a sold-out Pop-Up Magazine live event last April, and a stint as hosts at the Third Coast Competition awards.

But all of this has just been been a warmup for what looks to be their biggest collaboration yet: a two-day celebration to mark the closing of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a three-year expansion process. On May 30-31, The Making Of…@ SFMOMA will attract an estimated 12,000 people a day to a pop-up-style event featuring local makers of all stripes.

Magical Cinema Snowglobe from JD Beltran on Vimeo.

Artists who have been featured in the series will be on hand to demo their inventions, such as Evan Holm, whose Submerged Turntable simultaneously celebrates human culture and mourns its eventual loss, or JD Beltran and Scott Minneman, whose Cinema Snowglobe marries digital video technology with nostalgic tourist tchotchkes. SFMOMA architects and designers will also reveal the story of The Making Of…a Museum.

A smorgasbord of locally produced delicacies will be available—from underground Korean restaurant FuseBOX, karaoke ice cream truck TreatBot, cheesemakers Cowgirl Creamery, heirloom jam-maker The Still-Room, and others—and creators will share culinary origin stories. In addition, KQED and the Kitchen Sisters will invite locals to submit videos about what they are making for the chance to demo their productions at the event in a series of hour-long sessions.

Nelson says that co-producing this event with SFMOMA “is like coming full circle,” after many years of making “cinematic audio” that aims to tell stories visually. “We were always gathering 3D materials,” she says—a topic the pair wrote about for Transom. Now, they are able to bring The Making Of… to life in a way that celebrates, as so many of their stories do, “people who are possessed, with a passion, with a mission—people who are building something new.”

Want to learn about how other Localore producers are connecting with publics and community partners in fresh and surprising ways? Catch up on the monthly series featured on the NCME blog, and join us for a webinar on April 10th at 2:00 EST for Go Outside: New Visions For Community Engagement from AIR’s Localore. 

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Presenting in Native American Communities

March 26, 2013 by Jess Main under Audience Engagement, Content, Creative Practices, Television, Webinar

Shirley K. Sneve, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota) in South Dakota, recently presented some tips for stations that want to work with Native American communities around the FRONTLINE film Kind Hearted Woman. The film documents the struggles of Robin Charboneau to raise her two children, further her education, and heal herself from the wounds of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

We found these guidelines very useful and wanted to share them with a wider audience.

Guest Post from Shirley K. Sneve – Executive Director, Vision Maker Media (formerly NAPT, Native American Public Telecommunications)

1.  Native American or American Indian? What’s the correct answer? There isn’t one, except that Alaskans don’t like to be called American Indians. If possible, use the tribe or band of the individual or group. We use the term Native American in our office.

2.  Engage a local Native American organization to issue the invitation with the station to come to the screening.  Natives are more likely to attend if they know there will be other Natives at the event.

3.  Use the FBI to get the word out (Facebook Indians). “Friend” local Native organizations to help spread the word. Vision Maker Media will be happy to assist you with this.

4.  These are very difficult and personal issues for many Natives. One in three American Indian women has been raped or has experienced an attempted rape, according to the Justice Department. Their rate of sexual assault is more than twice the national average. These are the reported cases.

Photo credit: Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux Tribe/Sicangu Lakota). Photo: Vision Maker Media

Photo credit: Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux Tribe/Sicangu Lakota). Photo: Vision Maker Media

5.  Consider inviting an elder to open the screening with a prayer.  Make an offering of tobacco when you make this request. If possible, ask that the room be blessed by burning sage, cedar and/or sweet grass.

6. Look for partners with likeminded goals and stakeholders. For example, organizations like the National Congress of American Indians have been working hard to get the Violence Against Women Act passed in the House and in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act case at the Supreme Court now.

7.  As shown in the film, there are many obstacles for victims of abuse to find help and healing. Family relationships, legal issues of jurisdiction between federal, state and Tribal courts, issues of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as simply not knowing where to turn create more questions than answers.

