NPR’s Vivian Schiller told a gathering at the National Press Club that federal funding makes up about 10% of the budget for itself and its affiliates, but that it could be thought of as seed money that helps bring in additional funding from other sources. She added that it was more critical to smaller stations where NPR’s services are most needed. As for the Juan Williams gaffe, she said lesson learned. (view the video’s below)
RBR-TVBR Breaking: Wednesday 3/9/11: Vivian Schiller has resigned.
She noted that the current effort to defund public broadcasting is only the latest attempt, but added that it was more serious than earlier proposals due to deficit-cutting concerns. But she argued that the tiny percentage of US spending that goes to public broadcasting is more than offset by the benefits it provides and the tradition it has established.
She said she was aware of the impression many have that public broadcasting in general and NPR in particular has a leftward slant. She said every effort is made to produce objective journalism, to tell the story, and not to offer an opinion. And when opinions are offered, she said NPR seeks diverse viewpoints.
She also said she wished people in general heard how often the network is accused of being too conservative, which she claimed was not an unusual circumstance.
“Yes, it absolutely is a perception issue, and it happens at all news organizations,” she said, one that virtually all journalistic organizations are prone to and must deal with.
She noted that the network has 34M listeners weekly who tune in for an average of six hours each, and that it is on a four quarter roll of increased listening levels.
The 10% from the government supplements listener contributions, corporate underwriting and philanthropic donations. But it is most critically needed in underserved rural areas where small stations rely on government funding for 30%-50% of budget.
Asked about going to an entirely self-funded model, she said it would damage the model, which is to produce quality independent journalism. She noted that while many commercial journalism companies have been scaling back and closing foreign bureaus, NPR has actually been investing in more such enterprises. This was made possible in part by earlier cuts of underperforming programs. Schiller said the network has not yet grown back to the size it had been before undergoing cutbacks.
Talk’s about NPR’s money issues
NPR Biased or Conservative