Responsible Social Media

Monday’s Wall Street Journal features an interview with Ken Stern, CEO of National Public Radio from the US. NPR does what is says on the can: it is public radio. NPR solicits charitable underwriting for its programming and also receives about 12% of its total income from the US Federal Government. With such a radical reorganisation of traditional media, you might expect such an institution with a shaky capital base to be shuffling off this mortal coil. Not a bit of it – it has doubled its audience from 13 million to 26 million in the past 10 years. This is thanks in no small part to NPR’s embrace of new social media outlets.

It was interesting to read Stern’s view of NPR’s special place in public life as a truly independent public broadcaster:

‘It’s important to building civic society, it’s important to democracy, it’s important to public disclosure

Stern provides 5 top tips for moving your company into the digital age responsibly:

    • Speed up. Pace of innovation is accelerating.
    • Your business model may change but your values never do.
    • Invest in your employees and take them with you – challenge, train and retrain
    • Embrace new partnerships and alliances
    • Never forget your core business

Last year Joan Kroc, heir to the McDonalds fortune left $225 million to NPR upon her death which now yields an annuity equal to 8% of NPR’s current operating budget. It is good to see this fine example of a philanthropic virtuous circle where fortunes made in the private sector are invested back towards strengthening our civil society, so necessary for a stable social climate where commerce can continue to flourish. It is also good to see web 2.0 enabling NPR’s work towards such goals.


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