PBS’ To the Contrary with Bonnie Erbe’ is the only woman-owned news analysis program on national and international TV. The program brings thoughtful, intelligent analysis to a multi-platform audience (TV, WiFi, Web, Twitter) and covers issues not covered in depth by any other show on TV. The program’s purview is all issues affecting women, families, communities of color and the LGBT community. To the Contrary is a refuge from the high-decibel arguments on cable news as well as from the very slow discussions one normally sees on public television. Our panelists are heads of national women’s groups, members of Congress and well-known journalists. They are extremely well-informed and passionate about their issues.
During March & April of 2012 we devoted much time to the Republican War on Women (especially low-income women & women of color) and the need to elect more women to public office. Other issues we’ve covered include but are not limited to: LGBT equality, access to health care for under-served communities, women in politics, America’s trend toward majority-minority, paid parental leave, ending violence against women including ending sex and domestic labor trafficking, and the list goes on and on.
The program has just completed its 20th season on PBS and airs in 91 percent of US TV markets on PBS stations, as well as in seventy-five countries overseas on VOA TV. The show is balanced politically as well as racially and has, since its inception, booked at least two panelists of color (out of four) if not more, on each show.
We are extremely proud of our record of giving women a national platform for expressing diverse views on serious public policy issues. We, for example, were the first to put on national TV such women as Shelby Knox, Patricia Sosa, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michelle Bernard, Susan Au Allen, Avis Jones-DeWeever (now President of the National Council of Negro Women) and Gwen Ifill (who was in one of our PBS pilots, years before she landed her first TV job at NBC News.)
We have received e-mails from girls telling us we inspired them to pursue careers in medicine, engineering and finance. We are proud, too, of our record of covering women’s issues way ahead of other mainstream media outlets. We produced coverage a decade-and-a-half ago of women in philanthropy. We were the first to report that women controlled more than half the wealth in the United States. TIME Magazine wrote a story about our finding. In social media, our Twitter feed has been rated “Influential” (top .5%) by Topsy.
The show has won every conceivable broadcast journalism award given for the types of stories we cover. We have won multiple Gracie (from the Alliance for Women in Media) and Women in Communications, as well as EMMA awards (those from the National Women’s Political Caucus.) We won an honorable mention from GLAAD for a series we produced on Lesbians in Ministry. We won the Outstanding Media Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for coverage of de-stigmatizing mental illness. We won the Conference Board Award for coverage of the work-life juggle on To the Contrary and in an hour-long PBS documentary we produced on that topic. And the list goes on. Please visit our website where show videos are now streamed online. Donations may be tied to any topics affecting underserved women. We appreciate you time for reading this entry.
Background on Host and Creator Bonnie Erbé:
Bonnie Erbé started work on To the Contrary in 1988 when she was a journalist and commentator covering the 1988 elections. She was a guest on NBC, CBS and CNN and became well aware of the dearth of serious coverage of issues affecting women, low-income Americans, diverse groups and the LGBT community. She worked for four years getting the program on the air and it launched on PBS in 1992, the so-called Year of the Woman in American politics. That was the year the number of women in the US Senate rose to 5 from 2.
Ms. Erbé is dismayed by the fact women have made little progress in national office in the intervening 20 years. Yes, there are now 17 women in the US Senate. But the fact women are 17% of the Senate and about the same percentage of US House members is a badge of shame for this country, not a badge of honor.
Ms. Erbé earned a B.A. from Barnard College, an MSJ from Columbia University School of Journalism and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School. She worked for several local TV stations and then NBC News as a national correspondent.