Three Things for December 16, 2021
This week: Things to keep you busy over the holiday break. Plus the Season of Giving and Generosity.
THING ONE: Things to Spend Some Time With Over the Holidays
Last week’s announcement of the CPB Digital Transformation Program participants is a terrific mix of radio, television, and joint licensees of varying sizes, formats, and licensee types. If you recall, the program will allow 75 public media organizations and five National Multicultural Alliance organizations to develop strategies and tactics to transform their organization’s digital operations and culture.
This virtual program, developed and provided by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, provides a customized curriculum based on its Table Stakes program designed to help public media general managers adapt their organizational culture to deploy a digital-first, audience-centric approach effectively. In addition to Poynter, the program will bring expertise from the Maynard Institute’s work over the past three years integrating DEI perspectives and tools with its Fault Lines program into the Table Stakes program.
For Thing One this week, I’m going to offer some things to spend some time with over the next few weeks as you hopefully have some spare hours away from the daily tasks to read, listen, and learn.
The first is from the 2018 ONA conference featuring Doug Smith, co-founder and architect of the Table Stakes program. In this session which you can listen to below, Smith describes the seven core table stakes required to be in today’s local news game — and the pathways a local news enterprise must take to transform and succeed.
Whether your organization is part of the upcoming CPB Digital Transformation Program or not, it’s an informative session along with this Columbia Journalism Review post from Smith, also from 2018.
Another audio “thing” that’s worth spending about 30 minutes with is a year-end edition of the Better News podcast revisiting some journalism success stories of 2021. The Better News podcast is a partnership between It’s All Journalism and the American Press Institute.
This episode features Kamaria Roberts, the new deputy director of local news transformation at the American Press Institute. She joins host Michael O’Connell as they listen to clips from past interviews and discuss how they demonstrate the successful application of strategies developed by newsrooms in the Table Stakes Local News Transformation program and featured on the Better News website.
One of the success stories featured in the podcast showcases the work of WFAE in Charlotte on how the station changed its approach to better engage the region’s Latinx population.
Ju-Don Marshall, the station’s chief content officer and executive vice president, was interviewed on the podcast1 with Hilda Gurdian, publisher of La Noticia, a Spanish-language newspaper serving North Carolina. They discussed the partnership that included a joint Report for America reporter. Here’s a link to that entire interview published in July if you’re interested.
Since 2018, Morning Consult has produced a fantastic web experience that examines what news stories broke through to audiences over the past year. The 2021 edition was released on Monday, and it’s fascinating to look back at noteworthy stories from the past year and how news reaches Americans based on party lines, age, and race.
Reporter Eli Yokley provided the analysis that showcased the divisions across the political spectrum, age, and race that exists in America in 2021.
The interactive “Seen, Read, Heard” site allows you to scroll through events that occurred over the past year. What you find is how wide the partisan gaps are when it comes to particular news stories.
For example, Republicans were half as likely to say they heard a lot about a recording that revealed then-President Donald Trump had pressured Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, to overturn Biden’s victory.
Meanwhile, by more than 20 percentage points, Democrats were more likely than GOP voters to have heard a lot about Georgia Republicans enacting a restrictive election law in response to Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims, as well as Congress’ certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Overall, when it comes to mainstream political news stories, Republicans were generally less likely than Democrats to report high news consumption, especially when those stories had negative implications for the party or its leader.
There are also vast generational gaps in news consumption as well.
Only 47 percent of the youngest voters, for example, heard a lot about the enactment of the American Rescue Plan, compared with 82 percent of the oldest voters. And despite the younger cohort’s generally elevated concern about climate, the oldest voters were far more likely to have heard a lot about the summer’s Western heat wave (67 percent to 36 percent) and Hurricane Ida’s landfall (64 percent to 37 percent) — two stories that earned major television news attention.
However, there were only small consumptions gaps between Black and white voters who told Morning Consult that they get their news from mainstream sources such as newspapers, radio, or cable and network news.
