Mar 21, 2011

Many different takes on the fight over public radio funding

After last week's House vote on federal funding for public radio, the debate continued to rage on op-ed pages and blogs. Here's a sampling from pubcasting veterans and other observers with special insights:

William Drummond, a founding editor of Morning Edition who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley's J-School, remakes his case for policymakers to forcibly "wean public broadcasting off the federal dole." [Drummond mentions his 1993 commentary in Current.]

Fox News pundit and former NPR news analyst Juan Williams agrees that pubcasting should lose its federal aid, but for different reasons. In today's edition of The Hill he writes of "the culture of elitism that has corroded NPR’s leadership."

Native Public Media's Loris Ann Taylor outlines what federal funding means to the 39 Native-owned stations broadcasting to "vast stretches of tribal lands" unserved by any other media. "Politicians are quick and generous when it comes to paying platitudes to rural America," Taylor writes on the New America Foundation's blog. With sweeping statements that "[roll] together any community outside the suburbs into some great, sepia-tone mass of byways and farmland," lawmakers leave out any practical understanding of how their policy decisions affect real people. "The actual concerns of those in rural communities are often neglected; those in tribal lands are often ignored."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank contrasts the phoniness of House Republicans' "emergency" legislation to defund public radio with the Democrats' "trivial pursuit" of a bill to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by year's end. "The lack of grown-up behavior" by political leaders "is driving Americans to despair, " he reports. "In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 26 percent said that they were optimistic about the future when 'thinking about our system of government and how well it works.' That’s less than half the level of optimism felt in 1974, during Watergate."

Meanwhile, both Stephen Hill of Hearts of Space and Mike Henry of Paragon Media Strategies have laid out separate proposals for reforming public broadcasting.

Jessica Clark of American University's Center for Social Media surveyed coverage of the public media funding fight last week and posted this comprehensive round-up of links.

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