If NPR were to lose its federal funding, Hamilton Nolan at Gawker rejects the popular doomsday scenarios floated by NPR’s defenders, including Vivian Schiller on the day before she resigned her post as NPR’s CEO. At worst, Nolan reasons, it would mean across the board budget cuts, but not extinction. He writes:
NPR reportedly believes that “up to 100 stations could go dark without” CPB funding. Really? Is there no re-allocation of funds that could prevent such a massacre? A 10% reduction in funding doesn’t necessarily mean 100 dead stations; it can just as easily mean a 10% budget cut at each station. In 2008, in the midst of the recession, NPR cut its workforce by 7% in a massive round of layoffs. And look: two years later, NPR and its member stations are still here.
Nolan offers no solution for alternative funding systems, but does make the case that NPR is as robust a content model as exists in radio and doesn’t deserve the headache of constantly defending itself from partisan attack at every turn. We might tend to agree, but the conversation really needs to turn to future solutions for funding public media, especially PBS, whose situation is decidedly more complicated. It also bears mentioning that PBS was approached by the same Project Veritas sting agents, but did not meet with them after their credentials could not be verified.