8.  For people who are in abusive situations, attending the screening will be a brave act. Having counselors and resource information on hand will make a big difference.

9.  Native communities battle substance abuse, but they also have very high rates of abstinence, so stereotypes may not be true.

10. Vision Maker Media films that explore these issues:

     The Silencea FRONTLINE film

     The Thick Dark Fogdistributed by NETA.

FRONTLINE will broadcast Kind Hearted Woman over two nights on April 1 & 2. If you are interested in obtaining a screener copy for pre- or post-broadcast engagement opportunities please contact ITVS through this request form.

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WDET Evolves its Engagement

March 11, 2013 by radioanngal under Audience Engagement, Content, Impact, Public Media System, Public Radio

by Ann Alquist, Director of Radio Engagement

My professional heart was born in local news. I know most hungry producers and reporters want to get on the national shows, but I have always loved the process that’s necessary for local news. Drilling into our cities’ and towns’ issues can be the most gratifying work and with a sense of almost immediate impact. Most importantly, it feeds our sense of mission to get our communities – warts and all – reflected on the air.

I see this mindset on steroids at WDET in Detroit. They’ve partnered with local organizations to catch trucks illegally driving through Mexicantown in the southwest part of the city. They’ve convened off-mic conversations that have diversified the station’s news sourcing and audience. Now the station has taken a page from public television’s community engagement playbook: take advantage of an existing national conversation on a controversial topic and leverage a well-known, well-respected national radio program to spark a discussion locally.

This American Life, hosted by the iconic Ira Glass, touches millions of Americans with riveting stories that speak to the universal human condition. Sadly, experiencing gun violence appears to be increasingly a universal human condition – which TAL decided to tackle in two parts with a profile of the effect of gun violence at Harper High School on Chicago’s south side. WDET broke format, airing the episodes in its weekday schedule as well as its regularly scheduled weekend time. The station also interviewed the TAL producer on its flagship public affairs program The Craig Fahle Show to facilitate a local conversation about gun violence and youth in Detroit.

On its face, what WDET did isn’t all that revolutionary. But the station broke some taboos: interrupted regular programming by airing a national show multiple times outside of its time slot. That doesn’t come intuitively to public radio – because we are so fiercely local in our news production! Every hour that goes to a national show could be an hour to cover our communities, to convene critical conversations. But it’s a reminder every once in a while to take advantage of compelling national content that speaks to our communities as well. We’ll always bring our fierce localism to public radio and as WDET has shown us, it’s possible to connect the two to create a meaningful dialogue about tough topics.

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After Newtown: Engaging communities on difficult issues

February 18, 2013 by Charles Meyer under Audience Engagement, Content, Television

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 9.49.54 AMThe recent tragedy in Newtown set off a national conversation about related issues, including school safety, gun laws, and mental health. For public media stations, the conversation and concerns in your local community are immediate and important.

PBS has stepped forward with a week of specials that take an in-depth and thoughtful look at the issues raised by the Newtown tragedy. PBS is set to broadcast After Newtown programming starting February 18, with a full week of specials from PBS NewsHour, FRONTLINE, Washington Week, NOVA, Need to Know, and more.

To help you guide the conversation and to maximize what your station can bring to your community around this issue, NCME has curated relevant information and resources, including tips for engaging your community, ideas for potential partners, and examples of prior public media work on similar topics.

You can access that information here: http://www.mediaengage.org/afternewtown/index.cfm

We are pleased to offer these resources and hope you will use them, coupled with the PBS After Newtown programming, to help your community cope with these issues.

Public media stations are ideally situated to lead during difficult times. Considered credible and non-partisan, your station can convene the community, help guide the conversation, provide a forum, and collaborate with others.

Seizing such an opportunity fills a community need, fulfills our public service mission, and demonstrates our value. It’s an opportunity to listen actively and appreciatively to what people in our communities have to say – and then help the community address its needs and realize its aspirations. It’s an opportunity to cultivate and sustain relationships, to partner and collaborate with others toward shared goals.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please let us know if we can help in any other way. And, of course, share with us what you’re doing to support your community so we can share your good work with others.

