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22 February 2007


John Proffitt

Stephen -- Regarding your section about "The DDC system assumes a high level of web competence at the edges of the network," I totally agree with the premise, but not the solution (more hand-holding for stations via the DDC framework).

My own recommendation would be to tell the stations, in no uncertain terms, that they'd better figure out this web thing on their own, and now. Hand-holding (via systems like PI) actually prevents stations from confronting the transformational learning curve they must traverse right here, right now.

When your mission is to serve the public with meaningful media and to act as a media interaction platform in your community, then your Core Competence must be managing those platforms and systems and interactions. Today, our Core Competence is broadcasting, and at edge stations like mine, it's mostly rebroadcasitng content from other sources (NPR/APM/PRI/PBS/APT/PRX), with only enough local content thrown in to give the illusion of local service (okay, maybe that's a bit harsh, but at my stations, our local service is weakening every year as our NPR/PBS fees go up).

The small/medium stations must begin to transition their internal staffs from being broadcast-oriented to being media- and distribution/interaction-oriented, using the Internet as the transactional platform. That means hiring CTOs, IT people, new media people -- pick your preferred terms, but the baseline idea is that the people you have in-house today in these edge stations must either be totally retrained (technically and culturally) or replaced.

I'd say add more staff to do the new media stuff, but that's not financially feasible, and people that can do 2-way media can easily handle 1-way media.

And I say all this as someone working in one of those edge stations. You can hold my hand for a little while, but at some point I'm going to have to sink or swim on my own.

Sadly, some stations will sink and drown. But that's a failure of the local Boards and managers at the stations, not the system as a whole. Stations that are waiting for the "solution" from the networks and big producing stations -- stations that are waiting to be "saved" -- are deluding themselves and probably should disappear anyway.

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  • Gerd Leonhard
    'media futurist' and entrepreneur
  • Dennis L. Haarsager
    I'm a university administrator responsible for public broadcasting and educational technology.