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Knight study raps public radio on local coverage

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of CommunitiesA new report says that public broadcasters fall short when it comes to providing their audiences with news and information about their city or neighborhood.

“With some notable exceptions, public broadcasting in America has been widely criticized as being insufficiently local or diverse,” concludes Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age. “Public stations do not have a strong record of spearheading local investigative journalism, and most public radio broadcasters have little or no local news reporting staff. Finally, again with some promising exceptions, local public stations have failed to embrace digital innovations as a way to better connect with their communities.”

The study was released by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy (hopefully Radio Survivor readers are impressed by the length of these titles). The 148 page document says that while the Internet is a snap at connecting people thousands of miles apart, its “full potential is not yet realized in the service of geographic communities, the physical places where people live and work.”

The report notes that public broadcasters in the United States get a lot less government support than pubcasters elsewhere. $1.35 per capita here; $80.36  in the United Kingdom. But that doesn’t take public radio and TV off the hook, as far as Knight is concerned:

“Public broadcasting needs to move quickly toward a broader vision of public service media, one that is more local, more inclusive, and more interactive. This means pursuing greater integration of new technologies and communication practices with traditional forms of broadcasting. It means using digital platforms to engage local institutions effectively in the public sphere. To advance this, government as well as private sector donors should condition their support of public media on its reform. They should support the creating, curating, and archiving of public media content on the community level.”


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