No NPR? No, Thanks.

Honestly, I should be paying more attention to the campaign to defund NPR. I guess the very concept seemed ridiculous to me– Who would agree to this? And why?

As of late, after the House passed a vote to cut funding to NPR and PBS, I’ve done a bit more research.

On Tuesday, the House passed a three-week temporary spending bill with $6 billion in cuts, including $50 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports NPR and PBS.

The greatest support for the defunding came after a “sting” operation caught an NPR executive criticizing the Republican party and saying that the stations did not need the millions of dollars the government supplied them with.

Republicans have long been critical of public broadcasting and accuse it of having a liberal slant. Many felt their suspicions were confirmed when an undercover video produced by conservative activist James O’Keefe showed NPR executive Ron Schiller calling the Tea Party movement “scary” and “racist” at a meeting with a potential donor who claimed to be from a Muslim organization that supports Sharia law. Both the donor and organization were fake, part of a sting operation set up by O’Keefe.

Executive Ron Schiller has since stepped down, but the damage has been done. While I don’t condone Schiller’s name-calling, I do have admit I’m shocked by the very idea of a “sting operation” being set up to uncover NPR’s true politics. First off, there is no denying they are left-leaning. For the most part, no media source, no matter their attempts, are ever seen as neutral. A news station could have the most impartial reporting ever, but as viewers and consumers we naturally want to categorize our sources. Whether we want an enemy to be angry at, or a companion who shares our beliefs.

Media theories, such as the Uses and Gratification Theory, state that we turn to media for specific reasons. Sometimes we are looking for entertainment, but often when we turn on a news show, we are looking for further validation of our already set opinions. So if we’re liberal, we may prefer one network. If we’re conservative, we prefer a different network. We don’t necessarily want a neutral source.

But that is a tangent from the true point of this post. The bottom line is that NPR is a news source and, while aspects of it tend to be more liberal, its fundamental reporting is all-inclusive. The news on these programs is not distorted, nor are facts left out. I have heard show hosts equally criticize Republican and Democratic politicians and ideas. But, the stations are much more than just news outlets– they provide entertainment, such as my personal favorite show: Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. They also promote cultural discussions and bring in experts from a variety of fields to share knowledge with the listeners.

Of course, nothing proves a point quite like simple facts: In a Harris poll conducted in 2005, NPR was voted the most trusted news source in the U.S.

MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE? That surely counts for something.

Despite the House’s vote, the future remains somewhat bright for NPR enthusiasts like myself:

The bill, should the Senate even bring it to the floor, is almost certain to fail in that chamber. Democrats control the Senate, where members of both parties have expressed skepticism about cutting off NPR because it remains popular among many of their constituents.
In the meantime, I leave you with a very entertaining video of House Rep. Anothony Weimer mocking the efforts to defund NPR and its “un-American” programming…such as Car Talk?
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Helping A Reporter [and yourself] Out

Every time I see the emails, I assume the gummy candy company HARIBO has decided to reach out to one of their most valuable customers. While I remain disappointed with their lack of communication, I still always rejoice at the viewing of a new email from “Help A Reporter Out.” For those of you not familiar with HARO, this social media service, founded by Peter Shankman, aids in bringing together the reporters and the sources. As the website proclaims, since HARO’s first introduction in 2008, it has brought together “nearly 30,000 reporters and bloggers, over 100,000 news sources and thousands of small businesses together to tell their stories, promote their brands and sell their products and services.” Best of all– HARO is free!

I was first introduced to HARO at my internship when I was told to subscribe via email. On my second day there, I was instructed to subscribe and keep tabs on the emails. Any possible stories relevant to our clients were to be noted and reported. As a small PR firm, the company didn’t have excess funds to spend on subscribing to an expensive source, such as HARO’s primary competitor PR Newswire’s ProfNet service.

Many similar small organizations have also taken advantage of this service. As Shankman says, “People– like real people, you know, mom-and-pop types– email me and say, ‘Thank you so much. I would never have been able to afford this kind of press.'” As HARO’s tagline perfectly states, “Everyone’s an expert at something,” and Shankman’s service brings them all together. We can all benefit from something the email has to offer– whether to promote a company, brand, or person, HARO connects the reporter and the source.

Within its first year, HARO’s subscribers grew from 3,000 to 40,000. With so many requests and so much interest, Shankman is forced to send out anywhere from 1 to 2 emails per day– each with a fun and interesting subject line.

For more information on HARO, check out their website, or read this interesting article comparing the service to ProfNet. Or, even better– sign up to receive their emails!