Posted by: carebear | October 24, 2011

Is the answer right under our nose?

In Robert McChesney’s book, The Political Economy of Media, he discusses the “need to have a sector producing journalism walled off from corporate and commercial pressures.”  Hmm…Public Broadcasting?
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Form 990 filling for the fiscal year ending in June of 2010, they had over 1.5 million listeners each week, 117,000 contributors and almost $22 million in contributions and grants.  With a rough estimate of 60% of their funding coming from viewers/listeners, that comes to about $13 million raised by people like you and me.  The remainder comes from federal funding and a small amount from sales, services and other sources.  (www.opb.org)  Every few months, the regular programming provided by our beloved reporters and radio hosts is briefly interrupted to ask for our support.  And, they continue to do this for about a week until they reach their required budget – I believe the last drive raised about $800,000. With their reliance on their audience for so much of their funding, they answer to us, right?
I feel like I get great coverage on meaningful issues from an objective point of view.  If this changed for me, I would simply stop listening and not renew my membership.  This creates a form of “ownership.”  This information is provided to it’s audience via the radio and television, so it is accessible to the majority of the U.S. population.  Sounds like McChesney’s “social production of journalism” to me.
So, if public broadcasting is the solution to a fair, honest, comprehensive form of journalism, is public broadcasting enough?
If journalism were to change and operate under a model like that of public broadcasting and major news stations like Fox News, CNN or MSNBC were eliminated, how would public broadcasting change?
With the hard economic times we have experienced during the recent recession, can we rely on a form of journalism funded by the public and through federal programs to always be there with the information we need?

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Responses

  1. Did you know the #1 radio station in Portland in morning drive is OPB? The audience for OPB and NPR shows the demand for insightful reporting that you can’t get elsewhere. The issue of trying to duplicate the viewer-supported model for television is cost. It’s cheap to produce radio. TV is much more expensive.

    What if the web could be used as a legitimate new channel for reporting with paid journalists? The cost of production has come way down, the web would bypass many of the expenses of cable or broadcast, and the geographic reach would be limitless.

    Could such a model be launched and supported solely by viewers and grant money?

    • More and more people are foregoing their cable bill for the internet as their source of television. With Netflix, HuLu, YouTube and even the shows provided via the network sites, you are able to access almost anything you desire. Your suggestion of the web as a ‘legitimate new channel for reporting’ seems more like the inevitable future than just a suggestion.
      And, we are seeing the beginning of an accessibility movement with Comcast providing very low cost internet services and even more affordable computer purchase options to low income individuals. If this barrier to access can be eliminated, it seems like the web replacing television is even more likely.

  2. An example of my discussion points can be found in an article published by the New York Times on Sunday regarding Democracy Now!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/business/media/a-grass-roots-newscast-gives-a-voice-to-struggles.html?src=recg


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