Let Go & Lead
Patricia Harrison President & CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

On Creating Dialogue (3:07)

MARIL MACDONALD:
In building a community how do you bring diverse perspectives to the table or how do you make sure that minority opinion is heard?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
This is, uh, an issue I care deeply about and, in fact, so much that, uh, we came up with a strategic framework, and when you do that, that could be very artificial.  That’s like the message coming out of, uh, you know, the, the office and then disseminated.  But we used it almost as an pneumonic to remind us every day and it’s, we call it the three Ds, it’s digital, diversity, and dialogue.  And what that means to us in everything we do, everything we invest in, digital just represents a way of communicating using, uh, latest tools of technology to ensure we’re connecting with people formally known as the audience who have left the couch and taken everything with them and want to be your partner in creating what they want.  So that’s digital.

Diversity means that you must, if you’re public media, we belong to all the people.  We don’t just belong to the people who want to watch “Downton Abby”, must as I love it, and it’s fabulous and successful.  We want to be telling every American story.  We want when that Hispanic family turns on television or listens to radio they want to hear their voices too.  Now, that is, that’s not divisive.  That just means we want to include the great quilt that really is America.

And then dialogue.  Dialogue means we don’t push things out anymore.  We are bringing things in.  That’s why I don’t like the word outreach.  It, it just sounds like a mentality from a form of time.  We’re reaching out.  No, we’re engaging.  And, in fact, through one of our, uh, the initiative I talked about earlier, my source, people went into the community and they listened and they said it changed, the general manager said it changed the way we did business.  Now, the decisions are not made in our boardroom, they’re made in the community, and we’re a better station because of that.  So it’s something you have to do continually.

It, it’s not a brochure thing.  You hand out the brochure we believe in the three Ds.  We have to follow it with action so we invest.  We’ve just made a major investment, very proud of this, in NPR, to hire a journalist from diverse backgrounds and to look at content that connects to a lot of different communities.  We want every American to say this is my public media and so diversity means great ideas.  It means talent.  It, it doesn’t just come from one spigot.  If you don’t have it all turned on, you get nothing, so.