The slow death of public broadcasting

More than half the jobs in newspaper publishing disappeared between 2001 and 2016, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s much the same story across the developed world, of course. Yet in other countries the loss of local print outlets has been partially mitigated by public broadcasting, which has helped fill the void of civic journalism left by the market.

“From Europe to Australia, the average country spent $86 per capita on public broadcasting in 2014.” America, by contrast, spent just $3. The Republicans have long taken a dim view of state funding of the media. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird,” presidential candidate Mitt Romney told an anchor of the public broadcaster PBS in a 2012 debate. “But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things that we have to borrow money from China to pay for.” This fits the Republican idea that there is no such thing as the “public good”. Everything should be private and have a price, and that way the richest get the loudest voices.

President Trump wants to eliminate the public broadcasting budget almost entirely. But there is one ray of hope in this bleak landscape. New Jersey’s legislature recently passed a bipartisan bill that will dedicate $5m to reviving and strengthening civic-minded local journalism throughout the state. It’s not much money, and so far no other states have followed New Jersey’s lead. But it’s something. (Michael J. Coren, Quartz. 22 Sept 2018)

Public BroadcSting Service) does a good job presenting the world news in a non- confrontational way, in contrast to, say, Fox News and CNN, which are partisan and only make token nods to inclusivity. The Democrats don’t have a monolithic set of policies and beliefs and have no broadcaster that represents the party view, except general opposition to the Republicans. Fox, however, seems to be the initiator and brains behind the Republican party – Trump spends many man-hours re-broadcasting their views, enhanced by exaggerations and plain misinformation. This is a crying shame. It’s legitimate to have local broadcast voices, working on behalf of both the moderate Left and Right, but Fox News is closer to propaganda and is neither moderate nor reliable. The First Amendment shouldn’t protect straight lies and misrepresentation that are devoutly believed by its ardent supporters. If you employ liars you get lies. Americans deserve better. Epicuruos disliked party politics for a good reason – it seems to bring out the worst in some human beings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.