Puzzling through the Impact of Technology on Media

A look backward at a look forward from 1978

Richard Gingras
23 min readMar 13, 2022

From 1973 to 1977 I worked at the Public Broadcasting Service in Washington, DC. Interesting times at PBS. The Watergate Hearings began that first summer. PBS aired them gavel-to-gavel incurring the wrath of still-President Nixon. I started as a file clerk, the assistant to the assistant to vice president for programming, Samuel C. O. Holt. I read and filed every document that came in or out of that office. The job paid $6,000 a year. It also gave me an advanced degree in the art, science, and politics of television programming.

Over the next few years I came to the attention of Hartford N. Gunn, the founding president of PBS and the visionary architect of public television in the United States. Hartford believed in the power of technology to form the future of media. “It establishes the playing field, it changes the rules of engagement,” was his repeated mentoring theme.

Gunn’s close relationship with Sony’s Akio Morita earned PBS early versions of the latest low light cameras. His support of Nam June Paik enabled the birth of video art. At dinners in the mid 1970s with Gerald Levin, the pioneering head of HBO, he developed his thinking to follow in the close footsteps of HBO and build a satellite network interconnecting all US public television stations. It was one of the very first television satellite networks.

I listened. I took notes. I assembled bits into docs, docs into plans.

It was a massive effort requiring the installation of large 10-meter satellite dishes, the long-term leasing of transponders on yet-to-be-launched satellites, the construction of large satellite up-link facilities, and all the gear and operating policies and procedures to make it all work. But the benefits would be huge.

At that time the distribution of television programs was either very expensive or very awkward. Most programs went the awkward route, the unreliable “bicycling” of videotapes from one station to the next. The live programming schedule required pricey high-bandwidth telephone lines leased from AT&T.

In 1978 I wrote a “think piece” on how satellite distribution would change the landscape of public television overall. On the commercial side, satellite delivery was on the cusp, knowingly or not, of enabling the explosive growth in cable television to the home. Here’s a look backward at what was then look forward.

Do note: the Internet did NOT exist. We had conversations using wired telephone lines. We had television sets with rabbit-eared antennas. We used physical maps. We typed on IBM Selectrics. We sent each other paper memos. We sent letters on letterhead. I had an Associated Press teletype rattling out the news a few yards from my desk — and a five bell alert when a big story was about to come through.

How we perceive the future is a curious thing. Back then the comparative slow pace of technological development gave us some (questionable) confidence that we could forecast the impact. Such has been the repetitive experience of my career — only the pace quickened and the vectors of impact broadened.

Whether I grasped it or not, the theme was the impact of changes in distribution on media and the marketplace of programming, of ideas.

I’ve added in a few current observations.

The Public Television Satellite System: Turning Point Or High Anxiety?
Public Telecommunications Review
May-June 1978

You might call them super stations. At least that’s what they’re called in commercial television. Ted Turner, the maverick who owns the Atlanta Braves and won the America’s Cup with Courageous, owns one outside of Atlanta. In fact that’s how he’s made a lot of his money. He’s taken WTBS, a small UHF outfit and transformed it into a major distribution entity reaching over a million cable subscribers with reruns of Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy. He does it with an RCA satellite hookup that connects 200 cable companies from New York to California. What he’s now doing with reruns, he’s also doing with sporting events made-for-TV movies, and maybe even the Metropolitan Opera He’s got the commercial networks scared silly because very soon, in addition to cable companies, he’ll be able to reach television stations. It’s the way of the future, and Ted Turner is riding the crest.

There’s talk about super-stations in public television also. Only the name that’s used is slightly more esoteric. They’re called “public telecommunications centers”. Right now, it’s still a concept, but it’s even more exciting than the antics of Ted Turner.

Picture, if you will, a typical public television station presently offering the potpourri of PTV on a single over-the-air frequency. Add to that another broadcast frequency, or more if possible. Then toss in a couple of microwave links to schools and universities and grab all the channels you can from the local cable system. Not you’ve bought yourself a buffet table, but what are you going to serve.

First thing you do is take all the in-school material and put it on the closed links; it’s easier for the schools to use, and it frees up air time. The main over-the-air channel is saved for big audience bonanzas — Upstairs Downstairs and the like. The second channel is used for public affairs, congressional hearings and all the important material that some offered but few people watch. On the cable channels you can program adult instruction, foreign films, and a character-generated news service.

