The Open Mind – A Thoughtful Excursion Into the World of Ideas

The Open Mind, hosted weekly by Alexander Heffner, is a thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, the arts and all realms of civic life. The Washington Post calls the weekly half-hour broadcast “[a] radical approach to TV talk in a troubled time.”  In particular, its objective is the restoration of truth, justice, and democratic values to public life...confronting the threats of authoritarianism, bigotry, and dis/misinformation and considering constructive ways forward.

“Public television has always provided a space for civil discussion and exploration of new ideas. Perhaps no program has exemplified this for as long as The Open Mind. For six decades, The Open Mind has provided a place for timely conversations about some of the most important topics facing our country and our world. This legacy continues under the leadership of Alexander Heffner, at a time when our country will greatly benefit from thoughtful, respectful conversations about our future.”

– Paula Kerger, CEO, PBS


Free press and Democracy


Science and Technology


the host

Alexander Heffner Headshot

Alexander is host of The Open Mind on PBS. He has covered American politics, civic life and Millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign. His work has been profiled in The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Des Moines RegisterChristian Science Monitor, VarietyMedium, and on NBC NewsMSNBCC-SPANNPRCNN and the BBC, among other media outlets.

His writing has appeared in TIME, USA TODAY, WIRED, ReutersRealClearPolitics, NYT's Room for DebateThe Daily Beast, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications. He is coauthor of A Documentary History of the United States (Penguin, 2018)

He is recipient of the University of Denver’s Anvil of Freedom Award, Franklin Pierce University’s Fitzwater Medallion for Leadership in Public Communication and Yale University’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

He has lectured at the NewseumNational Constitution CenterMuseum of American FinanceFDR Library and MuseumPost-Truth Initiative at University of Sydney, Center for Information and Bubble Studies at University of Copenhagen, Institute of Applied Politics at University of Akron, Center for Telecommunication and Law at Michigan State, Clemson, Sewanee, Carroll and Skidmore College, among other institutions of learning.

He was political director for WHRB 95.3 FM and host of The Political Arena. A native New Yorker, he is a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and Harvard.


The Open Mind is a refreshing change from typical TV fare, and no wonder. Its host, Alexander Heffner, has taken his grandfather's ground-breaking program and made it just the right fit for today's audience, keeping ideas at the forefront, and with the probing, skeptical, yet confident approach of a millennial. Conversation that makes us think.”

Judy Woodruff, Host, PBS NewsHour

“Alexander Heffner is that rare host who not only listens carefully but also thinks for himself. Heffner led our conversation into unexpected areas and made me think about the topic in new ways. He and his show are gems.”

Bill Deresiewicz, Critic

“One hidden pleasure with The Open Mind is that it has introduced me to people that I’ve never read nor have heard speak. Newton Minow and Astra Taylor are two great examples of the show’s brilliance. Here are two people, decades and decades apart in age, but both with wonderful insights and observations…never knowing of either before I had watched and listened to each episode.”


“I very much appreciate having The Open Mind available to my students to demonstrate the high quality, relevance and integrity of what great media can still be.”

Ernest Wilson, Dean Emeritus, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

“Alexander Heffner is a savvy, witty, knowledgeable host bringing meaty conversation to the screen. A rare find in this day and age.”

Danielle Allen, Executive Director, Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University

“I have viewed The Open Mind since 1956, and it continues to be appointment TV.”


The Open Mind has fed my intellectual curiosity and opened up access to discourse and personalities I never would have known.”