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That is FCC chief Newt Minow’s true legacy

by Paula Kerger

Former Federal Communications Fee Chairman Newton Minow left a mark on the establishments he cherished and the communities he served. He’ll in fact be remembered for his warnings to a nascent broadcast business of the “huge wasteland” of tv. However his most essential message was his name to “put the folks’s airwaves to the service of the folks and the reason for freedom.”

As then-President Barack Obama mentioned of Newt, “public curiosity” was “the heartbeat of his life’s work” by harnessing the ability and potential of media as a transformative drive in our society. Media, Newt mentioned, “has an inescapable responsibility to make (its) voice ring with intelligence and with management.” And to make it possible for the media served the general public curiosity, Newt devoted his appreciable affect and mind to the creation of PBS.

Newt occupied important management roles in public media, first on the board of PBS’ predecessor, NET, after which on the PBS board of administrators throughout a interval of great progress. He continued his service to our system as a board member of WTTW-Ch. 11 in Chicago till the top of his life. Past his formal roles, over six many years, Newt was an adviser and good friend to so many leaders throughout our public media system. Once I turned CEO of PBS, Newt summoned me to Chicago for a gathering. And he definitely didn’t mince phrases when he instructed me, “Don’t mess this up” as a result of “folks throughout the nation are relying on you.”

Newt was all the time there for me all through my tenure at PBS and served as an important counselor, frequently reminding me that in our management capacities in public media, we’re stewards of one thing a lot bigger than ourselves. Following the trail Newt and different founders set for us, we have now constructed a whole media system dedicated to the ideas of public service, embracing tv, and now YouTube and streaming companies, to coach, have interaction and encourage our audiences.

The significance of our public media system has solely grown since Newt started his work. Amid an explosion of decisions, public shops are nonetheless among the many only a few organizations targeted on media that raise folks up and produce communities collectively. In lots of areas we serve, our stations are a few of the final domestically owned and operated media organizations. And we’re the one media group solely targeted on how we are able to use media to assist kids study.

At the moment, greater than 50% of youngsters don’t have entry to high quality preschool. However utilizing the ability of our platform, we put together children for fulfillment at school and in life. We’re embracing the promise of recent applied sciences to deepen our service, growing really interactive reveals, constructing video games to strengthen studying and creating content material for the classroom, so that each baby can see the world as filled with potentialities.

This spirit of optimism is maybe Newt’s most important contribution, and it continues to tell our work at PBS. I not too long ago watched some episodes from WTTW’s “Firsthand” initiative, which examines the challenges and alternatives going through individuals who had been previously incarcerated. Filmmakers adopted Tawana Pope, who hung out out and in of jail earlier than deciding to vary her trajectory. At the moment, Tawana is an ordained minister and social employee, targeted on how she will raise up others who’re combating habit. A vital a part of her journey, Tawana says, was utilizing her experiences to “change the lives of the women and men … (who) don’t have a voice, don’t know if they’ve a voice, don’t know if their story issues.”

Pope’s phrases converse to the enduring want for public media. By shining our gentle, we assist folks acknowledge that their tales matter. That their voices matter. That they matter. And that by coming collectively, there may be nothing we can not do.

In each neighborhood throughout our nation, we proceed to meet Newt’s imaginative and prescient, tackling a few of the greatest challenges of the day, from threats to our democracy to local weather change. And our public media system is Newt’s true legacy, media which can be solely in service of “the folks and the reason for freedom.”

Paula Kerger is CEO of PBS.