Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Rural NPR affiliates under attack in wake of Juan Williams' firing

In the weeks since National Public Radio fired Juan Williams over remarks he made on Fox News about sometimes feeling afraid of Muslims on airplanes, there has been no shortage of criticism for NPR. Rural America has made its way into the controversy after the conservative National Review argued Congress should cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting so NPR could no longer broadcast its "coastal liberalism" to middle America. "NPR is sort of like Amtrak: Self-sufficient in urban areas where it has lots of listeners but dependent on taxpayer subsidies to broadcast its programming nationwide," the National Review writes. (Read more)

That argument rings hollow for Matthew Schmitz of First Thoughts. "When just a few years ago I worked in the summers as an apprentice electrician I would tune in [to NPR] every day at four o’clock for a stream of remarkably calm, far-ranging reporting would carry me to the end of the work day," Schmitz, who is from Ogallalla, Neb., writes. "In a media environment that often blurs the line between information and provocation, article and advert, public radio provided a welcome respite." Schmitz notes he isn't sure if NPR's virtues are conservative, but many of his Ogallalla neighbors who listened to it were.

"Rural Americans are no more susceptible to being buffaloed by liberal bias than their suburban or urban counterparts," Schmitz writes. "National Review’s editorial assumes that NPR represents 'coastal liberalism' disconnected from middle America." That strategy has been used since Richard Nixon called for a "return to localism," Schmitz writes, but concludes that argument "misses just how connected to local communities public radio really is. NPR’s affiliates stretch their shoestring budgets in order to report on state and local issues while producing their own cultural programming."

If the National Review were to get its wish, rural NPR stations would rely solely on subscriptions to operate.While some proposals for making NPR financially independent are promising, that isn't one, Schmitz argues. He concludes, "To insist that rural stations rely solely on the subscription model that barely supports urban ones would effectively end public radio in rural America and, in turn, diminish the vitality and voice of its communities." (Read more)

1 comment:

Brian F said...

It's all part of the conservative strategy to suffocate the media from any diversity. If it doesn't have a conservative bias, then, by their definition, has a liberal bias. It's been a successful strategy so far but it must be resisted at all costs.