Public Media Workforce Collaborative
Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Public media has long been challenged to provide its staff with professional development and career growth opportunities. At a time when the industry is working harder than ever to diversify the composition of its management and staff, address internal DEI issues, and adjust to the demographic shifts and media consumption habits among its users, this work couldn’t be more important.
In the Spring of 2019, four similarly structured public media providers in Buffalo (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), Cleveland (Ideastream Public Media), Detroit (Detroit Public Television), and Pittsburgh (WQED) came together to address these common challenges and opportunities. These stations shared a desire to advance their hiring, training, and professional development efforts and the upward mobility of their staff and to modify their organizational cultures. Yet, what they all lacked was the organizational capacity and financial resources to do so in any substantial way. They formed the Public Media Workforce Collaborative (PMWC) to share resources and identify and implement programs together that no one station could achieve on its own.
There are, of course, many public media affinity groups that serve key roles in knowledge transfer and centralized programming that can benefit the greatest number of their station members. However, the underlying premise of PMWC was that similarly sized and constituted stations (e.g. type of license), likely in close geographic proximity to one another, could develop and implement initiatives together that were more customized to their unique needs and to their available level of resources. The idea was, and remains, that stations working together in collaboratives across the country would see value in organizing themselves similarly to address common challenges in more nuanced and targeted ways.
In 2021, the Collaborative received a two-year, $450,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to advance some of its efforts and document successes and lessons learned that could then be shared across the public media system. PMWC then developed a Playbook based on its experience in order to guide stations interested in forming their own collaboratives, as well as to provide a series of “How-Tos” with respect to the development and implementation of a Fellowship, DEI-focused management training program, employee engagement initiative, and talent attraction marketing strategy.