National Public Radio, the US’s quasi-state funded radio network, has received a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to improve its news coverage. Are they going to start covering say “Fast and Furious” and help hold our leaders accountable? Are they going to start covering and exposing crony capitalism, a subject that would endear them to both Occupy Wall Street supporters and Tea Partiers? Are they going to use this money to provide more in depth coverage about foreign policy, a subject that is actually often neglected by the corporate mainstream media? You can probably guess the answer to those questions is a definite no. Instead, they’re going to do yet another series about race and ethnicity.
National Public Radio, criticized in recent years over diversity of its staff and coverage, is using a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to put together a six-person team to report stories on race, ethnicity and culture.
The national radio program producer and digital news provider was accepting the two-year grant Thursday at UNITY 2012 Convention in Las Vegas, where hundreds of minority and gay and lesbian journalists gathered for the quadrennial convention assembled by UNITY Journalists Inc.
NPR said in a news release that it is using the money to “launch a major storytelling initiative focused on the racial, ethnic, ideological and generational issues that define an increasingly diverse America.” The team will include two digital journalists, a correspondent, two reporters and an editor. The team will have a web site and blog within NPR.org.
Gary Knell, NPR CEO and president, said this team approach on race, ethnicity and culture would help “turbocharge” coverage with deeper stories that can make a difference. The grant allows NPR to invest in people who will come to work with race and ethnicity coverage as their first order of business every day, he said.
In order to correct the perception that the employee roster of NPR has about as much diversity as a membership roster of the Ku Klux Klan, NPR is going to devote a series of stories about “race and ethnicity”. Forget that CNN already does something similar (see “Black in America“, etc.) and more importantly, they do it without taxpayer funding. Plus, give the corporate mainstream media credit, race relations is one thing they generally don’t shy away from. The reason the media covers race a lot is because it’s a controversial subject and controversy brings ratings and higher ratings brings higher advertising revenue. This is “Stop Kony” white liberal guilt, except in this case American taxpayers are helping to pay for it.
Of course it’s not just about news coverage. It’s really about public relations targeted towards the minority community.
“There’s still too many people who are not really aware of public radio in this country and my hunch is many of them might be minorities who haven’t discovered public radio and who we think would be more amenable to tuning in and becoming supporters if they knew the content was more accessible and really aimed to a demographic, that speaks the issues that are of critical importance to Hispanic, African American, Asian American and Native American audiences,” Knell said.
Screw what’s actually newsworthy and even in the “public interest”, we need to get more minority listeners and donations.
This is just a taxpayer funded public relations operation. In a time of trillion dollar annual deficits, do we really need to be paying for things like this? In a free society, the United States government should not be funding, directly or indirectly, media outlets to broadcast domestically. This opens the door to creating TV and radio stations that are nothing more than propaganda outlets for the US government.
It’s time to pull the plug on so-called “public” broadcasting.