I am home now from my babysitting stint with my two granddaughters up north. As I drove home yesterday I listened to public radio, as I always do when I am driving alone. Listening to engaging conversation keeps me awake. I started to think about why it is that I am drawn to public broadcasting, radio and TV. People have suggested that they are biased. Of course! There is not a person or organization on earth that doesn’t have a bias. A bias to me is a lens through which we look at the world and it is designed by one’s experiences and what one has been taught. I have a definite bias. Bias does not have to be wrong. It just does not contain all that is true. Openness is not non-bias. It is being open-ended, prepared to listen and experience more even at the risk of altering one’s world view, or bias.
Having said that, here are the reasons I make use of public radio and TV:
1. No commercials; supporters of any program are named at the beginning and end of a program, however.
2. When discussing issues, only real experts are invited. By experts I mean people educated and have given their life’s work around a particular issue. You would not expect Donald Trump to be invited to talk about any political issue even if he does consider himself an expert. These experts will represent opposing views not for the sake of debate, but to present the complexity of issues that effect different segments of the society. An exception is an actual debate.
3. No stupid news. By stupid, I mean gossip about celebrities that flood other news programs. I find that kind of “news” boring, judgmental, and intrusive into people’s lives. It makes me uncomfortable. Celebrities may be mentioned but most often because they received some special recognition or because they died.
4. Investigative reporting often includes the little people who are are being effected by events: families whose water is being contaminated by strip mining, the business owners along the coast after an oil spill, individual citizens who live in war-torn areas of the world, the poor and the homeless and those suffering from discrimination.
5. Public broadcasting will give over their regular programming to important events. They can do this, I suppose, because they aren’t answerable to their advertisers. I was able to watch Mandella’s memorial in full without commercial breaks and without distracting commentary.
6. During election time, NPR will broadcast debates in full. I especially like it when I can listen to Minnesota candidates. It really helps me make informed decisions.
It is good to be home and back to my regular routine. But it sure was a great week with my grandchildren.