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Issue #17: Results


1. On Our Own Terms Groundbreaking Success

2. Millions of Viewers Take Journey Into the End of Life

3. Overwhelming Media Coverage

4. Materials Requests Flowing In

5. Thousands of Viewers Make Contact

6. One Steering Committee's Broadcast Experience


The premiere broadcast of On Our Own Terms drew an enormous audience, strong viewer reactions and extensive media coverage. From the beginning, we wanted this to be more than a television event - we truly wanted this series to serve as a catalyst to raise the issue of end-of-life care with a national audience. This issue of the newsletter reports on the tremendous success of the effort. The next issue of the newsletter will have a greater focus on the sustainable results -- what steering committees and outreach associates have planned as a result of the public reaction to On Our Own Terms. Tell us what happened in your community by contacting us at


An estimated 19 million Americans tuned into On Our Own Terms. Across the board, the series had ratings 58% higher than the national PBS primetime average. We couldn't have reached so many people without the hard work of our steering committees and outreach associates. On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying, posted unusually strong public television ratings in communities across the country, reaching a 7.3 rating/13 share in San Francisco, 4.7/7 share in Milwaukee, and 5.2/10 share in Seattle. Up against the Emmys on Sunday night, ratings for the series climbed through the week for a national average rating of 3.0, and many viewers are contacting their local stations to ask about rebroadcasts.


In the days leading up to and during the broadcast, it was hard to pick up a major newspaper or magazine and not see some coverage of On Our Own Terms. Time magazine made On Our Own Terms and the discussion of better end-of-life care their cover story for the week of September 18th. Read their coverage by visiting,3266,54410,00.html

Mentions of the series were found in Newsweek, People, US. Major newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, and Orlando Sentinel also ran stories. Dr. Sherwin Nuland called the series "magisterial" in the New York Times and John Leonard said the series was "without cant or condescension, without sentimentality or self-aggrandizement." Writing in New York magazine, Leonard went on to call it "television that dignifies the medium."

Happily, mentions of the series, and most importantly better end-of-life care, did not end with the broadcast. For example, the Washington Post ran an editorial regarding On Our Own Terms and dying in their September 18th issue. The San Diego Union Tribune, when it reviewed the program, also included questions from the Discussion Guide. Now that's expanding the dialogue!


For many, the broadcast was their first opportunity to confront issues of dying. The Discussion Guide was designed to help these folks learn about the issues and discuss their wishes with loved ones. Many local efforts provided the Guides through phone numbers or local distribution efforts. To date there have been almost 3,000 requests, virtually wiping out our supply of printed discussion guides. There are still some easily copied black and white templates of the guides available and of course, the discussion guide is still downloadable at our web site:


Mail and phone calls have been pouring into the production company. In addition, the On Our Own Terms website at has seen a great deal of activity as Americans share personal stories and praise the series. Over a thousand posts on the discussion boards are a testament to the conversations that have been provoked by the series. PBS stations across the country, many of which posted local call-in numbers following the show, report callers have swamped their phone lines requesting additional information.

Make sure to take time to stop by the discussion boards and read what others have to say. Perhaps you will find some new members for your steering committees!


The End of Life Partnership of Western Pennsylvania really had a successful broadcast experience and we wanted to share with you a message detailing their efforts:

"During the Moyers Series, while organizing and hosting the phone bank at WQED, our local public television station, we averaged about 80 calls a night, with a high of 125 one night. We scheduled over 100 volunteers to answer phones including physicians, nurses, hospice specialists, attorneys, clergy, end-of-life authors, software developers, case managers, and other interested persons. WQED's efforts in supporting the Partnership were first-rate. The station displayed the Partnership's logo on air, and on Tuesday evening, interviewed our Chair, MaryAnn Fello, prior to Moyers' broadcast."

We would love to hear about your experiences during the broadcast, as well as any future plans you have for work to improve end-of-life care in your communities. Contact us at and fill us in on your plans!

A hearty thank you and a job well done to each of you! Keep up the great work.