"Throughout history, the Fourth Estate and political leaders have had a fraught relationship, but the founding fathers made a point to support media," said MIF Executive Director Vince Stehle in his opening remarks.
The Public Broadcasting Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967, had a far-reaching vision for how public media would serve Americans. "It is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of public radio and television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, educational, and cultural purposes," part of the act reads.
For its part, philanthropy has made an important mark on supporting this work. Ford and Carnegie provided seed funds for educational media, and numerous foundations since have supported both local stations and national coverage.
We focused on public media's roots in the first session, which featured a conversation with one of NPR’s founding architects, Bill Siemering, and one of today’s leading public radio reporters, Korva Coleman, on how public media has served us for the last 50 years and where it will take us in the future.
Coleman then invited former FCC commissioner Michael Copps and NPR's chief digital officer Thomas Hjelm to discuss the importance of supporting news and educational programs, and how the founding goals of public media have translated into efforts to serve all Americans.