PBS: Can you say "unlevel playing field?"

(Blog Post) In reading Alessandra Stanley's July 12 column, "Mr. Secretary, This Is Your Life (in Plenty of Detail) I thought of the PBS handling of the film Coal Country v.s. that of the tribute to George Schultz. At the time that PBS pulled the plug on airing Coal Country, citing its Sierra Club funding, I wondered whether Board member Sharon Rockefeller (wife of the big coal lovin' WV Senator) had played any role. Full Story »

Posted by Barry Grossheim - via Kaizar Campwala (t)
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Member Tags: PBS, Mountain Top Removal
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Posted by: Posted by Barry Grossheim - Jul 14, 2010 - 10:09 AM PDT
Content Type: Blog Post
Edit Lock: This story can be edited
Edited by: Beth Wellington - Jul 16, 2010 - 9:26 PM PDT
Dwight Rousu
4.4
by Dwight Rousu - Jul. 16, 2010

Wellington provides fairly extensive investigation to demonstrate that the right wing attempted takeover of PBS has had significant success at biasing the content of PBS coverage. Other sources who have found similar bias are quoted. This is important journalism in working for the freedom of the press, that part that allows the independent media to be seen on the airwaves.

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Jack Dinkmeyer
4.1
by Jack Dinkmeyer - Jul. 16, 2010

Good opinion piece showing just how far right wing tentacles reach. Describing PBS's program selection process, the article makes obvious that no matter which medium or channel, PBS to Fox, money, cronism, and contacts play a much more important role than objectivity or viewer interests and benefits.

As I remember George Schultz, he was a forgettable, nothing part of Tricky Dicky’s cabinet. Who the Hell cares now, anyway?

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Betsy Taylor
4.9
by Betsy Taylor - Jul. 18, 2010

Yes, it achieves the key goals of sound journalism -- in careful & transparent use of sources, efforts to track down the best sources, clear statements re/ important questions & implications, timely engagement with breaking stories. In addition, it does something that Wellington consistently does well. She is one of the few good journalists who has made 'coal' her beat in a holistic way. Rather than focus only on one dimension -- she integrates multiple dimensions -- the political economy of the coalfields, the emerging social movements, the new & diverse media & art, the policy questions re/ energy & coal industry. She can do this because she's built up over years, a strong network of sources, contacts -- and she's got the ... More »

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Fabrice Florin
3.8
by Fabrice Florin - Jul. 18, 2010

Interesting opinion on PBS's decision to cancel 'Coal Country', a documentary on mountaintop removal, because it was funded by Sierra Club. This blog post advocates thoughtfully against this decision, pointing to other programs aired by PBS, despite similar conflicts of interest.

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Cathie Bird
4.2
by Cathie Bird - Jul. 16, 2010

I always root for good films on how coal mining impacts people and nature to get national exposure. Coal Country is a good film -- I agree with Wellington that it's one of the more "even-handed" ones -- and I think PBS viewers would have appreciated it. Beyond that, I think films like this need to be seen: People and nature in Appalachia are suffering because of this deadly practice of mountaintop removal mining, just as other Americans are suffering out of sight and out of mind ... More »

Disclosure: Cathie is involved in this story (review not included in overall rating). Help
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Barry Grossheim
4.0
by Barry Grossheim - Jul. 16, 2010

The author looks at the decision making process at PBS regarding airing potentially controversial films and questions their consistency.

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Vernon Haltom
4.2
by Vernon Haltom - Jul. 16, 2010

While we expect PBS's "non-commercial" reputation to present documentaries untainted by advertising money, Ms. Wellington exposes that reputation as a facade. This entry makes the reader question all PBS documentaries. If PBS were to apply the same principle of not airing Coal Country because of Sierra Club sponsorship, we would logically expect there to be no science programs funded by BP or other energy companies.

PBS needs to air this documentary. The disaster of mountaintop removal is one of the most important current issues, but one of the most under-covered. Because Coal Country had Sierra Club funding is a flimsy excuse. Why does PBS really want this story covered up?

Disclosure: Vernon is involved in this story (review not included in overall rating). Help
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