VPR-VTPBS Collaborative Work

Mar 8, 2019

VPR and Vermont PBS

A New Collaboration in Three Parts

In 2018, for the first time VPR and Vermont PBS embarked on a three-part collaboration: a weekly News Minute of top headlines for television broadcast and social media distribution; two public opinion polls prior to the November midterm elections; and a set of four General Election live debates simulcast on television and radio.  The intent of the collaboration was to combine resources for better public service, to establish a framework for future collaboration, and to reach new audiences.   The new collaboration brought to television and radio audiences a historic debate with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and his opponent Christine Hallquist, who had national coverage as the country’s first openly transgender gubernatorial candidate from a major party.  Meanwhile, the public opinion polls revealed Vermonters’ experiences with important concerns such as racism in Vermont, the cost of living, and sexual harassment among others. Project successes included increased public service and engagement, public education, visibility of two publics working together, high digital use of two public opinion polls, shared resources, and larger reach. Project challenges included establishing a framework for trust on a variety of organizational levels, staff time to create new processes and communication to carry out the combined operations, various compromises to achieve the best outcomes for both organizations, as well as cooperating on a candidate inclusion policy for election debates.

Ongoing Weekly News Minute

The News Minute, the first project of the three, was created in May 2018 by VPR and Vermont PBS to reach new audiences with a weekly newscast at the top of the PBS Newshour. It also was distributed on social media.  The News Minute summarized top news stories, was hosted by a VPR host and was filmed and produced by Vermont PBS.

Two Public Opinion Polls

Two public opinion polls were planned by the partners for July and October in order to provide audiences of the region access to reliable public opinion polling information, analysis and data pertinent to Vermont in the 2018 election year as well as key issues relevant to Vermonters in general.  A pre-Primary Election news poll and pre-General Election news poll were created on a newly developed joint website and were the focus of programming on both radio and television.

Four Election Debates

The most complex and highest profile partnership was the production of a series of four joint General Election debates. The series included debates for governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The partnership debates were broadcast simultaneously on VPR and Vermont PBS and streamed online. VPR master control mixed the audio and sent the signal to its air, and sent the program to the Vermont PBS remote truck, where Vermont PBS mixed audio and visual to relay their broadcast signal.