New funding effort for public media


The Public Radio Exchange (PRX) will launch a new effort to provide funding and expertise to entrepreneurial teams with innovative ideas to increase the impact of public service media. Called the Public Media Accelerator, the project is supported by a $2.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

While PRX is operating the program, it is targeting a lot more than radio. Modeled on mentorship-driven technology startup incubators, the Public Media Accelerator says it aims to strengthen public media’s essential role in meeting community information needs across new platforms and devices.

“Forty years ago, public broadcasting harnessed the technology of the time to engage audiences with high quality content that was otherwise inaccessible,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “We are expanding this vital service to include today’s pervasive and participatory media, particularly mobile.”

“Through funding more than 200 community information experiments, we’ve found that the models with the best success are nurtured through outside advice and expertise,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation’s vice president for journalism and media innovation. “We hope the Public Media Accelerator will bring public media’s quality journalism into more people’s lives, by using technology to expand its reach.”

The Public Media Accelerator will invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures, building apps, services and media products. Successful projects will be showcased to additional funders and investors, and will receive support through a partner and sponsor network.

The Public Media Accelerator will formally launch in March at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference in Austin and will name a director and advisory board early next year.

RBR-TVBR observation: We hear a lot of pie-in-the-sky talk about community-based media, mostly by media critics who have no grasp of what it actually costs to create and distribute audio, video and/or text product. This initiative is to be commended for addressing the financial reality of public media.