Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Support Public Radio

Because it’s pledge week on WYSU, we’re not running Lincoln Avenue this week. If you miss it, show your support by making a pledge and tell the person who answers your call how much you like Lincoln Avenue!

Here’s why I believe in supporting public radio: it’s the closest thing we have to a truly free press in the U.S. Most other widely accessible, professional media outlets are business enterprises, so their fundamental purpose is to make money for the corporations that own them and the investors in those corporations. Even with the best of journalistic intentions, reporters, editors, commentators, and staff will be influenced and sometimes directly guided by the business interests of their owners. That might not mean giving a specific slant on a particular story, but it does affect the mix of stories available, because it’s all about numbers. To operate, the media relies on ads, and to sell ads, they need to attract viewers, so at least some of their editorial decisions will be focused on how to get more people to watch.

Now public radio also has to worry about numbers, but we do it without a profit motive. While NPR and WYSU locally rely on contributions and underwriting from business, a significant portion of our funding comes directly from the people who listen. In some ways, that increases the pressure to serve and engage the public. On the other hand, that gives us the freedom to tell stories and cover issues that might not be popular.

I’ve tried to do that on Lincoln Avenue – to bring in a variety of guests and perspectives, to question some of the conventional wisdom in the local community, to make people think. Thanks for supporting this program, and I hope you’ll extend your support to WYSU.

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