Why I'm Still Pushing NPR to Stop Promoting Fracking
Many of my friends sent the same message. We received a polite, if exasperated, email from the manager, Ken Campbell. He noted:
ANGA has been an underwriter of NPR off and on over the last several years. WSKG is not National Public Radio. WSKG is an NPR affiliate, but we have absolutely no control over who supports NPR, other than what we pay them in programming dues and fees. NPR's fundraising decisions are their own and they have a strong firewall between their development department and their news department. WSKG sees absolutely no benefit from these credits.
He also mentioned, “the FCC frowns on stations airing funding messages that advocate on controversial local issues.” It certainly seems that NPR has decided to ignore this point. Mr. Campbell stated that “objective journalism is indeed what we aim to produce on the local level, not advocacy.” And that “WSKG acts, first and foremost, in the public interest because that is who funds us and that is whom we are charged with serving.” I responded yet again in May and pointed out that their listening area and the New York Marcellus shale sweet spot were very nearly identical: Shouldn’t this be an opportunity for a public station to speak out in the public interest?
I don’t have an answer. NPR and its affiliates have failed, as has most American media, to act in the best interests of the public, to check the facts they are being fed by politicians and corporate representatives, to realize there is no controversy here, even though they keep reporting that there is. NPR hasn’t noticed – or chooses not to mention – that corporate America, and politicians, keep shifting the center of the playing field. When the science is on one side, and the corporate dollars are on the other, and the media is talking about finding middle ground, you realize that money trumps what would otherwise be fodder for investigative reporting. Would putting a Koch brother on the board of trustees put the goal post back where it belongs? Some NPR affiliates think so. Maybe National Public Radio is at a crossroads. Clearly, their model doesn’t quite work. Maybe NPR will realize this and make the necessary changes to their commercial and investigative guidelines. Will NPR morph into something more like NBC or even Fox? Maybe it already has. Or perhaps NPR needs to be dismantled and we need to reinvent media for and by the public.