As coverage of the Obama administration continues, I find myself once again reflecting on an issue that has bothered me for years.  Regular readers know that I routinely devote words to consideration of how US public broadcasting deals with religion (as well as politics and other issues that inter-relate with my main focus here: religion and media).  Anyway, I continue to find it curious that few scholars in my field, media studies, seem to have engaged in much critical analysis of the industry.  One issue that is particularly pressing, it seems to me, has to do with the evolution of Public Broadcasting over the past decade.  Simply put, it is no longer the marginal, struggling entity it used to be. It has secured more stability, and has become more and more a central voice and force in US politics.  Most other media decision-makers apparently listen to NPR each morning, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed.  This means that it now finds itself an “insider” not an “outsider,” and anecdotal evidence would further suggest that its major voices have taken on a subjectivity that aspires to more and more centrality among the cogniscenti of US journalism. The question is, are they now motivated by the powerful, informal professional expectations of journalism as a guild (which seems to be typified today by a very unattractive attitude of cynicism about politics) or by a professional ethic of public purpose? Worth analyzing and thinking about, it seems to me.

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