This week the Center for Media and Social Impact kicks off its Media That Matters (Feb 19-20) conference at American University. This year’s focus is on impact, especially the impact of documentaries from award-winning PBS series like P.O.V. and Independent Lens. The Washington, DC forum below and several others in major cities are part of a “PBS National Listening Tour.”

The impetus for the “Listening Tour” with PBS executives was a decision near the end of 2014 by New York PBS station WNET Channel 13 (also a national producer of PBS series Great Performances, American Masters) to movie independent documentary series P.O.V. and “Independent Lens” from prime-time on their primary channel to their WLIW Long Island digital channel on Mondays at 10 PM with a rebroadcast on the primary channel at 11 PM on Sundays. How does it feel to be forced out of Manhattan and moved to Long Island? Independent filmmakers were (you guessed it) outraged.

Fortunately WNET put the breaks on the decision until May and agreed to hear filmmakers and the public’s stories about the impact of documentary films in their lives and in community — many of these docs have been featured on this blog.

If you’re in Washington, DC this week – or stuck here for the weather – feel free to check into the Media That Matters event below on February 19. If you’re in New York February 23, WNET, PBS and series executives will be holding a similar forum from 2 – 5 PM at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

Has a community screening of “Independent Lens” or “POV” filmĀ changed the way you look at the world?

Has a particular film captured your voice and your struggles?

If so, we need your help!

Please attend the D.C Media That Matters event on Thursday, February 19 (details below)

This is a FREE Event – RSVP Eventbrite


Public TV and Independent, Point of View Documentary

Thursday, February 19
6:30 – 8:00pm
Malsi Doyle & Michael Forman Theater
2nd Floor, McKinley Building
American University Campus

Does public TV need independent and underrepresented voices? Do independent and underrepresented voices need public TV? When WNET contemplated moving Independent Lens and POV off the prime-time schedule in December, it triggered a nation-wide protest. WNET and PBS restored the series to the schedule until May, and promised to hold a listening tour. At this public hearing, viewers, organization heads, and filmmakers talk with public TV executives. Join them!


Moderator: Melissa Houghton, WIFV*
Tamara Gould, ITVS
Eliza Licht, POV
Ivana Jackson, WHUT*
Marie Nelson, PBS
Bernardo Ruiz, Quiet Pictures (“Los Graduados/The Graduates”)
Rick Schneider, WETA
Stephen Segaller, WNET
Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets*
Joseph Tovares, CPB
Larry Unger, MPT

Read Variety article for more information and background for these public forms in several cities.

If you’re willing to make a short personal testimonial in front of the panel, contact indiecaucus[at]gmail[dot]com.

See highlights from the forum in San Francisco: