WNET had another successful year at the 2017 America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) Public Media Summit in Washington, DC. The conference, which ran February 27 and 28, celebrated the Public Broadcasting Act, which has its 50th Anniversary in November. The Summit brings together representatives from public media stations across the country to explore issues that are vital to the future and mission of public service media.
Pat Butler, President and CEO of APTS, began the conference with his Annual Address that spoke to both new threats to federal funding and new opportunities in a changed regulatory environment. He remarked that, “severe restrictions in budget reductions will not be tolerated by many Members of Congress.” Butler then inspired attendees by reminding them that public media tells America’s stories and gives Americans the knowledge and tools they need to be citizens.
This year’s sessions included a discussion about the importance of public media, led by CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison; a panel discussion with political consultants on the current climate in Washington and its potential effect on the budget; and historian Candice Millard and filmmaker Stanley Nelson spoke about how public media has given them a platform to tell their, and America’s stories.
Conference attendees were also treated to a special address by Judy Woodruff, anchor of the PBS NewsHour, who discussed the political climate in the new Washington and wisely instructed us to “add light, rather than heat” in our work.
The Summit concluded with Capitol Hill Day on Wednesday, March 1, when station representatives took to Capitol Hill to meet with local legislators to promote the relevance and vitality of public media, and emphasize the importance of sustained federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. WNET’s team took meetings with 28 Members of Congress from New York, New Jersey, and Long Island and Neal Shapiro met with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand from New York with great success.
Team members included Friends of Thirteen, Inc. board members Betsy Ashton, Erin Hartnett, Melody Marcus, Orlando Morales, and volunteer Ethan Paul. WNET Staff were well represented by Kala DeStefano, Deb Falk, Bob Feinberg, Pat Northrop, Diane Masciale, Dorothy Pacella, Sasha Schechter, John Servidio, Hillary Sieber, Kellie Specter, and Marisa Wong. In addition, Friends of Thirteen held their first essay contest with Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication to recruit student representatives to attend the Summit and Capitol Hill Day. Two students were selected for this year’s advocacy efforts: Alexi Cohan, a junior, and Jillian Leavey, a freshman with junior standing. The Friends of Thirteen also welcomed two NJTV interns for the first time: Giuseppe Zarfino, a senior at William Paterson University, and Asa Dugger, a junior at Kean University.