interactive

Strategy from a Swordfighter

Musashi Miyamoto, right, as depicted by artist Yoshitaki Tsunejiro

 

Musashi Minamoto, right, as depicted by artist Yoshitake Tsunejiro.

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiOne of the greatest swordfighters in history comes to mind as PBS Hawai‘i sets out to draft a new strategic plan to guide us in a rapidly changing media environment.

 

“Do nothing which is of no use,” wrote samurai Musashi Miyamoto, when he wasn’t roaming Japan wielding two swords, facing enemies in the Edo period.

 

Yes, Miyamoto-San, we must decide what skills and habits of mind we need to take with us into the future, in order to serve up great content on the many viewing screens in people’s lives. Folks might want to lean back for an hour-long documentary on a big wall monitor; catch a one-minute clip on their smartphone; or participate in a globally interactive discussion on their tablet. In fact, it’s already become common for people to use two digital devices at the same time to access content.

 

“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy, it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” So true, Minamoto-San, as we clear the bias of the present moment and attempt to see with clarity how we and fellow Islanders will want to use media and storytelling in the years ahead. Our organization used to peer ahead five years; now, even trying to pin down the next three years in this industry seems foolhardy.

 

In meetings held so far, our Board of Directors, Staff and stakeholders agree that PBS Hawai‘i must create a far-reaching system of touch points for people to encounter our programming. We’ll go where people are, rather than wait for them on a television monitor. We’ll continue to broadcast. However, many more people will want to engage in content online, selecting what they want to see when they want to see it. We want that, too.

 

First and foremost, we’re storytellers. We can and will adapt, to meet the need for quality stories and interactivity in different ways on different digital devices.

 

“Fixation is the way to death. Fluidity is the way to life,” wrote Miyamoto, who was known for anticipating an opponent’s moves and unleashing unexpected moves to bring victory.

 

However, the future isn’t all about fluidity and change. Like many of our viewers, we intend to hold onto our mindsets of curiosity, discovery, resilience, fairness; our belief in exposure to diverse viewpoints and civil discourse; and the value of universal access to education and reliable information.

 

When our Board of Directors adopts a new strategic plan at mid-year, we’ll share the plan with you and count on your feedback as we evolve. As Miyamoto-San said, “It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.”

 

At least we don’t run the risk of sword injuries! We do stand a fighting chance of creating richer and more versatile viewing experiences for you.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
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More incumbents sitting out debates?

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I: The set of INSIGHTS

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiGeneral Managers of PBS stations across the country met last month for a strategy session, looking at what kind of programming is needed most in our country, and how to make the content more responsive and more interactive.

 

And in this election year of deep divisions and negativity, we compared notes on our television stations’ political debates and other forums. Longtime station managers remarked that they’d never seen so many local incumbents decline to appear with their challengers on live telecasts and live web streams.

 

“These incumbents have the money to create their own messages through advertising, and that’s what they’re doing instead,” said Tom Axtell, the head of Vegas PBS and a member of the PBS Board of Directors. Another GM noted that many candidates no longer feel obligated to appear alongside their competition because they can speak to the public through low-cost social media.

 

In Hawai‘i, we had our share of incumbents turning down participation in our weekly election forum on Insights on PBS Hawai‘i, noting scheduling conflicts. We know that candidates are busy, so we generally ask them early. And we realize that incumbents may not be terribly motivated to let their lesser-known competitors receive statewide air time.

 

In addition, incumbents from 34 Hawai‘i State House and Senate races faced no opposition from another major-party candidate.

 

We even had a challenger withdraw from a General Election forum. That was Honolulu Mayoral candidate and political veteran Charles Djou. His campaign contended that it had never committed to the forum. (Before the Primary Election, Djou did take part in our forum with incumbent Mayor Kirk Caldwell and former Mayor Peter Carlisle.)

 

The rebuffs by candidates in some major races had a silver lining, freeing up TV time for district races, especially outside Honolulu and beyond O‘ahu. Incumbents and challengers with different ideas sat down at the same table, engaging in some interesting, vigorous and respectful discussions.

 

Viewers could feel the fresh breeze of democracy. At its best, this civil discourse provided much-needed substance and helped voters make their choice at the polls.

 

As Communications Professor John Hart of Hawai‘i Pacific University commented in a Honolulu Civil Beat podcast with reporter Chad Blair last October 10: “I still believe [debates] are our best chance to see past the pseudo-events, the slick advertisements. When you hear someone talk for an hour, you get a sense of who they are.”

 

This public media organization wants to thank all of the election candidates who accepted our invitation to inform voters by answering viewer questions and taking part in civil discourse on Insights on PBS Hawai‘i.

 

A hui hou (until next time)…
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