If lack of energy doesn’t stop you there, you can distribute programs like Ted Turner did to public television stations across the country. You can offer the programs you produce, the documentaries you acquire, and coverage of the Tour de France live on an INTELSAT link from Paris. Beyond that, you have every X-ray technician in the community assembled to participate in a national teleseminar on “Calming Patient Fears About Harmful Effects.”

No doubt, you have fingers in more pies than you have fingers, but it sure beats trying to justify your existence based on a 3.5 rating for I, Claudius.

The cornerstone of the operation is the satellite dish sitting outside the station. Through it is received the majority of programming which fills the many delivery channels, and transmitted from it are all the programs delivered to other stations. It makes it all work.

It’s been two years (19767–78) since public television decided to construct its satellite interconnection. That decision culminated after much deliberation over the prospects of abandoning “Ma” Bell for the unfamiliar world of satellite communications. The decision wasn’t easy. An industry which for almost a decade had been interconnected by the traditional AT&T landline system was considering a drastic switch to a new and complicated technology which previously had been applied in only limited terms to television. Millions of dollars were at stake in an industry where millions were scarce. But the new technology offered brilliant promise. In fact, it seemed tailored to the needs and, indeed, the future of public broadcasting. Huge loans were arranged, contracts signed, and licenses obtained.

With surprising efficiency, the massive and complex system involving the installation of 158 receive and transmit terminals began to take shape. By February 1978, construction in the southeastern United States was completed, and on March 1, with satellite transmission successfully serving that region, the AT&T plug was pulled. Unless something goes awry between now and November 1, the remainder of the system will be complete and the final land-line interconnection severed. But many questions persist. Though reams of paper have been expended exploring the potential of satellite networking, a good deal of perplexity remains concerning how it will be applied. Some have horrific visions of program managers overwhelmed by the abundance of material, much like a baseball player trying to catch four line drives simultaneously. Others see it as no more than a delay center in the sky, a more efficient method of serving time zones.

Outside the system one confronts either the blank faces of the totally unknowing or the blissful grins of those who know too little. One encounters independent producers who, sadly, perceive the satellite as the instant answer to their distribution dreams, and public interest telecommunicators who too quickly suggest that Westar I will cut to shreds the phone bills of non profit organization without cause; and, Such confusion doesn’t arise indeed, with the introduction of any new technology, a certain amount of fallacious fallout is likely to occur. Possibly, one can gain from a considered perspective on the changes that are taking place.

Why It Was Built (If You Don’t Already Know)

It’s been humorously suggested that the simplest way to define public broadcasting’s mandate is to say it should be “all things to all people.” Others laugh less loudly. If that is the system’s mandate and if it is to be achieved to any extent, interconnection by satellite will certainly provide a more effective distribution tool than the single-line, land-based AT&T system.

The foremost distinction of the satellite system is its multi-channel capacity. Public television will have at its disposal four channels, or transponders, leased on Westar I (plus additional time leased as needed on other transponders). This ability to simultaneously deliver numerous programs will give public television the opportunity to greatly expand local autonomy, local independence, and, as a result, diversity in programming. No longer will public television be restricted by a single-line network which, because of its limitations, could only be used for programs intended for a large number of users. With multichannel capacity, it is more likely that smaller groups of stations can benefit from the efficiencies of network distribution. As a result, a station should have greater freedom to program according to the specific needs and tastes of its community.

But to possess a sophisticated multichannel distribution network whose product will only be partially used at the receiving end is an unfortunate waste of resources. Like the public television super station,” a station could develop local means of distribution far beyond single-channel broadcast to extend the diversity and flexibility made possible by the satellite directly to the viewer. A station could also provide a variety of non program-related communications services such as teleconferencing and possibly data transmission. A satellite receive terminal, and the network which a collection represents, is a sophisticated communications tool that can do many more things than distribute television programs.

Last, a satellite system offers a number of immediately applicable technical advantages. It can deliver video and audio signals superior to those sent by deteriorating land-lines, and it will allow for the simple and cost-efficient addition of new stations. The latter will be possible due to the distance insensitivity of satellite communications, a term meaning that a satellite can just as easily send a signal to Montana as it can to Maine. While it may have been prohibitively expensive to interconnect a station by landlines where the equipment was inadequate or nonexistent, with a satellite one need simply install a receiving terminal. The interconnection is therefore easily expandable. And all of the advantages of the satellite interconnection are available at a cost comparable to the single-line AT&T system.

