Public TV alum ponders ‘sacrifice’ of PBS, NPR funding

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After “dallying with the idea that we as a nation might sacrifice public broadcasting,” a former PBS NewsHour executive has written an op-ed supporting federal support for the system.

Gregg Ramshaw, managing producer of the PBS weeknight program from 1983 to 2004, writes in the piece for the Tribune News Service that a few years ago he felt that “with the proliferation of cable TV channels and myriad programming choices all over the airwaves and the internet, there’s got to be something for everyone out there, right?”

But, he notes, PBS and NPR reach some 90 percent of American households, some of which do not receive cable or satellite broadcasts. And the fair and impartial reporting provided by PBS and NPR are vital to America, he said. So Ramshaw “reversed course” and now defends the federal support.

“Now, more than ever, with the onslaught of false news, alternative facts, proven lies in public debate and the unfathomable damage of computer hacking, we need responsible journalism — reporters and writers who can identify the truth and convey it in as many media as possible,” Ramshaw writes.

The news service also carried an opposing piece addressing the same question, “Should Congress cut off federal funds to PBS and NPR?” “The real problem is the news and cultural programming of both, but especially NPR, exhibit the worldview of, say, MSNBC,” writes Mike Gonzales, a senior fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Except that MSNBC is private; conservative taxpayers don’t have to support it financially.”

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