‘Is PBS Still Necessary?’ PBS Viewers Say Yes
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Responds to Story in The New York Times
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/21/2008 9:48:00 AM
PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer got more than 5,000 online responses to its question on whether PBS was still relevant, the vast majority saying an emphatic "yes," according to show spokeswoman Anne Bell.
That followed a story in The New York Times with the provocative title, "Is PBS Still Necessary,” the thrust being that cable has stolen much of PBS' programming thunder.
Lehrer added an editor's note to his Tuesday broadcast about the story and asked viewers to weigh in. The show opened a forum on its Web site to collect the comments. Bell said a typical forum might get 400 or 500 responses on a hot topic.
NewsHour plans a follow-up on the story on-air.
Bell also pointed out that the story has become fodder for other sites, including more than 600 comments on Digg.com and a long string of them on PopWatch, the majority there, too, standing up for the noncommercial service.
PBS provides the best sourced, most thought-provoking and thorough
news on television today. With the infotainment/sensationalistic garbage
that passes for news on network TV these days, PBS offers a breath of
fresh air - and a source for true news in an ever-dwindling world of
celebrity-based, so-called journalism. Jim Lehrer knows that offering
differing views on a subject does not require a gaggle of paid political
pundits, shouting their partisan claptrap over each other. Good, well-
sourced journalism is essential to a vibrant democracy â€” precisely the
reason Bush and his ilk find PBS so threatening!
Linda - 2/22/2008 10:30:00 AM EST
The New York Times needs to know what "PBS" means before it says its
eulogy (Is PBS Necessary? 2\17\08).
To understand public television and what it provides, the article makes
a judgement by blindly feeling one of the legs of a sizable enterprise.
Of an average 9800 hours broadcast on a single channel, PBS provides
1200 original hours, Nat. Educ. Telecomm. Assn. distributes 2000
hours per year, American Public TV is largest distributor of free
programming and the Independent Television Service distributes
independently produced services, all in addition to local and state
productions. (Source: CPB, Balance and Objectivity )
Most of the services public television provides to its communities of
license and/or state are not even broadcast. For example, refer to this
recent report (below) as one more part of a larger service. People
across America rally to their public stations because they have a better
understanding of what it provides to their communities in total.
The 2007 results of a comprehensive survey of public television
stations undertaken by SRI International reveals that more than 84
percent of the stations are providing educational services directly to
These services, which extend beyond the broadcast, range from special
in-person reading programs for parents and childcare providers; to
professional development resources for teachers; to online activities
designed to spark student learning in subjects such as science and
The survey collected information from 165 public television licensees
(representing over 300 stations) across the country. It focused on the
off-air educational services that the stations provide to their
communities, which often go unheralded. The survey challenged
stations to describe their education programs, audiences, technology
and how they evaluate the implementation and impact of their
important education-related work.
Education Survey Highlights Include:
- Education is a core mission for public television stations.
- Public television stations provide education services tailored to the
diverse needs of the communities they serve.
- Partnerships with local schools, universities, museums, libraries and
community organizations increase the reach and impact of public
television's education services.
- Public television is a critical resource for early childhood
- Public television is a resource for K-12 educators and helps increase
- Public television stations have a long history of working with
- Public television stations provide high-value content.
- Public television stations use technology to create and broadly
distribute education services.
- Public television's education services continue to evolve within a
culture of continuous improvement.
- For public television, demonstrating impact is important.
Survey findings point to the significant work being accomplished in
communities across the nation. It also demonstrates that public
television continues to educate its diverse audiences by providing
thoughtful, relevant and engaging content, with stations implementing
a wide variety of programs and services and building strategic
partnerships in their local communities. To read the entire report,
please go to see www.cpb.org/aboutpb/education/services2008
Dwight Bobson - 2/22/2008 10:02:00 AM EST
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