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Paul Loofburrow

OPB Launches Public Insight Network

OPB | Aug. 21, 2007 4:13 a.m. | Updated: Dec. 5, 2013 11:13 a.m.

August 27, 2007, PORTLAND, Ore. – Soon, what you know may become a part of what we know.

“Oregon Public Broadcasting is partnering with American Public Media in a pioneering effort – the Public Insight Network® – to open the station’s newsroom to the knowledge and insight of citizens,” announced OPB President and CEO Steve Bass. “The Public Insight Network®, or PIN®, will utilize the first-hand experience of a variety of people – from teachers and parents to nurses and farmers – anyone who has direct experience with the issues of the day.”

The Public Insight Network® launches on September 5, 2007 with a statewide call for public sources.

“OPB’s Public Insight Network® promises to diversify our news coverage and provide greater depth to the reporting we do,” Bass said. “We believe community members with all sorts of knowledge and expertise will lead us to stories we might not otherwise find. Basically, it converts news gathering from a top-down to a ground-up process, which we believe will strengthen our news coverage and help us better serve our listeners,” he said.

OPB is encouraging listeners from all areas of the community to sign up as public sources. Those who sign up will receive an e-mail no more than once a month asking them to share their observations and experiences on issues OPB is covering. If a source doesn’t have experience or knowledge about a particular topic, they are encouraged to forward the message to someone who does.

Responses to the OPB Public Insight Network® will land on the desk of Scott Silver, OPB Public Insight analyst, who will serve as gatekeeper for information that is submitted. Silver will read every response and then pass relevant information on to reporters and producers.

As OPB reporters explore various subjects, the Public Insight analyst will ask people in the Network to share their observations and experiences about these issues. These responses will connect reporters with people who have direct experience with the topic, and reveal angles and story lines that may be new to the reporter. Reporters may follow up with a request for more information or an interview. Public sources also are encouraged to suggest topics for potential news stories.

Stories that utilize Network sources are held to the same journalistic and editorial standards the OPB applies to all potential news material. Moreover, contributions from Network sources are treated as confidential material and will not appear without direct permission from the source.

Minnesota Public Radio (also under the auspices of American Public Media) successfully initiated its own public insight initiative four years ago. Today, its Public Insight Network® has grown into a database of nearly 30,000 volunteer sources, cataloged by profession, expertise and experience.

“Public insight journalism starts with a truth,” explained MPR’s Michael Skoler. ”On any given story, some people in the audience know more than even our smartest reporters and editors. No matter how hard newsrooms try with their hiring, they still have a hard time creating the kind of diversity that exists in the communities that they cover.”

OPB’s Public Insight Network® will have national news-gathering implications as well. OPB’s Network will feed into public insight programs launched concurrently by New Hampshire Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio and North Carolina Public Radio – steps towards developing a national network of public sources. This means Oregon’s pool of subject-savvy citizens will contribute to regional and local news developed by OPB, as well as national programming such as Marketplace and Weekend America.

To join the Public Insight Network®, visit www.opb.org/publicinsight or e-mail Scott Silver at publicinsight@opb.org. You can also contact him by phone at 503.977.7795. Anyone over the age of 13 can join the network, including OPB members and non-members.

About OPB
OPB is the state’s most far-reaching and accessible media resource, providing free access to programming for children and adults designed to give voice to community, connect Oregon and its neighbors and illuminate a wider world. Every week, over 1.5 million people tune in to or log on to OPB’s Television, Radio and Internet delivered services. As the hub of operations for the state’s Emergency Broadcast and Amber Alert services, OPB serves as the backbone for the distribution of critical information to broadcasters and homes throughout Oregon. OPB is one of the largest producers and presenters of national television programming through PBS, and is also a member station of NPR, Public Radio International (PRI), and American Public Media (APM). The OPB Web site is www.opb.org.

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