The Case for Public Radio

I have a confession to make.

I love NPR. I religiously listen to NPR podcasts. I start my mornings with their daily podcast, "Up First", and catch up on politics each Tuesday and Thursday with NPR political editor, Domenico Montanaro during the NPR Politics podcast.

As a self-proclaimed independent media junkie, I almost feel slightly embarrassed to admit this. But why? Across Europe and the U.K., public media networks are powerhouses of government-funded media. However, in America, public broadcasting and radio is concerningly underfunded.

According to Common Dreams' post "Public Broadcasters Relying More and More on Public Funding", Jeff Cohen shares that just $3.75 of tax money per person goes towards funding public broadcasting, whereas, in the U.K., $90 in tax money per person goes towards funding.

Both NPR (public radio) and PBS (public broadcasting) receive funding through an avenue of tax money called the "Corporation for Public Broadcasting". In 2014, the budget was roughy $450 million, which pales in comparision to the funds that other international public broadcasting networks receive. Furthermore, public radio seems to be even less adequately funded than U.S. public television, which receives about 3/4 of the total money. On the other hand, public radio only receives 1/4.

As this chart I took from NPR's "Public Radio Finances" page shows, NPR relies heavily on contributions from listeners. Yet, the second largest fiancial contributers are corporations. Public radio should not take funds from corporations, which is a clear conflict of interest for any media outlet. The government should be providing adequate funding to public broadcasting and radio, and in my opinion, corporations should not even be allowed to donate to public broadcasting or radio. Public radio and television should be well-funded in this country without corporate money. But that isn't the case.

While I enjoy getting news from NPR, I'm not blind to their faults. I listen to NPR as just one of the media outlets I enjoy, amongst many seperate independent outlets. Without a diverse media diet, I would not be able to have a well-rounded view of current events and the news. If I only listened to NPR, I wouldn't be fully informed, which I think is wrong.

As tax-funded public broadcasting, NPR (not to mention PBS) should be providing citizens with a one-stop shop for well-rounded news coverage. But with the little government funding public broadcasting and radio is alotted in the U.S., that is just not possible.


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