Big Bird and Beyond: The New Media and the Markle Foundation
More than 30 years ago, Lloyd Morrisett, a young foundation executive, posed this question at a dinner party: "Could the power of television be used to teach millions of pre-school children the basics of literacy?" Defying the odds in an industry that had long placed faith in selling soap rather than serving the educational needs of its audiences, Sesame Street, the most popular and successful children's program in the world was launched. Big Bird and Beyond reveals the pivotal role Morrisett has played since 1969, as president of The John and Mary R. Markle Foundation and as chairman of the Chilren's Television Workshop, in launching Peggy Charren's Action for Children's Television, rescuing the Columbia Journalism Review and the Fund for Investigative Journalism from bankruptcy, establishing the National News Council in defiance of the nation's most powerful newspaper, and spurring Cable News Network to provide more issue oriented presidential election coverage. Mitgang describes how Markle almost single-handedly promoted the idea of using computers and the Internet to enrich the lives of the elderly, and, most recently, how electronic mail might connect citizens more effectively to government and other institutions that affect their everyday lives.
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