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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Public Broadcasting Should Not Compete with Private

A great article:
The problem I see with Robert's thinking is it puts NPR and PBS into the "marketplace of ideas," a mythological space where news competes successfully with sex, violence, drama and comedy —  the four horsemen of entertainment that have come to pass for "the right stuff" of commercial success. I use them successfully as a screenwriter, but they don't belong as a part of news.

It is a mistake to use market economics as the sole arbiter of value in public broadcasting. There is no "marketplace of ideas" — it's a marketplace of emotions, and the confusion of the two is hurting democracy as the fourth estate is forced to compete with entertainment and, quite naturally, resorts to the emotional strategies of a) comedy and b) outrage as packaging vehicles.

The purpose of news is not to tell us what we want to hear or what stimulates us or what reaffirms our views, as Hollywood already does quite successfully, but to tell us what we don't necessarily want to hear but ought to know about anyway. This is not something that is as broadly commercial, but in a democracy it is vitally important.

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