March 02, 2009

WILLblog returns...with disturbing news 

WILLblog was always intended to provide an insider's view on the public broadcasting world. (Soon we'll call it public media, but that's another post for another day...) Today I have some troubling news about struggling stations around the system. Of course just about everyone is dealing with fallout from the economic mess we're in, so this isn't meant to say "poor us." This is, however, about public broadcasting, so here goes: WNED REDUCES BUDGETED EXPENSES AND STAFF POSITIONS (Buffalo, NY) State funding for public TV, radio on chopping block (Charlottesville, VA) Layoffs at WBEZ, Vocalo (Chicago, IL) These are only three news items about very large cuts at local stations. I have friends at other stations all over the country, and many of them are laying off staff, cutting local programs, and reducing services just to survive. Of course newspapers across the nation are being hit even harder. In the case of some, like the Chicago Tribune, solvency is imperiled by excessive debt from buying other newspapers. Others, like the Rocky Mountain News, just couldn't make their payroll. Here is an important question we must raise as high as possible: At a time when, more than ever, we need to know what's happening, who will report the news? One other thing occurs to me as I ponder the fate of local npr and pbs stations: We have a chance to salvage the disaster happening to communities whose newspapers are folding, if we can remain strong enough to deliver. Might be a big if...

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