This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 13, 2010 - The Beacon has quite literally been at the center of media transformation this week. KETC-Channel 9 announced its new name -- the nineNetwork of Public Media -- and dedicated the room that houses Beacon headquarters to new kinds of public engagement.
The celebration swirled around our trapezoidal desk in the sleek space we share with various nineNetwork activities. Celebrating with us on Tuesday was Patricia Harrison, head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, parent of both PBS and NPR.
Harrison lauded the nineNetwork for its innovative spirit and for its commitment to working in partnership with the Beacon and others. These are examples for other public media organizations to follow, she said. In an interview with Beacon reporter Dale Singer, Harrison elaborated on her thoughts about the future of public media.
Around the room as she spoke were concrete examples of what nineNetwork's new mission includes. Staff demonstrated the use of Facebook and Twitter to reach out through social media. NineNetwork and Beacon representatives explained the Public Insight Network, our joint effort to build a broad network of sources for ideas and information.
Producers described the multi-faceted Homeland project, a look at immigrants and immigration issues. The project, which includes involvement of Beacon reporters, has prompted community conversations and will produce four hours of documentary television.
Across from the Beacon's desk, participants in nineNetwork's video classes honed their storytelling skills.
At the Beacon, we discussed our mission - focusing on news that matters to St. Louisans -- and our evolving ideas about how to deliver on that mission. Rather than simply publishing a website, we see our job as engaging people through multiple means around news and issues.
The compatibility of the Beacon's mission with that of nineNetwork is the reason we are partners. It's also one reason St. Louis is seen as a leader in media innovation, pioneering a path that leads media organizations away from seeing each other only as competitors and toward figuring out how we can collaborate to provide better public service overall.