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Panel on Public Media and Political Influence, Tues., Feb. 15 at NYU

February 10, 2011

The Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University will co-sponsor a presentation and discussion, “Public Media and Political Independence: Lessons for the Future of Journalism from Around the World,” on Tues., Feb. 15 at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 7th floor (between 5th and 6th Streets). The program, which begins at 6 p.m., opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. Subways: 6 (Astor Place); R (8th Street). The event is free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, visit Photo ID required for entry.

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication Rodney Benson and doctoral candidate Matthew Powers will present their recently released international study of public media systems. Discussants are Emily Bell, director, Columbia University Tow Center for Digital Journalism; Ellen Goodman, professor of law, Rutgers University; and Hartmut Wessler, professor, University of Mannheim (Germany). Moderating the discussion is Vince Stehle, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Public media in America are weathering new attacks on their funding and independence, at the same time they are being asked to fill the widening news and information gap left by the shifting media landscape. At the heart of these attacks is a question: Can government play a positive role in helping promote quality, independent journalism?

Benson and Powers analyze the concrete ways that other democratic countries fund and protect the autonomy of their public media. Public media in these countries are legally protected from partisan political interference and their organizational structures ensure that journalists have the autonomy to do their jobs. As a result, public media – television, radio, newspapers, and online news – often provide more and higher quality public affairs coverage, a wider range of viewpoints, and even are more critical of government – than their commercial media counterparts.

Public media in the U.S. have also more than proven their worth and are consistently rated among the most trusted media sources in public opinion surveys. Yet our public media system is among the poorest in the world: per capita public funding of PBS and NPR is less than $4, a drop in the bucket compared to the $30 to $130 per capita invested by countries like Germany, Canada, Sweden, and Great Britain.

As journalists, foundations, citizens, and policy-makers seek creative ways to support more quality, independent journalism, Benson and Powers’ study provides powerful evidence that public media have a positive role to play.

This event is co-sponsored by The American Assembly, Free Press, New America Foundation, NYU Council on Media and Culture, NYU Department of Sociology, NYU Steinhardt's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and the Social Science Research Council.

Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to Tim Farrell, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6797 or 

Type: Article

Panel on Public Media and Political Influence, Tues., Feb. 15 at NYU

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