Glass disses 170 Million Americans campaign for skirting criticisms of bias

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Ira Glass of This American Life criticizes the 170 million Americans advocacy campaign to defend public broadcasting’s federal funding in today’s Boston Globe. The campaign, developed by American Public Media and the Association of Public Television Stations to recruit public radio and TV supporters as advocates, fails to address conservatives’ criticism that pubcasting programs have a liberal bias, he says.

“Weirdly, my betters in the public broadcasting community have decided they’re not even going to argue about that,’’ Glass tells the Globe. “Instead they have this kind of vanilla ad campaign based on the idea that 170 million Americans watch public TV or listen to public radio, and these Americans are from all walks of life and are conservatives and liberals. That’s fine, but I feel what’s being said about us is a branding issue about the product that we make.

“I feel like, [Republicans] want to have a discussion about the content we make, let’s have that discussion. We have nothing to be afraid of,’’ he says. “The notion that we’re not actually going to say, ‘No, you have this wrong,’ that this coverage is not biased . . . I find completely dispiriting.’’

  • I have just watched the new :30 ad for this 170 million Americans campaign. Then, I sat glued to a 13-minute video from the head of the CBC about that network’s plans to reach out and serve the diversity of Canadians in this digital age.

    Perhaps U.S. public media needs to craft a similar meaningful message.

    Ira Glass has always produced THE BEST fundraising pitches in public radio. Perhaps he could create and distribute a series of clever, memorable “commercials” that will speak to the urgency and power of public media.