WASHINGTON – The Broadcasting Board of Governors hosted a panel of six award-winning media executives to discuss digital storytelling techniques as a means of engaging audiences in rapidly changing media environments.
As part of the Board’s October meeting, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning show creator Ben Silverman moderated a discussion on developing stories, creating engaging content and connecting with the audience. Journalist and producer Soledad O’Brien, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, marketing executive Frank Cooper III, and media executives Charlie Corwin and Howard Thomas Owens offered ideas and observations, and praised the staff of the BBG networks for their creativity, dedication and sacrifices to inform people around the world
Chairman Jeff Shell introduced the panel to a standing-room only crowd including hundreds of journalists from across the networks, saying, “We have a lot to learn from each other.”
The 90-minute discussion included views on the need for authentic voices in content on any platform, the importance of integrated digital engagement, and successful show formats that make information on serious topics such as economics and health entertaining.
“Mobile is everything. People would rather give you their wallet than their mobile phone,” observed Cooper, who is Chief Marketing Officer of Consumer Engagement for PepsiCo, Inc.
“I encourage you to push the culture of change and evolution,” Ben Silverman told the audience, adding that one shouldn’t be afraid of failure. “We’ve all learned that without failure we won’t evolve, learn, and shift.”
O’Brien discussed the value of “convening a conversation with your audience,” both through digital platforms and in live programming in order to convey that “their voice matters.”
In addition to hosting the panel, the Board voted to create a Special Committee on the Voice of America in the 21st Century. The Board expressed their appreciation to Lynne Weil, who will leave the agency in early November, for her service as Director of Communications and External Affairs.
Shell opened the meeting by highlighting the dangers the agency’s journalists face on a daily basis.
“We are operating in media environments where authoritarian countries, struggling to control both information and their citizens, seek to censor objective voices and crack down on civil society, including independent press,” he noted before highlighting threats made to BBG journalists in Azerbaijan, Cuba, Crimea, China, and Syria.
He congratulated the agency on recent successes, including the launch of a new Russian-language television program co-produced by VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the successful delivery of news on the Hong Kong protests to mainland China, and the comprehensive and unwavering coverage of the Ebola crisis.
A recording of the October 30 meeting, including the panel discussion, will be made available here.