Programs, Programs, Programs

To best get a sense of its impact on programming one might think of the satellite interconnection as a brand-new tool whose potential uses-both simple and complex have not been fully realized. Also, like any other tool, the satellite is used to accomplish a task, to assist in the achievement of an end. In itself it does not represent an accomplishment, but only the opportunity to accomplish.

Alone it will not achieve program diversity, but will provide the opportunity to achieve that diversity. Toward that end, PBS will have more time and flexibility to offer its service, and the regional networks more time to provide theirs (and without geographic restrictions), Time will also be available for station consortia assembled for the purpose of distributing programs of their specific interest. However, the changes that will occur in programming in the next few years will be more gradual and less drastic than many people think. Though the system will now have the capability for multichannel distribution, that expanded capacity will exist only between the originating points of distribution and the stations. That multichannel capacity will end at the station; thus its full benefits will not reach the viewer. A station which had been broadcasting sixteen hours of programming a day with the land-line system will not be likely to broadcast more than sixteen hours a day with the satellite. Therefore, stations will not be searching for many more additional hours of programming than they did before. They may wish to replace repeats with original programs, but this alone will not represent a large increase. (The system has aired considerably fewer repeats with every passing year; however, there is still a good argument for offering within-the week repeats of PTV’s best material.)

So, the quantitative programming needs of stations will not suddenly or drastically increase. This may come as a disappointment to distributors who have considered too literally the immediate prospects of PTV’s four channel satellite system. Access to the satellite is not necessarily access to air time.

Though the quantitative programming needs of stations will not increase, the satellite will have a substantial effect on the manner in which stations assemble their schedules. In the past, where the single line AT&T link was the only interconnection, the typical PTV station relied to a great extent on the PBS national program service for the programming in its schedule. Beyond the 60–70 percent derived from that source, a program manager would fill out his schedule with material produced locally or from regional networks and independent distributors. With the exception of non-SPC programs distributed by PBS, all material in the station’s schedule had (for all intents and purposes) been “cleared” before air. That is to say, the station, financially or otherwise, had made a commitment to use the programs before they actually aired. Again, only the PBS programs available to all stations were sent down the line without prior indication of intent to use.

With the four-channel satellite system, PBS, at least at the outset, will not alter its policies on clearance, though one can presume that large and specifically corporate) underwriters will apply greater pressure on PBS to obtain station clearances. Underwriters will accurately perceive the heightened competition for station air time and will seek reasonable as insurances that the programs they support are reaching the viewer. With the four-channel satellite system, PBS, at least at the outset, will not alter its policies on clearance, though one can presume that large and specifically corporate) underwriters will apply greater pressure on PBS to obtain station clearances. Underwriters will accurately perceive the heightened competition for station air time and will seek reasonable as insurances that the programs they support are reaching the viewer.

Beyond PBS, stations will engage with other sources of programs much as they have in the past. They will select programs at regional network screenings or through independent distributors and will make a commitment to buy or use a program. The satellite may be used for preview screenings but only to the extent that it remains practical. A program manager can devote only so many hours a day to screening programs. That total may be far less than the number of hours which eager distributors wish to feed. One might suspect that after several unsuccessful preview experiences, distributor with the exception of limited previews, it will make no practical sense to transmit a program to the satellite unless stations on the other end have committed themselves to using it. Programs will not go up to the bird for the sole purpose of providing stations with choice. Greater choice will be found in the programming process, in regional screenings and based on the initiative of stations to form consortia. Whatever change does take place in PTV program-ming will come as a result of station initiative. The stations will have more control than ever before. The bottleneck has shifted. The traffic flow will be less and less redirected by PBS and more by the stations through their regional networks or on their own. The freedom of choice and the responsibility of choice will belong to the stations.

But how will PBS change? kind of role will it play? What kind of role do the stations want it to play? These are difficult questions, and PBS finds itself in an awkward position trying to provide the answers. The introduction of the satellite bring the fore the friction between the dichotomous roles PBS must play. On the one hand, it must serve the stations as the primary distributor of national programs; and on the other, it must serve the stations as the defender of the totality of their interests. At times these roles coincide, at other times they conflict. Sometimes the conflicts are real, sometimes imaginary. At present, PBS is attempting to sort them out.