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Digital Magazines: A New Home for Multimedia Storytelling

Staff members from KQED and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) – which have created an e-book and e-magazine, respectively – will be talking more on this topic at an upcoming iMA webinar on Wednesday, February 13.  To register for the iMA webinar, click here.

by Amir A. Zaman, Communications Director, NCME

Magazine Banner Promo.jpgJust a few months ago, Oregon Public Broadcasting launched OPB Magazine, a free digital magazine available through Apple Newsstand, to showcase the organization’s wide variety of multimedia content and storytelling.

According to Lynne Pollard, Vice President of New Media at Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), creating digital content is intrinsic to OPB’s work.

“We create a lot of digital and multimedia content,” Pollard says. “We also make that content available through a variety of channels. Creating a digital magazine was a natural progression for us because we already had the content.”

Steve Bass, OPB’s president & CEO, began seriously considering the development of a digital magazine after a visit to the University of Oregon (UO). In the spring of 2011, students at the UO School of Journalism and Communication created its first interactive tablet magazine, OR Magazine. Upon seeing how the UO presented multimedia storytelling in this digital format, Bass decided to explore the iPad as a delivery channel for OPB’s content.

Jason Bernert, a graduate from the University of Oregon who played a key role in the production of OR Magazine, now works as a digital producer for OPB. Bernert’s primary responsibility is to develop and produce monthly issues of OPB Magazine, which is created completely in-house.

“We didn’t necessarily want to re-create our print member guide in digital format,” Pollard says. “We were interested in being able to give people a true multimedia experience. On a monthly basis, we create a lot of content through our TV properties (Oregon Field Guide, Oregon Art Beat, and our history series, Oregon Experience), our radio reporting and programs, our Earthfix local journalism center, as well as online content that we create for the web on arts and culture topics. We know no one can or will see or hear everything we do, so we believe there’s a great opportunity to re-version content for new uses.”

In order to provide users with a fully immersive experience, OPB selects and features stories that really stand out and are worth re-visiting, such as its cross-platform feature on Mount Hood.

Users can download the OPB Magazine through the iTunes store. If they subscribe to the magazine, it’s downloaded automatically to their iPad every month.

“We’ve only been doing the magazine for a few months. We launched it last December in celebration of the station’s 90th anniversary. We thought it was fitting to continue our service to the community that started with radio at the beginning of the 20th century, with the latest digital innovation at the beginning of the 21st century.” Pollard says. “We promoted the magazine through radio, as well as our newsletter, Facebook and other social media channels.”Section.jpg

To date, the digital magazine has more than 900 regular subscribers, and Pollard expects that number to increase after OPB begins running TV spots promoting the publication.

“It’s definitely trending up,” she says.

And what has OPB discovered about OPB Magazine?

“We are able to look at what stories people are opening. Highly visual stories are very popular.”

You can check out OPB Magazine here or search for OPB Magazine in the iTunes app store.

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For stations, a chance to engage college students around Earth Day

January 17, 2013 by Amir Zaman under Content, Television, Webinar

by Amir Zaman, NCME’s Communications Director

Growing up in a village in a third world country, in a particularly arid and inhospitable landscape, I often wondered why my forefathers had chosen that place of all places to settle down. The answer, of course, was and is water.  The village was located on a major river fed by melting snow from the Himalayan mountain range.

Most of us in the U.S. don’t pay much attention to having access to fresh water, although with consecutive droughts in the south and Midwest, there is increasing awareness of the cost of getting water.  We rarely give a second thought to taking a shower, washing dishes, doing laundry, or providing water to pets and livestock.

WP logoFor millions of people across the globe, getting access to clean, fresh water is not easy.  I am reminded of that as we prepare to host an upcoming webinar featuring Water Pressures – A Documentary, a film that will air on public television around Earth Day. For stations, the documentary provides an opportunity to use the screening to tap into a conversation with college and university students.

