Thursday, July 20, 2006

President Bush, NPR, and the S-Word

Perhaps President Bush just misunderstood. Perhaps he thought the FCC said it was “fine for people to use the S-word” rather than “people will be fined for using the S-word.”

Either way, it wasn’t a slip of the tongue. The man is experienced in the ways of four-letter language. His use of S-word was intentional and he seems to have no regrets about it.

I’m glad NPR chose to broadcast the tape without bleeping the President. Some argue that bleeping the S-word still communicated the essence of the story. I agree with that.

More important, though, is that Americans hear our President so easily use the very words he claims to be indecent. NPR’s role here is to not only report the news, but also to create an uncensored public record of the incident.

The incident is of particular significance given that Congress just approved stiffer FCC fines for “indecency” on the airwaves. Public radio stations are worried that NPR’s decision will result in substantial fines for local stations. Some commercial broadcasters are looking at NPR’s broadcast and hoping it will become a test case for the indecency regulations.

As it stands, we are in a situation where the President’s indecent language might be worthy of a $325,000 fine, but not worthy of a public apology from the President.

That, to me, is obscene.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Minorities in Local Radio Newsrooms

A Radio Television News Directors Association/Ball State University study reports that minority representation dropped in local radio newsrooms from 7.9% to 6.4% in the past year.

Just as newsworthy is that minority representation in radio newsrooms (6.4%) is way behind television (22.2%) and the US population (33.6%).

The study also reports that women are underrepresented in radio newsrooms. Public radio stations were included in the study but not reported out separately.

Monday, July 10, 2006

New Insights on Black Consumers

Arbitron and Scarborough just released a new study on Black Consumers. There's some good news for public radio. According to Arbitron's press release,

- 30 million black persons age 12+ in the United States, or 12 percent of the U.S. population overall, black persons are more likely to be college graduates
- The population of black college graduates has grown 14 percent in the past five years

That's important since level of formal education is a key predictor of public radio listening. The study also points our that black focused media is growing in the US, which means more competition for these listeners.

The Arbitron/Scarborough Black Consumer Study 2006 is here (pdf).

A separate Arbitron report Black Radio Today 2006 can be found here (pdf).