As for its programming responsibilities, PBS will very likely continue to do what it does best: provide a core national service. In fact, with the increased availability of program sources outside PBS, and the competition for station time those sources represent, PBS may wish to concentrate more of its energies and resources on the prime-time schedule, It may, however, face some difficulties. As mentioned earlier large underwriters may be concerned about the uncertainty of station use of their programs. There is little doubt that the carriage of some PBS programs will decline in the face of other opportunities. Therefore, it will be incumbent on PBS to maintain a high quality of programs to insure station carriage and/or to encourage the system to agree to a clearance arrangement. Clearance is a controversial issue, but it may be the only practical answer. If PBS cannot or chooses not to enlarge the quantity of the core service, it may quite likely expand service in the area of events coverage. The satellite is an ideal tool for providing timely special events material as an alternative to the hard service. And as methods for covering congressional hearings are refined and made less costly, the amount of such material will again increase. This will be an ideal service to stations whose communities may have a parochial interest in certain current issues. Public affairs programs in general will benefit from the ease with which the interconnection can be adapted for multiple originations and program assembly. As a result, the MacNeil/Lehrer Report could shed its New York Washington emphasis and become a truly nationwide program.

Beyond its programming activities, PBS has an important and sometimes controversial role to play as gatekeeper of the four CPB-leased transponders. With the successful formulation of transponder allocation policies to guide gatekeeping activities, one could conclude that PBS has overcome the first conflict of roles. No doubt PBS needed to be prodded by stations into reaching this resolution, but the mere existence of the Transponder Allocation Committee proves the system can indeed establish practical means to grapple with the complex issues the satellite presents. With the transponder allocation policies in place it is assured that regional networks will have more time to provide program services. Also, with the satellite, regional networks need no longer be regional. Therefore, the membership lists of the regional networks can become more national scope. Due to increases in time and the potent for new memberships, the satellite should have a tremendous impact on their activities. The extent to which it does will vary from region to region, and since programs distributed by regional networks are agreed upon by the member/users before distribution, the changes will depend on each network member stations. If they are dissatisfied with what they receive from PBS, stations may use the regional networks to obtain the programs they do want. One might expect a continuing fluctuation between these program sources as they compete for station attention. This creative tension may prove fruitful, though it might also serve to eliminate those organizations which cannot develop an area of service.

Station access to transponder time will create opportunities for the formation of ad hoc networks assembled by stations for the use of a specific program or series of programs, or to take advantage of live event or hearing coverage not provided by PBS. The potential for ad hoc networks is an interesting offspring of the satellite system, and the concept represents better than anything else the true flexibility the interconnection will allow. Any station can become a distributor, and any group of stations, a network.

The degree to which this activity occurs will depend largely on the services offered by ongoing networks, but as long as a void exists, or a program opportunity surfaces which is not exploited by existing program services, a network may be formed to take proper advantage. A good example of such an opportunity was the Houston Women’s Conference. An NBC pool feed was available, a patchwork network was conceived, and KCET had its own live coverage. Of the satellite system had been fully operational, other stations could have joined in, or PBS could have offered the service. Nonetheless, the idea was there, and a station’s initiative made it work. When the satellite system is fully operational, that kind of activity should be a piece of cake.

The Houston Women’s Conference is but one example. Urban areas may wish to do a series on urban problems.

Coal-producing states may have wished to “coalesce” for coverage of the UMW strike. For that matter, a passel of totally different stations may wish to band together out of their own unique perversity to use a program they alone like. The variations are endless, the opportunities unimagined.

Taken together, the potential for new services from PBS and the regional networks and the ability of stations to form ad hoc networks will create a wide variety of options for each station. Some would say this will fractionalize the system, but as long as stations can use these options to build better schedules leading to stronger community support, the system as a whole will gain. National programs, though they may be obtained from varied sources, will not die because the efficiencies of a nationwide effort will continue to hold true.

Why Not the Most

In assembling its satellite Interconnection public television has acquired a point-to-multipoint distribution system with virtually unlimited capacity. (Though CPB has contracted for four transponders on Westar 1, also available will be additional space on the same satellite, on other satellites presently in space, and on more advanced satellites now on the drawing boards.) Unfortunately, this extensive networking system is funneled to a comparatively miniscule outlet: the single-channel broadcast station. This need not be the case. The local capability to deliver programs could be expanded to more efficiently provide the viewer with the diverse services PTV can best offer. Public television presently offers its programming in a linear schedule. The viewer is likely to find a children’s program followed by a public affairs program followed by a performance program three extremely different program types attracting three different audiences offered sequentially.