Mark Silberg, one of the leading students in Engineers for a Sustainable World from Northwestern University notes, “Water Pressures is not just about creating local impact. It’s about enabling a generation of college students to take notice of a global environmental challenge, and work together to make aggregate change. Water Pressures is about building a culture of sustainability not just for our own comfort and stability, but for the health and well-being of the planet and humanity alike.”

The documentary features students from Northwestern University working with villagers from India and learning about the importance fresh water.  The village is located in Rajasthan, an arid desert with little fresh water.  The documentary covers the eye-opening discoveries the students from Chicago – located near Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water – make as they visit with and listen to the villagers talk about the challenges of getting fresh water.

Having lived in the U.S. for decades, I have to admit that – until Water Pressures reminded me – I had forgotten how much I used to revere the feel, taste, and vitality of cool, fresh water.

You can learn more about water issues and the documentary by attending our upcoming webinar.

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Public Media Keeping Communities Informed and Healthy

January 11, 2013 by radioanngal under Content, Education, Online Engagement, Public Media System, Social Media

No doubt your station is keeping an eye on the spread of influenza. The Centers for Disease Control reported that 7.3% of deaths in the last week were caused by pneumonia and flu. Part of public media’s service is to provide timely and relevant information to our communities. Thanks to public media’s emphasis on localism over the air and on the ground, many stations are responding to the flu epidemic as appropriate.

Here are a few resources for stations responding to the flu:

  • Flu Tips from Sesame Street has fun ways to encourage children to wash their hands regularly, also in Spanish.
  • An embeddable flu PSA with Elmo and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains how to stay healthy during flu season.
  • The PBS NewsHour’s FluView map has up to date information about how badly the flu is affecting your state.
  • Check out WBUR’s CommonHealth blog and NPR’s The Two Way blog for a national overview of the flu epidemic.
  • A guide on covering pandemic flu from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

The Centers for Disease Control has several resources you can share:

  • The Centers for Disease Control has a wealth of information on the 2012-13 flu season.
  • Flu information for parents with young children, a particularly vulnerable population.
  • Keep in touch with your state’s department of health and what they are advising. The CDC has a map of state health departments.

In addition to your state or local public health department, you may also want to reach out to local clinics or pharmacies to identify how your station can be a resource during an epidemic. As the trusted local information source, public media can play an important role keeping our communities healthy.

 

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American Education Week

November 16, 2011 by kksparks under Audience Engagement, Content, Education, Public Media System

This is American Education Week, a perfect time to shine the spotlight on some of the great work being done nationwide on the American Graduate initiative! Here’s what some public media stations are doing to address the dropout crisis.

Convening Town Halls

Last week The Nine Network kicked off its American Graduate work in St. Louis with a major town hall meeting. The gathering was a huge success with approximately 100 local teachers, an in-depth discussion among panelists and text message polling to gather insights straight from teachers in the audience. Among other press coverage, the PBS NewsHour covered the event and aired an informative segment on it.

This week, a number of stations are hosting or broadcasting their own town halls and summits, including: Detroit Public TVWMHT in Eastern New York, Mississippi Public BroadcastingWGTE in Ohio, and the partners KUVO and Colorado Public Television in Denver. Here is a preview of Colorado’s American Graduate special:

Working with Students

It’s rewarding to see stations making students’ voices a priority in this initiative. Some stations, such as KACV in Amarillo, TX, are working with students to create PSAs. In Chicago, WTTW11 is partnering with a local nonprofit, Free Spirit Media, to make PSAs with students. Here is an example from that project:

How can you find out more?

American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis. You can stay up-to-date on what’s happening by visiting AmericanGraduate.org and following the initiative on Facebook and Twitter, along with the hashtag #AmGrad.

Public radio and public television stations can also find information, tools and resources on how to get involved with American Graduate at mediaengage.org/americangraduate