NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

The State of My Industry: Telling the Story of a Live Democracy

The State of My Industry: Telling the Story of a Live Democracy



Originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse on March 23, 2016

A year ago, I wrote about the state of my industry and proudly reported that while we faced challenges, we were fast at work changing stereotypes, meeting the needs of digital consumers, and playing a central role in the Internet revolution. These things are still true, but much has changed in the last year. Today, we’re working to re-define our relationship with the people who rely on us for entertainment, for business, and for information. We’re no longer allowing ourselves to be defined by the terminologies and memes of the past, but looking forward to how we will identify ourselves in the future. After all, we’re America’s leading Internet provider. We’re the creators of amazing, beautiful stories shared the world over. And we’re pushing the limits of what’s technologically possible over our networks.

But as some things change, others remain the same. What captures my industry today isn’t solely a quest for a new identity that adapts to changing technology and consumer preferences, it’s also supporting what we’ve been doing really well for the last 35 years. It’s an election year and my industry is doing what it does best; supporting the instruments of free press through some of the most widely available, comprehensive coverage of the democratic process in the world. And while viewers have many choices for how they get their news, few outlets personify our commitment to open access to critical information better than C-SPAN.

Founded in 1979, C-SPAN was designed to be a window into the political process. Its sole mission was, and continues to be, to deliver an un-filtered, un-editorialized access into the places where public policy is discussed and decided upon. And perhaps most importantly, it’s designed as a non-profit, entirely funded by local affiliates, not advertisers or investors or tax dollars. C-SPAN’s bread and butter is covering the goings-on of the House of Representatives, but in election years, it also means C-SPAN is covering the hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of candidate rallies, town hall gatherings, church meet-and-greets, and rustic diner handshake-a-paloozas that have come to define presidential politics.

As a representative of a rapidly changing industry, one of the most important parts of my job is to find ways to tell our story. C-SPAN, how it does what it does, and what makes it special is a big part of that story, which is why I sent my team to New Hampshire to film C-SPAN as they covered the New Hampshire primary in early February. I asked them to capture and highlight what an important public service C-SPAN is, how unique it is, and how it’s more than just a news source, it’s how we show how our democracy works. There is no other resource like it in the world. After two days in New Hampshire, this is what they came back with:

So what is the state of my industry? The answer is busy, but thrilled. We’re using the incredible power of our networks to show the world how America picks a president. And while we honor and support what has always made our industry great, we’re looking to the future, prepared to re-define ourselves as the needs of consumers change and our relationships with them evolve. Keeping one foot in our past and the other in our future isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly important part of supporting and growing my industry.