Speculating into the communications future, many theorists feel that a plethora of television outlets will develop, either through cable (or fiber optics) improved spectrum management (UHF, VHF drop-ins), or by other technological means (signal multiplexing). In relation to programming strategy, this might mean that “the future of television is radio,” in the words of PBS vice president for programming Sam Holt. What he implies is that as the number of television outlets expands, their programming could become increasingly thematic, as is radio programming today. One station could be strictly public affairs, another could be entertainment, and so on. Unlike commercial radio, one presumes the thematic outlets of public television would be used to provide a much wider range of service.

Such thinking makes local delivery expansion an increasingly attractive notion, With a multichannel satellite interconnection as the foundation, it appears all the more workable. Coverage of Congressional hearings, which normally would preempt the regular schedule, could instead supplement it on a separate channel. The growing need for continuing professional education and the rising interest in college credit courses for adults could more efficiently be served. If such a sophisticated delivery system were in place, there is every reason to believe the range of uses would continue to develop beyond any present-day expectations.

If this seems an interesting way to proceed, how, in reality, can the concept be brought to fruition?

Additional broadcast frequencies are no doubt the most attractive option, With their comprehensive reach, one has no great concern that the targeted viewer will not have access to the targeted program. Though broadcast frequencies have long been a scarce resource exaggerated by the second-class nature of UHF, recent technological advances paint a rosier picture. The gap between UHF and VHF will, in due course, be closed by the continued improvements in UHF transmission and reception. Also, new VHF licenses might become available as a result of spectrum efficient “drop-ins” if proposed once again to a seemingly more amenable FCC.

But the most exciting developments come from the labs of Westinghouse, Texas Instruments, and others where innovations are being explored which could double the number of transmissible signals. Another option might be microwave systems like ITFS and MDS which are excellent for serving concentrated audiences such as those in school (as many stations do now). They also have been used extensively to make the link with head-ends of cable systems. At KPBS in San Diego ITFS is being explored for use in reaching other target audiences such as retirement communities, and its use is being considered for the delivery of educational materials to the local Navy base.

The next and perhaps the best option is a local cable system. Cable is an extremely attractive delivery mechanism in that it offers a multiplicity of channels far greater than any other means. However, cable does have its deficiencies. Due to extremely high capital costs, it does not now exist in most parts of the country, and where it does, its reach is far from universal. The wired nation remains but a concept, not reality. According to recent Nielsen figures, only 16 percent of television homes are cable subscribers. But this number is growing, slowly but surely. And some would say the outlook appears better than ever. Certainly, the sheer massiveness of the capital cost involved will continue to stunt cable’s progress, but the steadily improving technology of fiber optics and the inevitability of AT&T line replacement could, in due course, bring cable or “glass” into every American home. In many ways the slowness of cable development could be considered to the advantage of public broadcasting. Struggling cable systems searching for new members may be more eager to strike agreements for channel use with public broadcasters, especially if channels are vacant ( in fact, stations in Spokane, Toledo, and Los Angeles have already done so). The more services a cable system provides, the more marketable its subscriptions become. Share and share alike

In the last several years, universities, medical institutions, professional associations, and other nonprofit institutions have become more aware of the efficiency of satellite communications. Taking part in NASA demonstration projects using the CTS and ATS Satellites, they have learned that satellites are an attractive means of providing unique educational and medical services to remote areas; they have discovered that it can be a more efficient professions, and they have seen its potential for method of offering in-service training to a variety of reducing the costs of communications needs such as high-speed data transmission. The interest in such applications has not escaped the public broadcasting community. It is clearly understood that the public television satellite system, and later the public radio system is well, are profoundly sophisticated instruments of communication whose capabilities reach far beyond the applications required to satisfy public broadcasting’s needs.

Each licensee-owned receive-only terminal is capable of receiving the full complement of signals sent by the satellite to which it is pointed. Presently each station’s receive terminal is equipped to receive only two channels simultaneously, though more receivers could be added at a cost of roughly $8.000-$10,000 a piece), allowing additional Westar i transponders to be accessed. A satellite transponder, in simple terms, can be used to transmit one television signal or thousands of voice messages or millions of data bits. Whereas the transponders leased by public television and radio are reserved for those needs, other transponders on Westar I could be put to use for different purposes. This is essentially what proponents of shared use have in mind to use public broadcasting’s ground environment for access to satellite time for their own purposes. Since it is highly unlikely that a terminal’s capabilities would be fully used by public broadcasters for their own purposes, the idea of sharing the capabilities is exceedingly appealing.

