Thinking About the Future of NPR

Friday’s Digital Think In with NPR was a wonderful experience, a deep dive into the unique opportunities and challenges facing NPR in the swirling media landscape that intersects with social networking, mobile technologies, shifting demographics, globalization, transformative financial realities, and global communications.

As a long-time NPR listener it was a privilege to participate in the day-long workshop and meet the sixty or so luminaries from a multitude of domains that gave up their Fridays to attend. It was a packed day, but everyone kept up a tremendous energy level throughout the whole seven hours of intensive thinking and collaborating. As one of the three floating moderators I was able to get a bit of a peek across several of the breakout groups, each of which was tackling a specific focus area such as social, revenue, and platform, and it was fascinating to see the teams grapple with the ideas. And there was no shortage of ideas -  we could easily have gone another day and still not captured everything.

NPR’s goal at the end was to define some actionable concepts that they could build on and carry forward in the coming years. To this end, throughout the day each team went through cycles of blowing out new ideas, then prioritizing and refining them. The last activity was to take their concepts and turn them into stories that described the changed user experience that came out of their concept.

The presentations at the end, each lasting about five minutes, were fantastic: richly detailed, compelling, and often very funny. NPR CEO and President, Vivian Schiller, suggested that the next time NPR does this they’ll make it an open mic night, so impressive were the enthusiastic presenters.

Check out Chris Heuer’s Flickr stream of the day, and the Digital Think In site itself with ongoing blog commentary.