The split between Public Radio International (PRI) and This American Life recently highlighted the current volatility of news radio.
After 17 years of distribution with PRI, This American Life — its 2.1 million weekly listeners making it one of radio’s most popular shows — has a decision to make. It can either decide to self-distribute (an option akin to a music artist releasing independently) or sign a deal with a different distributor like American Public Media or National Public Radio.
The latter has a long and storied history in the American media landscape. However, long hailed as a bastion of journalism, the non-profit has come under fire recently for its supposed liberal bias.
Ira Glass, the host of TAL, weighed in on the issue:
“As somebody who works in public radio, it is killing me that people on the right are going around trying to basically rebrand us, saying that it’s biased news, it’s left wing news, when I feel like anybody who listens to the shows knows that it’s not.”
If you imagine the continuum between liberal and conservative as a line, it’s clear that this line has shifted drastically in the past decade. What was considered moderate is now leaning right, while previously labeled “progressive” journalism is now moderate at best.
Take, for example, the case of PBS NewsHour. A recent FAIR study revealed that the flagship program shuns diversity, accuracy and balance (72 percent of guests were white males). So it appears that these purportedly “liberal” media outlets are in reality far more moderate.