Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Delicious Today: critiquing public broadcasting

#1: Public Radio Me
"Public radio apps (which are some of the best out there), for example, tend to be bundled into menu-filled portfolios of public radio stations and shows ... And if I'm a fan of WHYY (for example) in Philadelphia, don't give me an app that simply replays the station. Give me a choice of streams, including ones not duplicated on-air. Give me an app that brings me more of ME, not simply more of you. ... The reason we approach this so narrowly is that we have a natural tendency to bundle our assets the way they're bundled in our industry (our 'functional fixedness'), rather than unbundle them according to the tastes of each individual fan. We must configure our apps around that fan's interests rather than our over-the-air stream."
I follow Mark Ramsey's blog (hear2.com) and find this post about public radio insightful. It's easy to accept the audience-centric approach to digital media, but much harder to implement it. As media organizations, we have a deeply embedded habit of seeing media from producers' point of view and automatically carry that habit from the traditional to digital media world. That's why it's so important to seek out the viewpoints of outsiders like Ramsey, and better yet, our audience.

#2: Membership has its meaning
"The membership bar has moved up. It’s not enough to let people give you money and promote you. Now you have to invite them to have a real and meaningful role in what you do, even a sense – if not a stake – of ownership and, consequently, control. ... News organizations, please think about membership. But don’t think if it as merely a revenue opportunity. That is doomed."
A journalism professor at the City University of New York, Jeff Jarvis is another media critic I respect and follow. Public broadcasting has been using the membership business model for many years. Donating to and becoming a member of a public broadcasting station have many benefits, some extrinsic and some intrinsic. Extrinsic benefits tend to be monetary (pledge gifts) or utilitarian (convenience of downloading). Intrinsic benefits tend to be psychological (good feeling of doing something right, sense of belonging). In terms of long-term effectiveness, intrinsic values are far more powerful than extrinsic values to motivate action. A community formed around ideas rather than business transactions is stronger and lasts longer. In the digital age when communities have become critical to the success of any product including quality journalism, public broadcasters need to focus more on offering extrinsic values, as Jarvis suggested, in their membership drives.

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