Is Public Television’s News Hour Serving the Public?

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

A new FAIR study suggests that the PBS NewsHour is not living up to Public Television’s promise to “reflect the pluralism of our society” and address “the needs of the unserved and underserved.”   The study shows that the sources drawn from on the program are heavily dominated by elite white males while women and minorities were severely underrepresented. FAIR determined that five elite occupations represented a majority of the sources (74 percent) with government officials overwhelmingly being the most frequent (44 percent). The study also indicates that NewsHour may not be free of political influence since the partisan voices heard seem to shift depending on which party controls Congress.

One reason that NewsHour is presenting a narrow perspective may be that PBS NewHour’s major underwriters are some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country. The list includes Chevron, Bank of America, Intel, and United Healthcare.  Another reason the program is not serving the public’s interest may be that 64 percent of program is owned by Liberty Media, a for-profit conglomerate controlled by media mogul John Mallone.  With political pressures, corporate funding, and private ownership, can NewsHour maintain its independence and serve the public?

Student Researcher:  Ryan Ferraro
Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.
Indian River State College

Sources

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Appropriation Request and Justification [Online] // CPB.org. – http://www.cpb.org/aboutcpb/financials/appropriation/justification_11-13.pdf.

Current NewsHour Funders [Online] // PBS.org. – http://www.pbs.org/newshour/aboutus/funders.html.

Editorial Standards [Online] // PBS.org. – http://www.pbs.org/about/editorial-standards/.

Fortune 500 2010 [Online] // CNN Money. – May 3, 2010. – http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2010/full_list/.

Jackson Janine What’s ‘Public’ About Public TV’s News Flagship? [Article] // Extra!. – New York : FAIR, 2010. – November. – 11 : Vol. 23.

Rendall Steve and Morel Michael Does NewsHour ‘Help Us See America Whole’? [Article] // Extra!. – New York, NY : FAIR, 2010. – November. – 11 : Vol. 23.

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 – as amended [Online] // Corporation for Public Broadcasting. – http://www.cpb.org/aboutpb/act/text.html.