Overreacting to NPR story

Posted: Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I am the manager of the community radio station in Petersburg. We receive federal, state, and municipal funding along with contributions from listeners and businesses throughout the Petersburg area.

I am writing to say "Yes" to the question posed by Lew Williams in Sunday's Juneau Empire. The question was "Should taxpayers fund this?" Mr. Williams was referring to public broadcasting.

His argument for not funding public broadcasting was based on a report by Elizabeth Arnold, formerly of Juneau, on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, which aired June 10. The report was filled with several mistakes. I, as a listener and as a manager of a radio station that broadcast that piece filed a complaint with National Public Radio over the inaccuracy of the piece the very day it aired.

Mr. Williams was correct in pointing out one of the mistakes in the report, the size of the forest and the amount of timber in the forest. However, he failed to point out that she also mistakenly reported that the Knowles administration held an opposing view from the Murkowski administration regarding the Roadless Rule, which was the subject of the news story on National Public Radio. We must remember the original lawsuit challenging the Roadless Rule was filed by the Knowles administration.

It is important when getting information for any purpose that we make sure what we are receiving is accurate. If you know of information to be inaccurate, then it is your responsibility to let it be known. Mr. Williams did this, but only to a certain extent. He pointed out only some of the misinformation, and I wonder if he contacted the source of the misinformation. That seems to be the most responsible course of action.

I wonder, too, if Mr. Williams is aware of the importance of public broadcasting to the people of remote villages throughout Alaska.

Sen. Stevens is very much aware of the importance. He proves it again and again when he proposes funding for public broadcasting and fervently opposes cuts to public broadcasting.

Mr. Williams asks, "Should taxpayers fund this?" The answer, yes, and if you should know of a mistake in a report, let them know about it. I did.

Is it a reason to cut the funding? No. That reaction would leave too many Alaska residents without a source for news, information, and entertainment.

Tom Abbott


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