Robert McChesney on federal support for public broadcasting

March 7, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

The co-founder of Free Press, Robert McChesney, discussed U.S. support for public broadcasting with Amy Goodman on today’s episode of Democracy Now. The episode begins with Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that Al Jazeera and other foreign news sources are offering real news–useful information–unlike America’s corporate news.  Here’s an excerpt of Clinton’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Wednesday:

Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news, which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.

Robert McChesney agreed with Ms. Clinton’s disparagement of America’s new media.  He disagrees with her proposal for addressing this serious problem.  Clinton is proposing to increase funding for America’s foreign media operations.  According to McChesney, we should scrap the plan to increase international propaganda and, instead, provide better support for America’s domestic public media.

The current federal support for Public Broadcasting and support for community broadcast stations, is $420 million.   This amounts to one one−hundredth of one percent of the total federal budget, (i.e., that is one ten-thousandth of the federal spending for 2010) and this only about half the amount ($750 million) that the federal government pays to support various international broadcasts (Voice of America and other international media operations).

McChesney recommends that we combine these monies into a single first-rate public-supported media that will treat the United States just like it treats other countries.   It should be a network with no double-standard and no blatant propaganda (BTW, I recently noticed that American media outlets call opponents of a government “rebels” when it approves of them but  “insurgents” when it doesn’t).  McChesney proposes that this new government-funded public media should produce the type of information that other countries trust to such an extent that they will value it and rely on it; we should thus make this new public-funded entity’s news freely available to the rest of the world.   Wouldn’t that be a fundamental change?  I certainly haven’t seen any indication that the world flocks to see the jingoistic arguing-head-pundit  “news” that our electronic currently specializes in producing.

Robert McChesney (Wikimedia Commons)

McChesney reminded Amy Goodman’s audience that those concerned with media reform should consider attending the upcoming National Conference for Media Reform, April 8 – 10, in Boston, Massachusetts.  I will be there; I’ve attended prior national conferences by Free Press and they present numerous critically important topics, including reform of corporate media and lots of encouragement for citizen journalists.    Admission to the entire conference is $175. Here’s what one can expect at the upcoming conference, according to McChesney:

[T]his will be the fifth National Conference for Media Reform, in Boston. I’m more excited about this one than any of the other four, because I think politically in this country right now, with what’s happening in Wisconsin, with what is happening with the battle over public media, with the battle for an open and uncensored internet, the network neutrality fight, I think this is going to be an organizers’ conference. This is going to be an activists’ conference. This is going to be a conference for people to get engaged with issues and learn how to effectively fight, because I think what we’re learning now is that on issue after issue, the vast majority of the American people support us. They care about these issues. And all they need to do is drop a match on that prairie, and we’re going to have a fire. And that’s what we’re going to be doing in April in Boston. It’s going to be an extraordinary event.


Category: Journalism, Media

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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