Public media is continuing to offer innovative services in education, public safety and local and national journalism that benefit communities during this unprecedented time.
Attached (below) is an update on public media activities in your state that I thought you and your boss would find of great interest. In addition, below are some highlights not included in the one-pager, but are worth noting.
In education, Texas public television stations were recently recognized for their work in supporting distance learning for students. The Texas Education Commissioner, Mike Morath, recently commented on the service saying, “This joint initiative between TEA and PBS stands to benefit all students as they work each day to navigate uncharted waters and continue to do their best to learn and grow as students and individuals. While we’re living through uncertain times, we are thankful to have PBS commit itself in such a meaningful way to serve the needs of communities across our state. We are all in this together, and our friends at PBS understand and exemplify that.”
In public safety, public media stations are the backbone of the nationwide Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, providing a backup path for the distribution of critical, geotargeted alerts to mobile devices. Nationwide, between March 12 and April 7, 2020, more than 180 wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) have been issued by state and local authorities and transmitted over the PBS WARN system in different parts of the country. Nearly 110 of those alerts were for COVID-19, harnessing for the first time the reach and ubiquity of mobile device communications to address a pandemic.
Lastly, thanks to the funding in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), CPB was able to quickly distribute stabilization funding to public media stations across the country. In Texas, CPB distributed $3,897,385 to public television and radio stations across the state. You can find a complete list of the CARES funding distribution to stations here.
We are grateful for Congress’ support of public media and will continue to keep you updated on the great work of your stations in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, please let Anne or me know if you have any questions.
Public Broadcasting in Texas 2020
Texas Public Media Stations are Serving their Communities during COVID-19
During this unprecedented time, Texas public media stations are responding to community needs and delivering news, information and educational services that benefit the daily lives of people across the state.
Local & National Educational Resources
With schools closed across our country due to the coronavirus pandemic, public media stations are offering their broadcast and online services to help teachers continue educational instruction and close the homework gap (those who are connected online and the many who are not).
- The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and 10 Texas PBS stations partnered to air state standards-aligned, educational programming each week during the COVID-19 pandemic. The At-Home Learning initiative will reach 96 percent of Texas’ student-age population and provide educational access to students who lack broadband internet or computers.
- PBS LearningMedia, which is aimed at educators, has curated special collections in English and Spanish to support instruction during emergency closings. A Pre-K-12 Resources for Emergency Closings Collection on PBS LearningMedia is a collection of resources organized by grade and subject areas, including videos, lesson plans and activities that support learning at home. LearningMedia usage increased from 1 million to 2.6 million during March 2020, and to more than 3 million by the end of April 2020.
- Local Journalism
Texas public media stations play a vital role in informing the local community about the latest coronavirus developments, delivering critical reporting and spotlighting local resources intended to help Texans navigate these uncertain times.
- The CPB-supported, statewide collaboration Texas Newsroom is producing content for six statewide newscasts every weekday, the statewide magazine Texas Standard, national NPR newscasts, and other COVID-19 content for stations across Texas.
- As part of the CPB-funded American Homefront public media collaboration, Texas Public Radio (TPR) reported on how The Military Has Altered Boot Camp To Protect Trainees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Texas Public Radio launched the podcast Petrie Dish, TPR’s explainer podcast about the coronavirus pandemic. The host Bonnie Petrie talks to a virologist about what exactly the coronavirus is and how scientists are studying it.
- Houston Public Media’s bi-weekly, live call-in show, Houston Matters, shifted to focus on the coronavirus. The station also offers a dedicated coronavirus news and resource page.
- Reporting by Houston Public Media explains how social distancing guidelines can be more difficult for people struggling with mental health.
- KAMU hosted a Town Hall on Facebook Live that enabled concerned students, parents, faculty and staff to question university leaders about actions regarding the current pandemic.
- KAMU will air a series, COVID-19: The Texas A&M System Responds, with Chancellor John Sharp speaking with scientists and other experts taking about TAMU’s role in addressing the pandemic, including Dr. Peter Hotez, who is developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine through his research into the SARS outbreak.
- Texas Public Radio is providing information on COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, along with how local businesses are adjusting, how you can help those in need and what you can do to stay entertained at home. TPR is also providing live updates on the Rio Grande Valley.
- Other Services
- To help offset feelings of isolation and anxiety, Houston Public Media invited listeners to submit songsand their stories for a Houston Matters Mixtape made up of Houstonians’ favorite songs.
- Marfa Public Radio hosted a two-hour virtual dance party on March 20 called “Dancing on Your Own” to ease prolonged social isolation. Marfa Public Radio broadcasts across 30,000 square miles along West Texas and its pandemic coverage has garnered national media attention
Quality journalism takes time, effort and…. Money!
Producing quality journalism is not cheap. The coronavirus has resulted in falling revenues across the newsrooms of the United States. However, The Rio Grande Guardian is committed to producing quality news reporting on the issues that matter to border residents. The support of our members is vital in ensuring our mission gets fulfilled.
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