Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Grow the Audience: Inclusiveness

Inclusiveness is so important to the Grow the Audience project that it is the number one item in the report. The report prominently includes this passage:

“We challenge public radio to commit to a greater inclusiveness of people of color in every dimension – the governance of stations and national organizations, the hiring of management and programming staff, and the voices, views, stories, and music of day-to-day programming.”

It is a worthy goal and with that in mind, I offer the following:

Public radio’s national leadership – at CPB and the major networks -- is less diverse than ever despite nearly two decades of talking about the importance of diversity.

In fact, all of the key decision-making power in the Grow the Audience project, including the ultimate control of the tax dollars that will be spent on this initiative, is in the hands of White Baby Boomers.

It is incumbent upon on CPB and the project leaders at SRG to meet their own challenge if public radio is to break its pattern of talking about diversity but failing to affect real change.

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Anonymous John Proffitt said...

I've always felt the "inclusiveness" talk in public media has been bandied about as feel-good talking point rather than a real strategic objective. Indeed, I sat in a public media meeting just two weeks ago where the topic was immigration and the room was filled with white folk (including me).

Seems to me the only group that can make a serious dent in the diversity goal is CPB (also run by upper-middle-class older whites, of course). Perhaps a diversity fund should be established, funding stations or other media projects that are conceived, staffed and managed by and for one minority group or another?

Lord knows I have no idea how to develop programming or services that will specifically attract minority groups or serve their needs. I find it hard to believe any of the white boomers out there could, either.

But one thought also comes to mind: Perhaps minority communities need to prioritize public media funding from within their own ranks? Maybe media can never be tailored / useful / authentic if it's just paid for by someone else, especially some faceless white government agency in DC? There is some element of bootstrap politics here that's never discussed.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Keith Neisler said...

I agree with John Proffitt's comment and the blog post that it seems to be a "feel good" issue that is attached to the end of any major report or statement. (CPB or others). I suggest that inclusiveness stop being looked at as a program to fund or the stock statement made by system leaders and be seen as a shift of worldview that starts with the individual.

At the recent ERPM meeting, Dr. Ella Bell of the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth presented the idea that inclusiveness and diversity can only come about in society when individuals accept themselves, good and bad. Through self acceptance, warts and all, we begin to see others in the same way. Only then, she says, will diversity and inclusiveness become internalized and action can begin.

Of course, this African-American professor was talking to a gathering on primarily white, middle-aged,male station leaders. In this case, that was not a bad thing as Dr. Bell pointed out, we can see the gap between talking and living inclusiveness. She was right.

In other words, we really need to walk the walk!

10:00 AM  

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