News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Freedom for NPR?

The latest episode at National Public Radio in which an act of fraud resulted in the firings of two Schillers is a further indication of the intellectual insufficiency which has the U.S. in its paralytic grip.  It also demonstrates what a danger a genuine, professional journalism organization is to  the conservative movement in America.  

That a video tape recording an act of fraud is given such importance is another example of the adolescent level of American politics.The man whose career has been destroyed by the tape, Ron Schiller, headed the fund-raising division of NPR and had no role whatever in the news operation.  What is most telling about the state of American politics and the corporate media which covers it is what is cited as transgressions in Schiller's conversation with the phony Islams on the tape.


Schiller said that the Tea Party movement was racist.  Despite the attempts of latter-day Tea Party sympathizers to deny racism in the movement, its front lines and projected message in its early days were laden with n-word images and synonyms and stereotypes.  The racial denigrations were well documented and cannot be dismissed.  Schiller's observations may be offensive to those who are trying to habilitate the Tea Partiers into respectability, but they do reflect some undeniable facts on record about what has driven the movement.

Schiller's bosses were particularly upset when he commented that NPR would be better if it did not receive federal funds.  NPR is one of the few professional, fact-based news organizations operating in the U.S.  The conservative petulance and claims that it has a liberal bias result in constant threats to withhold federal funds.  These attempts to instill a conservative bias into the organization interfere with its professional status and credibility.  Most journalists agree that if NPR is to maintain its status as a truly professional, credible news organization, it would be best cut free from its position as a political target. 

The problem with freeing NPR from federal funds is in preventing it from being turned into the kind of corporate organization that most of the private media are.  NPR has set a standard that influences all journalism.  Part of what maintains that standard is its role as a public medium which upholds accuracy, thoroughness, and fairness as journalistic virtues.  Its government connection makes it less vulnerable to the vagaries of executive presumption that set the tone of privately owned media.

However, there are organizational options that can keep NPR from falling into that abyss.  In the meantime, people who think it important to have real journalism being practiced somewhere may have to donate money to replace the federal funds. 



3 comments:

caheidelberger said...

So how come pranksters can get NPR chiefs fired, but Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker can pretty much admit to being in cahoots with wealthy oil barons and not face impeachment?

larry kurtz said...

Typing with my "choir" t-shirt on and 46 stations in my iTunes folder.

David Newquist said...

Cory,

It has everything to do with a fascist mindset that thinks the most absurd pranks have a moral value along with a progressive reticence out of fear of being charged with the kind of name-calling and bigoted self-righteous that characterizes the right wing these days.

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