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WOUB pledge plea bites the hand that feeds it

February 2, 2011 - Art Smith
As a life-long news junkie, I always have gotten news from a variety of sources.

I try to read several newspapers a day, either in print or online. Getting ready in the morning I try to see a few minutes of TV news. When driving I try most days to listen to National Public Radio.

NPR stories are, for the most part, well written and informative. They help make the daily commute seem a little shorter.

I listen to NPR via WOUB in Athens. This week the station is doing fundraising by asking listeners to pledge money to help with the operation of the station.

I was about half way home Tuesday when the on-air fundraiser suggested to the station’s listeners that for less than the cost of a newspaper you could be a supporter of WOUB.

A few minutes later he did it again.

Finishing up the pledge segment they went to a segment of regional news stories. The very first story they did was one about the recall election attempt in Parkersburg. The story was from The Associated Press. The Associated Press, which is a co-op of news organizations, had picked the story up from The News and Sentinel and put it out for use by other news organizations throughout the region, including WOUB. Stories that originated at newspapers frequently are heard on broadcast news outlets. The Marietta Times and the News and Sentinel are both members of the Associated Press.

To say I was angry would be a bit of an understatement. I actually pulled off the road, looked up the number and called WOUB. I then gave the poor student volunteer on the other end of the phone a piece of my mind. She said she would pass on my concerns; I would understand if she didn’t.

First of all, their statement comparing newspaper subscriptions to the support of public radio was simplistic. The cost of a newspaper subscription is more than made up for in the amount of money it saves you in the form of coupons and notification of sales. A pledge is more of a donation. The listener will get the same broadcast regardless if they make a pledge.

Why must it be one or another? BOTH are good for you. A super market wouldn’t say for the cost of an orange you could have an apple, would they?

Why not compare it to something that does not inform and save you money at the same time? Why not say for less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes you can be a supporter of WOUB? Or how about, for less than the cost of a beer in your local bar, which I know Athens has plenty of, you can be a supporter of WOUB.

Ohio University has one of the best journalism programs in the nation. One I am proud to say I attended. WOUB is part of the College of Communications, ironically also in the college is the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, which has for generations, been training some of the best newspaper journalists in the business.


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