Monday, March 21, 2011

NPR: Collapsing or Right-Sizing?

If you’re saying we’re a liberal propaganda front, you’re insulting the intelligence of millions and millions of conservatives who listen to us every day. You are saying they’re stupid.
--Steve Inskeep, NPR correspondent and anchor

SWNIDish first: a positive citation of a Howard Kurtz article.

Kurtz reports lots and opines a little about the NPR kerfuffle, and the reportage is good. In sum, NPR is expanding its audience and to all accounts offers reasonably balanced news coverage. SWNID, as alert and gentle readers will remember, concurs heartily.

What's amusing about Kurtz's piece, however, is the revelation that the prospective loss of federal funds will result in a 10-15% loss of overall revenue to NPR, which Kurtz glosses as NPR's "collapse." Kurtz, as we have suspected, obviously belongs to that vast tribe of citizens who have never done a budget.

Unless NPR simply can't somehow appeal to its donor/listener base for additional cash (campaign suggestion: "put off trading your Subaru for one more year and send us what you save"), or prioritize its operations for savings on the expense side, or both, a revenue loss of that size will hardly destroy the organization. Most for-profit and not-for-profit businesses have dealt with shortfalls of this magnitude a lot recently, and we're doing fine, thank you very much.

Kurtz notes that NPR execs say that rural stations will feel the cuts most. SWNID says, why not? The Republic subsidizes a lot of rural citizens in a lot of ways, and not necessarily for the common good. Why should Uncle Sugar spend my money to make it more culturally comfortable for a retired Boston schoolteacher to live in a scenic spot in Maine or Vermont or even New Hampshire? And if North Dakota has the lowest unemployment and a rapid rate of population growth, can't its hardy citizens pony up for Click and Clack? Somehow we don't think it's the rural poor memorialized by James Agee and Walker Evans who will be hurt most. And if the lack of NPR and broadband in the hinterlands encourages some people to move closer to the bright lights, will the result not in fact be savings on greenhouse gas emissions used to drive out to their wilderness homesteads and the returning of rural land to agriculture usage or even wilderness non-usage?

Seems to us that liberals and conservatives can agree that it's a bad idea to use the public purse to make it easier for folk to live in the country.

Or maybe NPR could just start a shortwave service, like the Beeb.

1 comment:

Q said...

The church in America has done a pretty good job being separated from the State.