Led by William Baker, Ph.D., Fordham’s Claudio Acquaviva Chair and director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Public Policy and Education at the Graduate School of Education, 22 experts gathered to consider the future of public media during a groundbreaking meeting held in New York City. The resulting follow-up report includes 13 published essays exploring a broad range of related topics, including Baker’s “The Underfunded Afterthought” and GSE Dean Virginia Roach’s “The Future of Public Media”.
In “The Underfunded Afterthought” essay, Baker addresses critical concerns related to the ongoing lack of a defined mission for public television and its duplicative programming. He informs that there has historically been very little emphasis on reducing overlap and
merging infrastructure to increase effectiveness and efficiency. This, he shares, needs to be a key component of public media’s overall central mission to produce quality educational and informative programming. Finally, Baker emphasizes that the best opportunity for creating long-term vitality of public media would be built upon a combination of responsible regulation and reliable funding, coupled with the vital First Amendment guarantee that government will continue to have no influence on programming content.
Dean Roach’s “The Future of Public Media” essay focuses on the value of public television ingrained in Generation X school leaders (those born between 1960 and 1980) vs. the different assumptions of younger Millennial colleagues (born between 1980 and 1999) and today’s Generation Z students (born since 2000). She notes that Millennials represent the first group of “digital natives” who grew up with desktop computers, moved to laptops and now widely use mobile devices. Further, Roach highlights the fact that on average, “Internet native” Generation Z students spend three hours a day online (excluding the time they spend online doing schoolwork). To support the ways in which children and youth acquire knowledge, Roach suggests educational leaders should expose Generation Z students to public media programming and technology that explicitly challenges them to think and weigh evidence. She concludes that teachers must recognize and facilitate the important role public media can play in educating children both about and within the digital world.
“Participation in this project acknowledges our need to examine the future of public media and how it must transform in an environment of rapid technological and attitudinal change. When the Public Broadcasting Act was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson 50 years ago, there were only three television networks. Today, we receive information from numerous outlets on a multitude of platforms. We must examine these new opportunities and harness their power to learn, educate and inform,” explained Dean Roach.