NPR invited a gang of the country's best thinkers about changing media to Washington last week to talk about the network's future. The result has been an outpouring of interesting blog posts, intriguing ideas and complex connections. I'll cite a few of the key links below; you can follow the emerging web of ideas by starting pretty much anywhere and clicking through the links they provide to one another.
A couple of thoughts along the way: you'll note that while National Public Radio is flying high these days (that $200 million philanthropic gift, growing respect and reputation, great public affairs and features journalism) things are not so bright for the hundreds of local public radio stations that subscribe. The many separate programs that local stations piece together to fill most of their broadcast day are available now in many other forms (podcasts, streaming audio, perhaps satellite) and in the future will almost surely by-pass the need for a local broadcast outlet. Local public radio news isn't remotely up to NPR quality (well, maybe in Miami) and the stations are understandably antsy.
Jeff Jarvis has some advice that's beginning to sound rather familiar: stop thinking like a radio station. On-air broadcasts are no place for the hyperlocal content everybody's seeking nowadays, but Jarvis argues (this may sound familiar) that the broadcasts can drive audiences to online communties that extend the radio franchise.
[The broadcast] has the power to develop local communities of news, information, and interest. It can use its promotional power to drive people there. It could, for example, get people in a market to record every damned school board and town council meeting and put them online, served by the station. It could create the meeting place where people share news and information, competing with or even in cooperation with local papers. It could be a home for talk about local issues and news.
Local television is thinking more about print; many are selling classified ads on their websites. Radio needs to stop thinking like radio. Newspapers are adding video and audio online.
It's all just media now.
There's a 10-minute video overview of NPR's deep thinkers thinking deeply here.
David Weinberger starts his extensive and engaging discussion with a post found here. (It includes many valuable introductory links to other participants). Jeff Jarvis' initial post about the experience is here. Scroll down to the Friday post to start reading Doc Searls' observations at his blog here.