Time To Join The PBS Revolution?

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An anonymous blogger(s) calling him/her/themselves Revolution PBS has the chattering classes in the public media world a-chattering.

I was asked for my thoughts on the revolution thus far, specifically: whether it “has a place in #pubmedia chats.” Here’s what I had to say:

What strikes me (possibly more than anything else about the blog thus far) is that they call themselves a “revolution” and they’re not really saying anything particularly new, or necessarily revolutionary.

What has people intrigued is the anonymity. We don’t know who they are, but they seem to have a reasonably sophisticated knowledge of the public broadcasting system. So, could it be an insider? someone recently laid off? etc. At the very least, the industry is small enough, and the intrigue is compelling enough to get people talking. Which, I would say, is already a good thing.

The main argument they’re making is that PBS should invest more in content and less in infrastructure. True. There’s efficiency to be had in reducing the number of pass-through stations that do little more than re-broadcast national program feeds.

They say “Could Sesame Street realize there will come a day when they will no longer need PBS to deliver their content?” (April 16). Of course. Viewers/listeners/online users increasingly identify more with the programs (“the content”) they love than with the content providers or the networks who get it to them.

They champion such efforts as the pre-release of American Experience’s “Earth Days” documentary on Facebook, NPR’s iPad app, and the Cookie Monster/Google viral video.

All of these are great examples of public media effectively leveraging non-broadcast platforms to get its content out to the world.

They say that their “revolution” is “not a call for all member stations to fold tomorrow, but [to shift] as many resources as possible to engaging communities and producing stellar content.” (April 16) I think you’d be hard pressed to find many people (at least among the younger generation) working in public media who would argue with that goal.

So, is there a place for them in future public media chats? As far as I’m concerned, absolutely. Public media chat was founded as a place for people to gather and discuss ideas, big and little, for and about the future of public media.

Revolution PBS seems to have some ideas. Let’s talk about them.