However, there were marked differences in news consumption on stories with specific implications for the two groups.
Black voters were more likely than white voters (52 percent to 28 percent) to report having heard a lot about the guilty verdicts against Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. At 68 percent, Black voters were most likely to have heard about the Chauvin verdict, though 62 percent of white voters also said the same.
This fascinating study is worthy of your time and helps better understand what stories connect with different audiences. One hopeful bit from the study was that the obsession inside the Beltway of the news that President Biden’s dog, Major, bit someone at the White House was among the least resonating story with voters in 2021.
While the Morning Consult study looked back at 2021, there are, of course, dozens of predictions and forecasts for 2022. Last week I mentioned the NiemanLab “Predictions for Journalism 2022” and several new and interesting ideas have been posted in the last few days.
One more worth checking out is from the podcast services company Pacific Content offering some thoughtful predictions for Podcasting in 2022. The post covers items ranging from podcast subscriptions, walled garden apps, and audience development to where legacy media and independents land in the podcast space to increased efforts by major podcast producers to reach Black and Latinx listeners. There are some very thoughtful ideas offered in the post from various viewpoints.
THING TWO: The Season of Giving and Generosity
The numbers are in from GivingTuesday as 35 million adults in the U.S. supported the nonprofit sector in various ways. This year’s total donors is a 6% increase over 2020.
That is a truly remarkable amount, and I’m sure that public media was the recipient of its share of donations on November 30th. From a scan of stations around the public radio ecosystem, I thought the mix of live and recorded spots, email, and social media messaging, along with many stations doing full-blown on-air pledge campaigns, offered a powerful statement of the role of public radio in communities across the country during this important day of philanthropy.
Not to be outdone, commercial radio has also been using the holiday season to help raise money for a number of local and national charities. This story from this past weekend about a commercial station in Kentucky is also worth reading and sharing.
This spirit of generosity reinforces the belief in the vital role that the nonprofit sector plays in strengthening communities across the country. Indeed, during the past 22 months, that spirit has played out in several ways, with one of the more inspiring developments occurring recently with the launch of The Generosity Commission.
The Generosity Commission is a project of the Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation designed to address the critical need to better understand generosity in America now and how it can be strengthened. The members of the Commission to guide this work come from a cross-section of areas that touch philanthropy, from foundations to charities to the corporate sector.
The Commission will seek to address some serious challenges facing philanthropy over the past several decades.
Twenty million fewer American households gave to charity from 2000-2016, a decline of 13%.2
High-income donors give more frequently and in larger amounts. In 2012, the top 1% of donors gave 43.5% of all individual donations. In 1960, the top 1% of donors gave 18.9% of all donations.3
Young people are not participating in traditionally measured giving and volunteering at the same level and rates as previous generations. From a high in 2003, volunteering by the Millennial generation in 2015 declined by 4%. Giving levels remain near lows seen in 2009 – post-Great Recession.5
While these are worrying statistics, the Commission notes the enormous outpouring of philanthropy in 2020 to address issues ranging from the pandemic to social and racial justice to climate change.
The Commission is seeking to provide leadership and a renewed spirit of giving, volunteering, and civic engagement that:
Takes new forms and embraces new ideas, from crowdfunding to impact investing, direct giving, and social entrepreneurship.
Recognizes the many ways people engage in their communities, from informal and formal volunteering to movement building, activism, and advocacy.
Engages new generations and mobilizes people from all backgrounds to support the myriad of causes that capture our hearts, minds, and spirit.
Brings people together, building commonality and connection, strengthening communities at a time of division.
This movement around generosity is inspiring, and I look forward to following the work of the Commission as it seeks to Reimagine and Reignite America’s Spirit of Generosity.
THING THREE: One More Thing About Generosity
Something else that has been inspiring to me has been the support from readers of this newsletter.
