micronotes: On Public Broadcasting

micronotes: On Funding Public Broadcasting

Joseph Lichterman for Neiman Lab:

CPB has an annual budget of $445 million that it uses to support PBS, NPR, and local public broadcasters across the United States, and cuts to it and other agencies are being proposed to offset, among other things, Trump’s planned $54 billion increase in defense spending. (The Washington Post reported that the requested boost in Pentagon funding would fund CPB at its current levels for the next 121 years.)

New York Times and other primary news sources are putting up paywalls. For the White House: do Americans deserve free access to news, ad-supported news, or do they only deserve one to five articles per day before they have to find various methods to jump the wall and see a few more before being shut down.

With algorithmically displayed news from Facebook and other aggregators - leading to filter bubbles and fundamentally different sources of news consumption - the federal government will be further out of touch with each Americans’ understanding - and even base knowledge - of contemporary events.

Public Television programming can deepen a sense of community in local life. It should show us our community as it really is. It should be a forum for debate and controversy. It should bring into the home meetings, now generally untelevised, where major public decisions are hammered out, and occasions where people of the community express their hopes, their protests, their enthusiasms, and their will. It should provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard.

I don’t know how many people actually listen to NPR or watch PBS. With the internet as my only means of consumption, I know that Americans with similar habits are already fragmented into their bubbles. My only solace is that NPR is an attenuator - to soften the blow of the U.S. losing consolidated means for news and consequently losing an “American” view on such events. How do we even pretend to be a nation when people only know their ideological/interest groups rather than their local, state, regional or national community?

There is no possibility of discussion without a shared foundation with which to discuss.