The potential of our ground facilities for other uses is limited by the receive-only nature of most terminals. They can be used only as the receiving end of a one-way point to multipoint arrangement. Nonetheless, applications and interested users abound, and they are not limited to nonprofit, noncommercial entities. Western Union has expressed serious intentions to pursue a sharing arrangement with public broadcasting to serve its commercial customers. The large complement of receiving terminals in public broadcasting hands total many more than Western Union itself owns. If FCC approval for commercial sharing were granted, Western Union would have access to new customers, and public broadcasting would have a new source of income. However, the Commission’s approval of commercial sharing is a very controversial issue. Reasoning that the restricted use by a commercial entity of a publicly financed system is unfair,

Western Union competitors will cry foul. Public interest groups will argue that if the system is to be shared, benefits should be shared with non profit entities. Western Union was to have filed its application last fall. It has yet to make a move. One would suspect it feels the odds are not in its favor, at least not right. However, on the noncommercial side, advances continue to be made. The Public Service Satellite Consortium, a San Diego-based organization representing numerous nonprofit Institutions, was formed in 1975 to research and facilitate public service satellite utilization. It is presently seeking out high-probability satellite users in order to establish much-needed demonstration projects using public broadcasting’s system. PSSC, which is headed by two former public broadcasters, John Witherspoon and Bob Mott, makes clear that it has no interest in using the four transponders leased for public television; it only seeks to make appropriate use of public broadcasting’s underutilized ground facilities. It is not a blue-sky concept to foresee medical personnel assembling at public television stations — or at facilities nearby to obtain the in-service training necessary to keep up with their professions. Not only is it an idea whose time has come; it is one which could have financial benefit for all involved. The concept will be realized when the system assembles the necessary management process to bring together interested stations and interested users. In this regard, PSSC is making a substantial effort, but system support is needed.

Once shared-use demonstration projects are in place, the system will be in a better position to decide whether the concept of public telecommunications centers can work. Since telecommunications implies two-way capability, it would be fair to say that public television’s satellite system is not fully adequate to service all telecommunications needs. Besides lacking two-way capability, the system may not have receive terminals in all areas needed. It is highly probable that future satellites will be of higher power, requiring smaller, less expensive receive/transmit terminals. This improved technology will be still more flexible and may better serve telecommunications needs If this should be the case, public broadcasting may not wish to ignore opportunities in this area. Westar was born of the first generation of communications satellites and will not live forever. As the technology changes, public broadcasting might well follow.

And now what.

It’s a foregone conclusion that the medium of television will change rapidly and dramatically over the next twenty-five years.

A video about broadcast teletext in 1980 and a flipbook of Now! The Internet before there was one.

The pioneering practices of Ted Turner are only the first shots of the revolution. Knocking at the door is the predicted interface on a massive scale of television, voice communications, and information systems. New technologies are bursting on the scene more quickly than they can be put to use.

It’s exciting that in the midst of all this change public broadcasting is not being left behind. If anything, the move into satellite networking has put the system at the forefront. As always, to keep pace with continued change, planning and coordination are needed. But with its head start. public broadcasting can develop its role not only in response to stated public needs, but in response to these many new opportunities for the provision of innovative public services.

The Public Television Satellite System: Turning Point Or High Anxiety?

Public Telecommunications Review
May-June 1978.

Richard Gingras is coordinator of program planning and research at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Before that he worked in similar capacities at the Public Broadcasting Service.

Introduction and appended observations, 2021–22

Richard Gingras is Vice President, News at Google. In that role Gingras focuses on how Google surfaces news on Google’s consumer services and how Google can enable a diverse and innovative press on the open Web. He also guides Google’s effort to enable a healthy, open ecosystem for quality journalism including the Google News Initiative, Google’s global investment in efforts to elevate quality journalism, explore new models for sustainability, and provide technology to stimulate cost-efficiency in newsrooms.

Gingras has walked the bleeding edge from satellite networks to search engines, from Apple to Google. He readily concedes he’s made more mistakes than you.