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Politician held accountable: Why public media funding matters

Media Funding for Local Public Media Is More Important Than Ever

November 29th, 2016   ||    by Callie Wheeler   ||    No Comments

Results from a recent Gallup poll are sobering: Americans’ trust in media is down eight percentage points from last year, with only 32 percent of respondents indicating they have “a great deal or a fair amount of trust” in media. In light of this declining faith, it’s more important than ever to fund local public media in order to provide quality and alternative news.

Providing an Alternative

Public media provides an alternative avenue for Americans who distrust the money behind the content they’re seeing, reading, or hearing. Media funding for public media groups comes from state governments, the federal government, and grants, providing some distance from funding and revenue that other media outlets may not have.

At the Public Media Alliance global conference this year, the discussion around media distrust was front and center. As the International Journalists’ Network reported, a panel on the topic highlighted investigative journalism as one of local public media’s biggest needs in the face of corruption. Investigative journalism requires funding of proper investigative teams, as well as collaboration between media groups. While costly and challenging, recent successes like the Panama Papers illustrate why such efforts continue to matter.

Good News

Funding for public media is improving, according to recent numbers shared on Current. Thirteen states increased funding for public TV and radio this year, while only seven made cuts. Alabama increased the budget for Alabama Public Television by 35 percent, the largest increase for 2017.

Other organizations are championing local public media as well. The Knight Foundation’s Knight Local Media Initiative is a $5 million project that supports local news, especially in light of the digitization of many newspapers. Grants have been provided to over 50 online news sites around the country, and the initiative has partnered with the Institute for Nonprofit News to encourage innovation and sustainability in public media.

Looking Ahead

Public media will continue to play a large role in Americans’ news consumption, from public broadcast television to public radio programs. Ensuring funding for these programs guarantees that viewers, listeners, and readers have access to the kind of investigative reporting that can help decrease the potential for corruption.

Public media funding also provides Americans with alternative viewpoints and reliable mediums for programming. Organizations like The Knight Foundation are helping public media groups adapt to a changing landscape while still providing the coverage audiences have come to depend on.

As the world—and the way it consumes media—evolves, it becomes more important now than it ever has been to ensure local public media isn’t lost.

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