Tell PBS: Don't Abandon Hard-Hitting Journalism

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Steve Rendall
srendall@fair.org
Tel: 212-633-6700 x13

Tell PBS: Don't Abandon Hard-Hitting Journalism

Now, Bill Moyers Journal need worthy replacements

WASHINGTON - Bad news for PBS viewers: Now and the Bill Moyers Journal
will be taken off the air in April 2010. Both programs stood out as
all-too-rare examples of the hard-hitting, independent programming that
should thrive on public television--which is why PBS should replace these programs with similarly thoughtful shows that continue this tradition.

In
late November Bill Moyers, who was also the original host of Now when
it launched in 2002, announced that he would be stepping down from his Journal program, which first aired in 1972 and has been running in its current incarnation since 2007. The decision to cancel Now appears to rest with PBS,
which has issued only a limited explanation, stating that the
cancellation is part of the "review and reinvention of the news and
public affairs genre on PBS," and is intended to help "revitalize public media in the context of today's rapidly changing communications environment."

As PBS ombud Michael Getler wrote (12/4/09): "I find the one and only PBS
public statement thus far about the ending of these programs to be
puzzling; unresponsive to dedicated viewers and to the high-profile
role for public affairs junkies that these broadcasts have played for
years on public television. There is no real explanation of why Now, in particular, is ending or what, if anything, will replace both programs."

Getler added: "Indeed, one can easily understand how the combination of
these two particular programs being taken off the air simultaneously
could be seen, certainly by many dedicated viewers, as signaling a move
away from hard-hitting, controversial programs."

The mission of PBS, as set forth
by the Carnegie Commission of 1967, is to "provide a voice for groups
in the community that may otherwise be unheard," to serve as "a forum
for controversy and debate," and broadcast programs that "help us see
America whole, in all its diversity." FAIR has documented over the
years how PBS has failed to live up to that promise (Extra! Update, 6/05; Extra!, 3-4/95).
Two shows that did--and which aired, in many places, together on Friday
evenings--will soon be gone. What replaces those programs will be a
test of its commitment to the very foundations of public broadcasting
itself.

The Journal, for example,
offered in April 2007 a powerful review of mainstream media malfeasance
in the run-up to the Iraq War. The show has featured probing
discussions and reports on media consolidation, torture, race, the
economy and much more. Now has amassed a similar record, with in-depth reports on the recession, health issues and Wall Street.

PBS says it will announce its plans
for replacement programs in January. But there's no reason why the
public should wait. Please join FAIR in sending a message to PBS:
In an era of cable news chatter, public television stood out for
carrying two programs committed to uncompromising, unflinching
journalism. If PBS is not going to
continue to carry these shows, then it should develop new programming
that will be just as tough and independent.

Click here to add your voice to the petition, and please help us spread the word!

 

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FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.

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