Note: What follows is a comment from "TW," for which I received an email notice, but which does not appear--at least it does not appear for me--in the post it is supposed to be attached to. I am looking into this problem. But it's a thoughtful comment and I am reproducing it here as a guest post. I'm not personally convinced by TW's argument against funding PBS and NPR, but I also think TW makes many good points.
Disclosures first…I am a registered voter, but not registered with any political party. I trend fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
1. Is the programming on PBS / NPR worthwhile and valuable? Absolutely.
2. Does story selection and commentary lean to the Left? Probably a bit.
3. Does the public ‘trust’ the content coming from PBS / NPR more so than other sources? Maybe.
Yet none of the above elicits my support for continued government / public funding for PBS / NPR.
1. Worthwhile and valuable programming is available from a multitude of commercially successful media outlets (The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, The Food Network, The Learning Channel, etc), and via the Internet. All of these venues have proven that the American public will support quality programming – as evidenced by their continued operation in spite of the fact that part of their ‘competition’ (PBS) is federally subsidized. Given the quality of the content produced by PBS / NPR, why wouldn’t they continue to be successful with a model that uses commercial (i.e. advertising) support alone?
2. It seems to me that the percentage of programming on PBS that is ‘political’ is relatively small, with the majority being educational, arts, culture, etc. NPR, by its nature spends more of its broadcasting day discussing political issues and news topics of the day. Of course this breakdown is purely my perception, and my exposure to any ‘radio’ is limited to time spent driving. Still, PBS and NPR have existed for several decades, through both Republican and Democrat administrations. All media probably leans in one direction or the other, some of course more obviously then others. That is why it is important to watch / listen to multiple sources to best gain an understanding of the ‘real’ picture.
3. A poll on the PBS website under the ‘About Us’ link lists PBS as “#1 in public trust”. I had gone to this section to look for the Mission and Vision statements. Quite frankly, the fact that someone stands up and points outs how trustworthy they are usually sends up a huge red flag and immediately invites suspicion. How ‘trust’ is measured can be a subject for another debate entirely. Again, for me the best bet is to get information from multiple sources - the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
I believe that when lawmakers created the CPB / PBS / NPR, their intent was to ensure that quality programming was available to the people in a time when television was only in its infancy (or perhaps toddlerhood). Perhaps the fear was that commercial television of the day would neglect the areas of art and education because they wouldn’t be profitable. We know now, that is not the case. Should all government entities remain in perpetuity because their original premise was good, or shouldn’t we revisit things from time to time and ask questions such as; is the mission still valid, has it been achieved, is it still necessary?
Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.
In addition to comments, I'd love to have guest posts. Please send ideas or full-blown posts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.