“You will still find more hours of in-depth news programming, investigative journalism and analysis on PBS than on any other outlet.”
– Gwen Ifill
Minions, I’m stepping away from my daily dose of snark, personal injury, and tales of life as an office gopher to incite you all to violence. Or at least activism in the political process. You know, whichever comes first.
Wait! Come back! This isn’t about abortion, gay marriage, immigration, or any of those screaming match inducing topics, all of which I myself have complex opinions about that – happily – I won’t inflict on you. See? It’s perfectly safe.
No, I want to talk about the upcoming debate in Congress on whether or not they are going to pull the plug on funding public broadcasting. Which means NPR and PBS stations would not receive any federal funding whatsoever. I’m sure we’ve all rolled our eyes at the inconvenience of having our programing interrupted by biannual membership drives, but let me tell you what, even those drives don’t fully fund public broadcasting stations. My local PBS station is supported by federal funding by 25%, other stations need much more than that. Without federal funding many of these stations will not be able to support themselves, and I don’t think losing them should be an option.
I can hear you asking why I’m jumping up on this particular soapbox. Well, like I said, I’m not going to dump my political rantings on anyone (J. gets that delight), but I’m always going to fight tooth and nail for the humanities. To say nothing of the other genres of fantastic programing that PBS and NPR offer.
President Obama recently bemoaned the lack of future scientists in the US (a report I listened to on NPR, incidentally). I submit that more kids of my generation were inclined to the sciences thanks to Bill Nye the Science Guy than the average elementary school science teacher. And what about programs like Nova and Nature for practical biology, geology, geography, and conservation – and photography and cinematography come to think of it!
My love for Masterpiece Classic, Mystery, and Contemporary are already well documented but just so we’re clear, Masterpiece has showcased the work of some of the greatest artists who ever lived, be they actors, playwrights, or novelists. Often to viewers who would never have been exposed to these works otherwise. I grew up in a house that loved the humanities and wasn’t short of opportunities to take advantage of them, but I saw my first opera, symphony performance, and ballet on PBS, and have many friends who have never seen these sorts of performances except on PBS due to lack of opportunity.
And as for children’s programing! Hands up anyone who has never, in their entire life, seen an episode or even a video clip from Sesame Street? Not many of you. What about Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood? The Magic Schoolbus? Reading Rainbow? Programs that supplement early childhood education and engage developing cognitive skills and should not be thrown aside.
Now on to NPR which preserves the radio show tradition with A Prairie Home Companion and Selected Shorts, to say nothing of phenomenal journalism which provides a nice supplement to either CNN or FOX when you want to form a more thorough opinion.
I don’t think anyone denies that we need to find ways to trim the federal budget and that sacrifices will need to be made. But I also believe there are dozens if not hundreds of other initiatives, earmarks, pet projects, and other all around badly spent monies that could be cut before funding to the National Endowment for the Arts! Public broadcasting is not a great money maker, it doesn’t produce thousands of manufacturing jobs, it doesn’t impact our competition with China…
But it is important.
Please check your local PBS and NPR websites for contact information for your representatives in Congress, and make your voice heard.