I’m popping my head up to let y’all know that I have a book project well underway, about the history of “objectivity” in U.S. journalism. It will be out in 2019 from University of Chicago Press and will be heavy on radio stuff.
I’m excitedly starting in on research right now for the chapter about public radio. It will focus on the origins of public radio, and the tension between the focus on neutrality and objectivity, and the reality that public radio was created through a political act (literally: the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967). I’ll argue that we can’t have “diversity” of voices and stories without proactive efforts to make space for that diversity to thrive–again, an inherently political act. This chapter will explore that as a paradox in the context of public radio’s charge to remain apolitical.
I’ve already reached out to some of you to ask you to chat, but I thought I’d also put an open call. I’m looking for people who’ve been around the block. I’d love to talk to you in the next couple weeks if you were around at the beginnings of NPR, or if you have opinions or experiences related to this that you’d like to share. And, feel free to thread if folks want to get opinionated on this topic right here and now–I’m really curious what people think, especially in light of some of the painful recent news about sexual and racial harassment in many corners of the public radio world. I am also happy to tell you more about my angle, though at the moment I’m really just in research mode and curious what I will find.
Pacifica and much of community radio never made a pretense of being
objective, in part because of the clear priorities of commercial
broadcasing, and the false objectivity and risk aversion of public radio.
lots of history there!
Incredibly tragic that Pacific will soon be gone.
*”Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is only New Jersey.”*