The Power of Public Media

Posted by Tom Axtell on
Tom Axtell
Tom Axtell, General Manager

Last month, Vegas PBS staff witnessed an amazing affirmation of all that is worthwhile, purposeful and powerful about your support of public service media. An icon of local broadcasting, our Mitch Fox, signed off as host of Nevada Week in Review after 40 years in local television and 35 years with our institution. His final broadcast was a typical roundup of top local news stories with perspective and opinion from the reporters who wrote the stories.

Our studio hosted a local journalism “family reunion” as the spouses of commentators Ralston, Sebelius and Baca joined Bob Fisher, Laura Myers and Gary Waddell to watch the final live program. They warmly recounted memories of personal employment history, dating, marriage and divorce, job transfers within the industry, technical TV disasters, and political winners and losers. It was a family event for dedicated journalists and close acquaintances who care about how government works and what it is supposed to do.

Being card carrying members of the Fourth Estate, they retired to a local eatery for drinks, food and conversation. An ever-changing entourage of well-wishers came to the restaurant, including Dave Courvoisier, Richard Velotta, Elizabeth Thompson and even U.S. Senator Dean Heller.

Mitch and Sen. Heller had a spirited exchange of stories about candidates, debates and legislative issues that spanned his two decades in politics. Every major newspaper and network station was represented. Reporters who have left news to become lobbyists or communications directors for the agencies they used to cover were also there.

They came because PBS and Vegas PBS have created a unique environment for meaningful, respected journalism. They came to praise the character and unbiased journalism of Mitch Fox, the emphasis on information above affirmation in public service media, and our relentless focus on substance over sensationalism. Mitch was a success because of who he is, but he was able to do his work because member donations allowed Vegas PBS to create a resolute environment for the noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian values that guide our journalism.

We are currently rotating respected journalists through “Mitch’s Chair” and will make a final replacement host selection in the months ahead. We seek a person with a deep understanding of Nevada history and politics, a commitment to exploring issues rather than demonizing individuals, and fearlessness about asking the powerful to explain their policies. I appreciate your thoughts on whom it should be.



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