Higher ed and public radio are enmeshed. So what happens when the culture wars come?
For many who are concerned about declines in local news, shoring up the existing journalism infrastructure for public media in communities seems like a no-duh solution.
But it is important to approach, eyes-wide-open, any solution for journalism that involves government, public money, or public institutions.
The political fight over public media is often framed in terms of government spending (Mitt Romney threatened to all-but-cancel Big Bird in 2012), even though direct government subsidies are tiny — 2020 estimates put federal funding at just $1.40 per capita, compared to $100 or more in the UK, Norway, and Sweden.
But government funding is not the only way that political meddling can impact the editorial independence of public media.
About two-thirds of NPR’s 1,000-plus stations are licensed to or affiliated with colleges or …
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