NPR in a Bind

24 Nov

National Public Radio (NPR) almost lost all of its federal funding because the GOP is upset than Juan Williams got the boot and that the brilliant media outlet received a $1.8 million donation from a left-wing philanthropist.

I love a lot of the stuff NPR does (they’re programmed as the #3 on my car stereo), and I think they are one of the most important news organizations out there. I would hate to see them go the way of so many other journalistic efforts that have gone under lately.

However this issue has me in a bind. As a journalist (kinda), I do not think there should be any ties (especially not monetary ones!) between the media and the government they are supposed to be a watchdog for. That just reeks of “propaganda” potential. But how else are we going to save the media?

The “pay wall” route is getting messier and messier for printed news outlets trying to make their way in the digital world, and for those who say do away with the journalism industry all together, you’re off your rocker. Journalism is a necessary element to democracy, and an industry I definitely deem worthy of protection.

A factor that would help resolve my internal conflict is the full disclosure of NPR’s financial information. As it stands, NPR’s numbers are far from transparent, and therefore it is impossible to see how much money they receive from the government and what percentage of their total budget those government funds represent. Right wing analysts estimate (and undoubtedly inflate) that NPR rakes in a little over $40 million in federal funds, which is about 25% of their total budget. NPR claims that government funds only represent 3% of their budget (a little less than $5 million) but refuse to show any proof.

It may take a government oversight committee under the new-GOP House to resolve the discrepancy, but until then I will be enjoying as much WUWM as possible while I still can.

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