A big chunk of the public broadcasting world was in Seoul, Korea, attending INPUT, an annual conference where filmmakers, broadcasters, and distributors gather to watch and discuss the best public media programs of the year. But another bit of exchange took place that day, as some 150 attendees turned out to hear Jennifer Lawson of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and other panelists discuss the role of public broadcasting in focusing, educating, and connecting audiences around critical issues — in this case, equal access to opportunities for women and girls. The panel helped build interest and excitement for the official launch of Women and Girls Lead — a multiyear public media initiative featuring films and other media by the world’s best independent producers — a week later at the PBS Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.
In addition to Lawson, who serves as senior vice president of television and digital video content at CPB, the INPUT panel participants were Kim Dalton of Australian Public Broadcasting; Christine Hakim, an actress and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador; Jeong Yong-Sil, a Korean Broadcasting System talk-show host; and Aaron Sherinian, executive director of communications and public affairs for the United Nations Foundation.
Their conversation, which was moderated by Jim Sommers of ITVS, focused on the role of public broadcasting in driving content development and engagement to address social issues. Democratic societies depend on underrepresented voices to help solve problems, Lawson explained, and public broadcasting incorporates diversity into its mission.
The Women and Girls Lead initiative provides an essential framework to draw attention to timely, relevant stories that can help NGO leaders and others educate their constituents working on the front lines to improve lives, she added. “Policy decisions are being made in real time,” Sherinian said, “and partners on the ground demand to know what’s happening.” Technology tools make it possible to work together on big problems like women’s health, he added, and to convert “sound bites into sound development.” The INPUT conference, which drew 850 delegates from every corner of the world, also featured a Leadership Summit with 200 attendees and a live broadcast of a K-Pop concert.
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