I started writing Three Things back in April at the same time I established my consulting firm, the Public Impact Group. The purpose of both is to help public media leaders develop and implement innovative strategies for local stations to play a more significant role and have a greater impact in their communities.
One surprise from writing these newsletter posts has been some of you asking if there was a paid subscription option for the newsletter to support this effort.
I truly appreciate the generosity of those asking the question.
And it got me thinking that if you want to support this newsletter, perhaps the best thing you can do is help one of two causes that I believe are important and relate to the work we do in public media.
But first, I hope you’ll indulge me in a brief story about why I’m so passionate about this industry.
I have had the privilege of working in public radio since graduating from college. I was given the keys to a small station as its first employee and, through the generosity of donors and the trust of the licensee, built it to be the NPR station in the market. I’ve been lucky enough to also work at larger organizations and somehow found a way to get involved on the national level with the NPR and SRG boards.
When I accepted the position at this small station in Indiana, I wouldn’t have imagined that public radio would allow me to visit the BBC twice in London, attend meetings and conferences all over the country, including places like Girdwood (Alaska), Jackson Hole, Montreal, Snow Bird (Utah), and Phoenix (albeit in July and August6), and attend an NPR Weekend in Aspen.
There were years that I had so many meetings in Washington, DC that I could have taken up residency there. And I’ve had the opportunity to meet presidential candidates, British Prime Ministers, and countless celebrities and dignitaries inside and outside public media. I even was lucky enough to attend the very memorable White House Correspondents Dinner that featured Stephen Colbert’s roast of George W. Bush.
These have been the unexpected benefits that have served as wonderful add-ons for being in an industry that plays such an essential role in the lives of millions of people each day.
Like any career, there are ups and downs, but it seldom feels like work when you believe in the mission.
With that said, here are a couple of ideas to show your generosity in support of this newsletter:
One option is the Public Media Colleagues Helping Colleagues (CHC) Fund.
In 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, this fund was established for people working in public media to directly support their colleagues who suffered losses in natural disasters.
The CHC fund has collected and distributed over $80,000 to assist staff members affected by floods, fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters nationwide.
Greater Public administers the fund on behalf of the public media system at no charge, and all gifts are tax-deductible. Contributions in any amount will be welcome to help our colleagues in need. You can make your pledge here.
Another option is The Maynard Institute7.
I believe there is nothing more important in public media than to address long standing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion that exist across our industry.
For more than 40 years, the Maynard Institute has addressed the lack of diversity in the news industry through training, collaborations, and convenings. The organization seeks to create better representation in newsrooms through its Maynard 200 Fellowship Program8.
The Maynard Institute’s training efforts are also transformational, and, as noted earlier, it’s important that the organization is part of the CPB Digital Transformation Program.
I’m a huge fan of the Maynard Institute and hope that you’ll consider making a tax-deductible donation to support its important work. Here’s the link to give.
I’ll be taking some time off over the holidays, so it’s unlikely you’ll hear from me until 2022. Thanks so much for reading, and best wishes to you, your family, and your colleagues.
Marshall also wrote a report for the Better News Initiative about the partnership.
Changes to the Giving Landscape, IUPUI 2019
Duquette, Nicolas, J: The Evolving Distribution of Giving in the United States, September 11th, 2020
Grimm, Robert T., Jr., and Dietz, Nathan. 2018 “Where Are America’s Volunteers? A Look at America’s Widespread Decline in Volunteering in Cities and States.” Research Brief: Do Good Institute, University of Maryland.
Dietz, Nathan, and Grimm, Robert T., Jr. 2019. “Shifting Milestones, Fewer Donors and Volunteers: 21st Century Life for Young Adults and the Impact on Charitable Behaviors,” Research Brief: Do Good Institute, University of Maryland.
It’s a dry heat. Not really.
The Maynard Institute’s slogan is “Fighting for newsrooms that look like America since 1977.”
The Fellowship Program gives media professionals of color the tools to become skilled storytellers, empowered executives, and inspired entrepreneurs.