Message from the General Manager
Last month I wrote about the peculiarities of Leap Summer. Now that we are half-way through it, I’m reminded not so much of what’s unusual, but of what sets public media apart.
This month, our special stack of programs about past Olympics and Olympians is just one example. It demonstrates how public TV producers focus not just on the winners and losers, but the context of those events—the diverse factors that led to the outcomes and, ultimately, the impact over time. To do so takes research, scholarship, tenacity, and creativity. Last month’s programming was distinctive too, but in one case somewhat uncomfortable. We closed the month with our coverage of the Republican and Democratic Conventions. It was classic public television: informed, comprehensive, and unbiased. It is another reason why public TV is one of the most trusted institutions in America. But those high standards may have been reinforced in reaction to a different program earlier in the month.
In the midst of a live broadcast, we slipped during A Capitol Fourth. If you watched the program, you saw some amazing performances. During the fireworks at the end, however, you may have scratched your head a bit. While it was a clear night in western New England, it was a damp one in Washington DC with a very low cloud ceiling. The fireworks exploded in the clouds and were mostly invisible from the ground. Fortunately, the producers had footage of previous fireworks to include in the broadcast. Being prepared for that contingency was the right thing; failing to disclaim the use of that footage was not. The reaction by the public TV community to this inadvertent lapse has been swift and strong. It has reinvigorated our collective commitment to the editorial integrity that has earned your trust. For the Convention coverage, perhaps we needed this relatively harmless but important reminder.
We learn from experience, both good and bad. Thanks to you for both your support and your trust. I promise we will continue to do our best to earn it.
Russell J. Peotter