Looking the Other Way
Both chief executive and board ignore their accountability Now when you turn on channel 12, there is only snow. Where there used to be documentaries, short films by budding directors, coverage of local cultural events, and public service announcements, there is nothing. Viewers have no idea what happened. The station manager can't be reached. Board members change the subject if it comes up. Since its creation eight years ago, WBJR, channel 12, had experienced ups and downs. Channel 12 was the dream of Isabel Max, who wanted to create a progressive venue for broadcasting that would serve the public. Isabel wanted WBJR to be for everyone, like public access TV, but more polished and professional. She wanted her station to have a reputation for solid educational and innovative content, but less prescriptive than traditional public television networks. She wanted to carve a niche in broadcasting where people concerned about their world could come for thought-provoking, refreshing content. A lofty and admirable goal, agreed many supporters. Isabel recruited a board that included veteran broadcasters, leaders from across the nonprofit arena, and a few friends who had started their own businesses as well. The board was excited by Isabel's vision and extremely encouraging. Isabel worked energetically toward her goal of providing high-quality programming, allowing little time to think about financial solvency, board development, and other less glamorous issues. Isabel was fortunate to secure a large start-up grant from a major foundation that enabled her to get channel 12 off the ground. She signed up corporate sponsors to underwrite programming. She didn't hire a finance officer, assuming the board treasurer would help. The board treasurer and other board members were happy to help by signing letters, attending parties, and showing up when WBJR won an award. When times were good, the board members were always excited to talk about...
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