Good Things

Posted by Madhulika Sikka on


It will be no surprise to you that this office deals mostly with complaints people have about something they have watched on their PBS station.  And, dear reader, you will also not be surprised to hear that a lot of that mail is impolite, full of ad hominem attacks, sexist and lacking in reason.

Sometimes we like to take note of the correspondence that breaks that trend and is actually complimentary about the content on your PBS stations.

This week saw the premiere of a new show, "No Passport Required." Popular chef Marcus Samuelsson, himself an immigrant from Ethiopia and Sweden, takes you on a journey across America examining the food and culture of immigrant communities.

The show is interesting and uplifting and a real balm to the current climate where many hyphenated Americans are being made to feel lesser.  "No Passport Required" celebrates American diversity in a way that should appeal to most people – through your stomach.  And it seems to have hit the spot with many viewers.

Wilma Place, Honaunau, Hawaii, writes: 

I watched Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s new series “No Passport Required.” The first series took place in Detroit and Dearborn Michigan. I enjoyed it because it showed the food and lifestyles of the Muslims living in US cities. Thank you Chef Samuelsson for giving me a look into their lives which don’t seem too different than mine; namely we all want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for us and our families as we live in the US. I look forward to the next installment of being enlightened.

Mary Durkin, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., adds:

I just watched the first episode of Marcus Samuelsson's series. Please send a copy to Donald Trump to show the value of immigrants. This is an excellent example of the value that immigrants give to a community. Marcus is the perfect host of such a series because I have followed his story in print and TV over many years now. I am 74 yrs old and still learned a lot about the history of the immigrant population in the Detroit area. I'd heard about it, but this showed the day to day reality and the worth that an immigrant culture adds to America. I thought it was a really educational and enjoyable hour. Please send it to our ignorant President and every member of Congress. Thank you.

And the praise on social media was effusive:


Politics and Point Counterpoint

Earlier in the spring I wrote a column called Politics and Point Counterpoint.  In it, I questioned the value of having a political point/counterpoint segment particularly when the participants often agree more than they disagree. The column was prompted by the mail that this office has received about the Brooks and Shields segment and that perhaps it was time to make a change.

At the time NewsHour Executive Producer Sara Just reminded me that the segment remains one of the most popular parts of the show.  

The segment often includes a substitute when either Shields or Brooks is unavailable, but this past week’s substitute was someone who really struck a chord with many of you.

Doc Porter writes:

“PBS Newshour! A home run with Ezra Klein in Newshour Friday, July 6.  He is one of the few who can keep up (surpass??) with the mental and verbal skills of David Brooks.  I hope we see a lot more of him!”

Tim O’Connell from Aptos, Calif., concurs:

"I watch it [NewsHour] every night, but this is the first time I have submitted feedback.  It was an excellent news show as usual, but when it got to David Brooks and Ezra Klein it reached a whole new level of excellence.  Ezra Klein’s commentary was amazing.  He offered explanations of what is currently happening in our government that were clear, concise and had the ring of truth…Please find a place for Ezra Klein on the PBS Newshour on a regular basis.”

Frederick Halgedahl from Reinbeck, Iowa, is a fan too:

“Never before have I seen a more comfortable pairing between Right and Left when one of the regulars is away.  Mark Shields, a hero of mine whose warm smile, terse wit, unparalleled recall of history, and moral outrage at the right moments has clearly been compromised in the past year by a general decline in which his struggles to find the right word, or to complete a thought with the panache that was at his ready command in earlier years, might well have found a rightful heir in Mr. Klein.”

You can judge for yourself if you missed the segment.

However, I repeat my point in the earlier column, politics are not pure left and right and I would be interested in hearing from the points of view that aren’t represented in the mainstream discourse, something I think about whenever I am reminded that almost 100 million eligible voters did not vote in the last presidential election.

While this office is here to listen to the complaints and queries from the audience, it's always important to point out when the audience is positively responding to the content that they watch. 

Please continue to let us know your thoughts, positive and negative.

Posted on July 13, 2018 at 11:11 a.m. 

As public editor, Ricardo Sandoval-Palos serves as an independent internal critic within PBS. He reviews commentary and criticism from viewers and seeks to ensure that PBS upholds its own standards of editorial integrity. Read More >
Have a comment related to the journalistic integrity of PBS content? Send an E-mail to Ricardo or contact him at 703-739-5290. You can also follow the public editor on Twitter @PBSPubEd.
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