OPINION: Two sides to the story: NPR deserves to stay

NPR provides a vital service and reducing funding will undermine good journalism

Marlena Chertock

MARCH 30, 2011

Since 1971, National Public Radio has offered news to listeners across the United States.
The organization employs more than 300 reporters and staff members around the world, not including those who work at the member stations that make it possible for NPR programming to reach the households, workplaces and cars of millions of listeners daily.

But last week, the organization’s future was put in jeopardy when the House of Representatives voted to cut funding.

NPR is a cultural haven. There are shows and stories about science, international news, education, books, technology and various genres of music. No other radio station in the United States is as well rounded as NPR.

But first and foremost, NPR is a news organization and shouldn’t have to focus on money. It shouldn’t be faced with the possibility of a large chunk of its revenue vanishing like so many other news organizations have in the last few years. This sword of Damocles could prevent it from focusing on its main priority: providing information to the public.

Media play an important role in the checks and balances of our democratic government. If it is not funded, it may disappear — and a government without news is a “Brave New World” this nation, and world, shouldn’t have to face.

Does talk about cutting the NPR budget mean some government leaders believe news is not worth keeping around, that news is something that can be sliced off bit by bit in the budget? What message will the government send if it stops funding news?

If the government condemns the funding of a news organization, it could trickle down to the rest of society and private donors, whom NPR relies on for a large chunk of its funding. Donors may follow the government and abandon the cause, as well.

Some say NPR is biased, but there is truly no other radio news organization that has the scope, depth and objectivity that NPR possesses. NPR is one of the last strongholds of integrated journalism. The organization offers stories on the radio and Web that people wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

So which is preferable: having to keep an ear tuned for bias or not getting any information at all? I think most would agree the former far outweighs the latter.

Read the other side: Maass’s belief on why NPR should not be funded by the government.