PBS today announced several new long-term initiatives to support diversity in public media. They include a commitment to create a pipeline of diverse documentary filmmakers and a pledge to include more diverse perspectives in key production roles. PBS also announced it will launch on the video-focused social media platform TikTok. PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced the initiatives Tuesday at the TCA Winter Press Tour.
In a new partnership with Firelight Media, the non-profit filmmaking organization founded by Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith, PBS is committing $3.6 million over three years to support mid-career nonfiction filmmakers through the org’s William Greaves Fund. The Fund, which resources talented storytellers from diverse communities in the U.S., is designed to address the persistent structural challenges many filmmakers face after producing their first films. Firelight Media and PBS will hold a joint open call for filmmakers to submit projects for potential funding by PBS.
In an effort to support diverse voices across public media, PBS also announced a comprehensive initiative that includes an early-career filmmaker mentorship program and an executive fellowship program. It also includes the establishment of an accounting and reporting structure to evaluate the impact of the initiatives.
In the early-career filmmaker mentorship program, PBS will help emerging filmmakers build relationships within the public media system and equip mentees with the skills and relationships needed to produce content for public media platforms.
The year-long fellowship program will embed promising filmmakers and rising executives into existing productions. “In addition to supporting filmmakers, it will accelerate changes in the producing ecosystem by bringing more voices into the production process, and creating a wider pool of diverse candidates who make significant contributions to public media in both producing and executive roles,” according to PBS.
Additionally, for the first time, PBS will have a presence on TikTok. It is part of the public broadcaster’s effort to connect with younger, more diverse audiences and to amplify the voices and work of filmmakers, producers and influencers. PBS will use TikTok to create short-form video content to highlight fun facts about PBS and its program offerings as well as insights from PBS personalities and TikTok influencers.