Sunday, October 28, 2007

When it Comes to Underwriting, Listeners Want Bias

The controversy over Duquesne University requiring WDUQ to return underwriting money from Planned Parenthood -- and Planned Parenthood's response -- has exposed an interesting, and uncomfortable, paradox.

Public radio listeners don't want bias in their news programs, but they want it in their news program supporters.

The 2007 NPR/Jacobs Media underwriting research shows that nearly two out of three listeners agree with the statement that public radio is selective about sponsoring companies.

The 2003 NPR/Jacobs Media study asked listeners to rate the appropriateness of different public radio underwriters. The Sierra Club and ACLU were among the organizations deemed appropriate by listeners. The NRA was not.

Many WDUQ listeners were outraged that Planned Parenthood's support was rejected. That outrage didn't exist in St. Louis several years ago when KWMU refused underwriting from the KKK.

Listeners don't want public radio to take money from organizations and businesses that they consider to be inconsistent their values and beliefs. That's one of the reasons audiences at live recordings of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me have been known to boo when they hear the Walmart sponsorship credit being read.

Planned Parenthood's President for Western Pennsylvania is quoted in the New York Times and Current as saying, "...we didn’t realize to be an underwriter that you had to agree with Catholic doctrine." She suggested that the integrity of the news on WDUQ was now in question.

The KKK, NRA, and the National Right to Life could just as easily say, "we didn't realize to be an underwriter you had to agree with the public radio audience's doctrine." Like Planned Parenthood, they could just as easily question the integrity of public radio's news based on being rejected as sponsors.

Those of us who work with the reporters, editors, and producers of public radio's national and local news know how hard they work to bring fairness and accuracy to every report. By making the selection of sponsors a litmus test for honest journalism, Planned Parenthood is attacking the work of those individuals and doing more damage to the credibility of their efforts than Duquesne University's initial action. Because right now that litmus test is coming up blue.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Proud to be in Public Radio

This is why public radio matters. NPR reports on how KPBS in San Diego responded during the fires.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Live Radio

From the fall fundraising season.

A station is pitching a dollar for dollar match from Joe Smith (name has been changed for this story). The announcers are talking about how generous Joe is, how he loves the station, and how he wants you (the listener) to enjoy the classical music he enjoys. He will part with some of his money as a way of encouraging you to pledge now.

About 20 minutes into the hour, someone hands the announcers a corrected script. It reads, "this match is being offered in memory of Joe Smith."

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Live Radio

Pledge drives are live radio and even when on-air pitchers are working from scripts there are those times when the words just don't come out right. Heard this week,

"Your contribution is essential to our excess."

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