Could PBS downward spiral be the future of Independent news outlets?
PBS has been around along time, nearly 4 decades and at its birth the public broadcasting network was intended to provide a diverse look into America. On tompaine.com, an article quotes the orignial founders of PBS & what the purpose of it was: to enhance citizenship and public service, not to sell products. It would be a system free of commerical constraints that would serve as a ‘forum for debate and controversy,’ providing a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise go unheard,’ so that we could see America whole, in all its diversity.’ The article continues to go & rip apart the failure of the broadcasting network that fell incredibly short of its intended purpose. A 2006 FAIR investigation to a look at just how “diverse” & “balanced” & true PBS was to its claims. The results were pretty disheartening & a little distributing for the the world of journalism. The results were as follows:
–public interest groups accounted for only 4% of total sources, male sources outnumbered women by more than 4-1, people of color made up only 15% of U.S sources, Republicans outnumbered Democrats 2-, during the Iraq War coverage sources in favor of war outnumbered pro-withdrawal sources 5-1
And the list continued.
That coverage & that make up of a news outlet seems to be horrifyingly similar to mainstream media’s make-up. And PBS’ purpose at its birth was not to not be the mainstream, it was to provide balanced, fair, accurate, in depth & unbiased coverage of important political and social issues across the world and the nation. This description sounds pretty similar to a number of current indy media outlets. The largest one coming to my head right now is Democracy Now! Starting as a radio channel, the outlet was to provide the voice to the voiceless & give the American public the news coverage they deserve, free from corporate corruption, commercial ties and biased, insufficient coverage of key issues. Operating free from corporate or governmental ties, Democracy Now was one of the only outlets to get the Iraq War right…don’t invade- it’s not going to work. What did we do? And what did mainstream report? INVADE. SUCCESS…..well nearly a decade later that clearly is not the case.
These Indy media outlets, like Democracy Now, are incredibly vital and essential to the functioning of American society. Mainstream media has fallen into a terrible downward spiral of corporate corruption, greed, lazy reporting, lack of investigation, worthless question-asking and incredible bias. And frankly, I’m becoming progressively disgusted with the lack of professional reporting. I watch CNN nearly every morning (which I’m beginning to believe might need to change) and the lack of reporting on essential political issues is awful. The bulk of the reporting in the morning broadcast has become substance-lacking stories- I am not saying that they are interesting, but there are much more pressing issues at hand across the nation & the world that need more reporting than the story on brave grandmother that landed a plane when her husband had a heart attack. Sure, that’s touching & it probably does deserve a segment on the show, but when it’s length is exceeding the length of the coverage on the violence in the MIddle East, that’s no good.
No that I’ve ranted- I’m serious- PBS’ shocking failure, could potentially be a foreshadow of indy outlets’ futures. (I desperately hope not), but unfortunately history has a mean way of repeating itself & for some reason American’s and their ignorance seem to fall victim to the repeating every time, never learning from the past. PBS was set-up much like indy media outlets set themselves up now & as I have blogged before, I hope that greed does not seep into their existence and blind them to their original purpose. News shouldn’t be profit driven or influenced and sadly it is- because as reality shows it & as everyone knows it, people have to eat & a paycheck puts food on the table, clothes on your back & a roof over your head. I understand that, but as journalism student I firmly believe that the duty of journalists is to accurately, timely and objectively serve the public with fair and diverse coverage of the news- they are the watch dogs & the only people with any real ability to provide a voice that can uphold the values of a true, untainted democracy. (I get that, that was incredibly cliche & probably what you’ll learn in an Introduction to Journalism class, but it is the truth).