The Future of Public Radio

Rob Paterson writes about The New Realities Forum, a meeting of over 300 delegates from all across the Public Radio system in the US, which occurred in Open Space over the weekend in Washington, DC. UK consultant Johnnie Moore opened the space.

Rob described the gathering’s purpose before it started:

Our intention – to find agreement on how we will go into the future together…

…The stakes are high. For many who will attend, the issue is much more than the survival and health of public radio but the survival of the last large media space in America that can be trusted. Some see the stakes as higher yet. They see the opportunity that public radio can expand its role from trusted news source to a space where the citizens of the nation can come together safely and solve the pressing problems that confront their communities….

And afterwards reported:

We have just completed 2 days of Open Space meetings with leaders of Public Radio in the US. I have been blown away, as have the delegates, with the power of this process to enable a rich and deep conversation.

What really made it for me though was how the conference concluded. Here I heard the public radio system declare as a body that it would start the hard work of setting aside petty differences and find a way to come together as a true system with a structure that would heal and help.

Imagine the real power of a real network of hundreds of stations and great producers such as NPR, MPR, APM and PRI all dedicated to help each other inform their communities, the nation and ultimately the world. Imagine this power dedicated to not only keeping the truth alive but also in creating the space where people can come together and find the trust, influence and safety to solve the intractable problems of our time such as why don’t our schools work, why are we not more healthy, why is there such a divide between cultures and communities…

Johnnie and Rob posted an excellent description of the Open Space process on the retreat forum site, where you can also find photos and session reports.