BOSTON (November 1, 2018) – Reinforcing its leadership in public media, the WGBH Educational Foundation has unveiled the Campaign for WGBH: Leadership in the Digital Century, a five-year, $175 million-dollar capital campaign, the largest ever for a public media organization. The campaign is aimed at expanding WGBH’s base of philanthropic support to meet the challenges of the digital age and advance WGBH’s mission in education and children’s media, journalism, science, history, culture and drama.
“Serving our public media mission in the dynamic digital landscape means having flexibility to seize new opportunities, invest in research and development, and leverage new tools to empower our visionary storytellers, journalists and producers,” said Jon Abbott, President and CEO of WGBH. “Strengthening our financial future will advance WGBH as a media innovator and trusted provider of honest, educational content that includes and empowers all of our citizens.”
To date, $122 million has been raised from both individual and institutional donors – funds that will help WGBH sustain a robust operation and fund projects and initiatives that serve and reach diverse audiences in an age of unprecedented change in how and where people consume media.
“As an independent and locally owned, operated and governed media company, WGBH has always relied on philanthropy as a resource. It is ever more important now, when the promise of public media, namely untethered access to quality programs and journalism you can trust, is critical,” said Lynn Bay Dayton, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Campaign Co-Chair.
With the unveiling of the public phase of the campaign, WGBH is expanding its effort to garner wider participation as it aims to complete the campaign by the end of 2020.
“One of the goals of the campaign is to reach new generations of philanthropists to help sustain and create compelling content that supports an informed citizenry and ultimately a strong democracy,” added Rick Burnes, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Campaign Co-Chair.
Looking to the future as digital innovations transform media habits and platforms, WGBH is focused on providing its content to audiences through emerging technologies, streaming video and audio podcasting, partnerships with leading digital platforms, and expanded online education resources.
Most recently, the opportunity to strengthen PRI and PRX through a merger to allow for new content development was made possible by a $10 million investment, supported in part by the Campaign. A first-of-its-kind studio housed in the Boston Public Library, used for news broadcasts, intimate performances, a place to hear the voices in the community and discover the stories that matter, is another example of the kinds of initiatives the Campaign is making possible.
Through its Emerging Platforms Initiative, WGBH is seeking to experiment with new forms of storytelling, creating opportunities to expand audiences using new formats. Americans under the age of 34 are consuming media in different ways. Video content is increasingly being viewed from the mobile device, through a growing number of app-based services, and through social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and Snapchat. Lessons learned from the new initiative will inform future content decisions.
Original reporting remains the cornerstone of journalism at WGBH. Nationally, audiences benefit from America’s top long-form news and current affairs series, FRONTLINE, which launched its first podcast FRONTLINE Dispatch last year. Every day, more than three million listeners explore international perspectives through PRI’s The World, co-produced with the BBC. Regional radio and television news prioritizes local coverage, reinforced by the opening of a Dorchester bureau this year and the reach into the community through the studio at the Boston Public Library. Boston Public Radio leads in bringing issues of civic interest to the airways, while a continued investment in programs such as Innovation Hub and the K-12 Education Desk helps ensure WGBH News ranks among the finest local coverage in the nation.
Building on WGBH’s success as a leader in education and children’s media, with such programs as Arthur and Design Squad Global, WGBH is developing new tools for the classroom that will support a level playing field for learning. A partnership with PBS has built PBS LearningMedia, a next-generation digital media platform designed to help re-imagine classroom learning, transform teaching and more creatively engage students. Partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), WGBH has created a collection of free interactive K-12 digital resources through its Bringing the Universe to America’s Classroom initiative. Based on research funded by the National Science Foundation that shows media can enhance children’s learning, WGBH has just launched the Peep Family Science Apps, a free digital series of apps in English and Spanish designed to improve science learning for 3 to 5 year-olds.
In science, the series NOVA brings together top scientists and science media makers to engage on the critical issues of the day. NOVA has expanded its offerings to include NOVA Next, an award-winning digital publication and NOVA Labs, a free digital platform designed for teens and life-long learners. WGBH science offerings also include programs and initiatives such as Living Lab Radio, which offers conversations at the intersection of science and culture, and SMASH, the Science Media Awards and Summit in the Hub, produced in partnership with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
WGBH’s extraordinary achievements in cultural, historical and artistic programming provide opportunities to explore the stories of our past and discover trends shaping the future. Award-winning programs such as American Experience, the nation’s most watched history series, and Masterpiece, the longest running dramatic series in American television history, as well as 99.5 WCRB classical radio, all exemplify excellence in the arts. Locally, Open Studio shines a spotlight on the arts community, showcasing the sets, studios and stages of both known and new artists. These programs are now endeavoring, through digital platforms and online streaming, to better engage and understand their audiences.
“In this era of so-called “fake news,” it’s more apparent than ever that our community, and indeed, our nation, have a mission-centered, purpose-built public media,” continued Jon Abbott. “We need WGBH and media committed to sharing the truth, to shining a light in dark places, and to educating and empowering everyone, regardless of their means or station in life.”
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.