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From Broadcast to Broadband: Redesigning public media for the 21st Century

From Broadcast to Broadband: Redesigning public media for the 21st Century

Ellen Goodman of Rutgers University School of Law & Jake Shapiro, Executive Director, Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Tuesday, November 3, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor

RSVP required for those attending in person (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.

In the U.S. the fate of journalism is a hot topic these days, with disruptions in the newspaper business, relentless innovation across platforms, increasing intervention by foundations and philanthropists, and new policymaking at the F.C.C. underway.

Just in the past several weeks alone we’ve seen the release of The Knight Commission report on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, the Columbia University report on “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” and last week’s appointment of Steve Waldman to the F.C.C. “"to lead an agency-wide initiative to assess the state of media in these challenging economic times and make recommendations designed to ensure a vibrant media landscape.”

Within the broader story of media transformation generally, there’s an important role played by public broadcasting as it also transitions to a more expansive identity as “public media.”

A robust system of public media is of critical importance for sustaining and enriching democratic practices and social advancement.  By connecting individuals to each other and to important public discourses, public media can advance democratic capabilities, empower publics to communicate and organize, and support the production and distribution of valued media content. 

Public media can be understood as operating across four dimensions: (1)  Public media supplement the commercial media market with content and services designed intentionally to meet social, not market, needs.  (2) Public media leverage investments in educational, cultural and other civil society functions by linking to and supporting those functions.  (3) Public media operate in a decentralized manner, emphasizing local connections, to provide access and voice to underserved populations.  (4) Public media also centralize media production and distribution efforts through networks and collaboration.

What exactly the goals of public media should be in the new digital communications environment, how these goals should be achieved, and how each of the four dimensions of public media should be stretched are open and pressing questions.  For reasons external and internal to public media entities, the next several years will be crucial in determining whether the United States has a system of public media that is able to support the kinds of widespread, high value, noncommercial, and productive communications essential for democratic functions.  As policymakers focus more intensively on broadband policy, they will need the perspectives of public media stakeholders to fashion systems that support content production and citizen engagement as well as inclusive technological infrastructure.

About Ellen

Ellen Goodman is a Professor at Rutgers University School of Law at Camden, specializing in information law and policy.   Professor Goodman’s scholarship probes the appropriate role of government policy, markets, and social norms in supporting a robust information environment.  She has focused recently on the future of public media and recently authored a book chapter entitled Public Service Media 2.0.  This and recent law review articles are available at   Professor Goodman has spoken before a wide range of audiences around the world, has consulted with the U.S. government on communications policy, and has served as an advisor to President Obama’s presidential campaign and transition team.  She is a Research Fellow at American University’s Center for Social Media, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications, and has visited at Penn’s Wharton School of Business and Law School.  

Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2003, Professor Goodman was a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, where she practiced in the information technology area.  A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Professor Goodman was a law clerk for Judge Norma Shapiro on the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  She lives near Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

About Jake

Jake Shapiro is CEO of The Public Radio Exchange ( an online marketplace connecting stations, producers and the public. Since its launch in 2003 PRX has been a leading innovator in public broadcasting, pioneering new digital distribution models and social media applications. In 2008 PRX received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Prior to PRX, Jake was Associate Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, where he now serves on the Fellows Advisory Board. Jake is a frequent speaker at media and technology events and is an advisor and consultant to a variety of public media organizations, media funders, and Internet startups. He is also an independent musician and has recorded and performed on guitar and cello with numerous groups, most frequently with Boston-based rock band Two Ton Shoe.


Past Event
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

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Public Radio Exchange

The Public Radio Exchange is an online marketplace for distribution, review, and licensing of public radio programming.