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New York Times Article Questions PBS’s Relevancy

The piece touched off debate within the Times community, and when the paper’s Web site later closed its comments section, the article had received more than 800 responses. The NewsHour has received more than 6,600 responses.

You can read the comments on the Times site.  Some of the comments we received are below.

Posted: 03/4/08 at 01:25 PM
Rosamond Robbert, Kalamazoo MI : How else can we get news on cable? PBS and the News Hour are essential. The News Hour is the only source of reasoned, non-hyper news available to us. The reporters are incredibly professional and guests are well chosen. I cannot imagine what we would do without the News Hour. Recently our cable company (Charter) in their wisdom took away WTTW a PBS station in Chicago. This despite pleas and letters from viewers. I do not get the sense that PBS is a high priority channel for these companies. We live in dread that our only access to the News Hour through WVGU will also be removed.

Posted: 03/4/08 at 12:56 AM
George Miller : The PBS News Hour is objectve, comprehensive and thorough. The new york times is politically and $$ motivated like all the other Goliath mainstream 10 second “media” malls.

Posted: 03/3/08 at 11:35 PM
Renee & David : What we cannot understand is the assertion that there is no longer a need for PBS since WE have so many “options”. Whoever makes a comment like this is not a very discriminating viewer. To mention cable stations like the History Channel and Discovery Channel are great for people who like commericals, further the level of expertise is not in the league of the PBS programs. Where on ANY station are programs of the quality of FRONTLINE, American Experience, Moyers Journal, Nature, Now, Charlie Rose or other PBS / NPR public affairs & news programs. The expertise and intelligence of their contributors/writers/producers/particpants are vital for our democracy. As for our cultural life, where else are we to find programs of the quality of American Masters or Great Performances? There are many more programs of excellence to call attention to that are NOWHERE else to be found on our PUBLIC AIRWAYS. PLEASE don’t take PBS or NPR away when we need it even more than ever.

Posted: 03/3/08 at 08:47 PM
Skati : I record the newshour on tivo so I can watch it when I get home, or later at night. I find I do not have time or interest to watch every segment, but unlike network news broadcasts, I do not have to frequently fast-forward through air-headed drivel about some celebrity’s mental and papparazzi problems, which I find depressing to be reminded of, not so much for the plight of the poor victims subjected to the media harrassment, as the reminder that there must be millions of viewers that have so little life of their own that they waste it away watching such trash. CNN used to be good until it decided to go ‘soft’ (in the head). The PBS newshour is one of the few benchmarks left out there in an avalanche of infotainment where the boundary between fantasy and reality has become so blurred that it is clear that many news organizations feel it is no longer important to make clear where that boundary is.

Posted: 03/3/08 at 06:24 PM
DonIrene : PBS gives us the most interesting, informative programs, particularly TheNewsHour, and the suggestion that its time to eliminate PBS is shocking. The depth, clarity, intelligence and humanity of TheNewsHour team is strikingly superior to any other TV news source. WE NEED PBS

Posted: 03/3/08 at 04:24 PM
Robert Graves : News Hour is the ONLY daily news show (as opposed to a feature news program such as Frontline) that I trust…that’s a sad commentary on the state of television news, but doesn’t diminish the quality of the News Hour in any way. It’s the only show that has interviewers who have any depth of knowledge about the subject they’re reporting on. Compare that to a John King on CNN who recently conducted an interview with the opening remark to his subject that he doesn’t really understand the subject. So, is PBS still necessary…you’re damned right it is!!!

Posted: 03/3/08 at 01:27 PM
Marilyn O’Leary : My husband and I watch the News Hour every day to keep up with important news and to receive a more in depth and fair treatment of issues than we can get anywhere else on tv. It is critical to keep the News Hour on not only because it is fair, but because it is free. We don’t have cable tv, and so most of our tv fare comes from PBS. The News Hour is at the top of our list for viewing. We also read our local daily newspaper and the NY Times, but we still need the commentary and focus of the News Hour to give us the up to the minute news. One of the main reasons we contribute to PBS is for the News Hour.

Posted: 03/3/08 at 10:32 AM
Denise : PBS is an absolute necessity. The NewsHour and Washington Week are by far the best in news reporting and roundtable discussion. I don’t have cable, by choice, and would be very disappointed if PBS was not there for me on a daily basis. Network TV is horrible.

Posted: 03/3/08 at 04:06 AM
Nick Lento : As flawed as PBS is, and as compromised as it has become by corporate money and the associated pressures that entails; it is ABSOLUTELY “still” necessary!!! In fact, we need MORE publicly funded mass media, not less!!!

Posted: 03/2/08 at 11:16 AM
martha : I believe PBS is the only concern that would produce and broadcast a program series like the upcoming Unnatural Causes about health disparities in the US.( a program what is geared to inform and engage citizens to address a major ill in our society). There is No comparison between The News Hour and network nightly news coverage for example the depth of coverage of a topic. And what kind of an argument against The News Hour is it that some of the original viewers are now in assisted living?????

Posted: 03/2/08 at 02:18 AM
K. Bousfield : For TV news there is no fairer, than the NewsHour, with Jim Lehrer. Where is news found on TV ? Surely not on Fox, CNN or ABC. From them bombings, fires, crashes, and riots; vacuous starlets, pro sports and new fad diets; Oh, heavens, just for once please spare us from more stories of that hotel heiress. Celeb worship and limpid reportage do not explain a NINJA mortgage. A cooking planet ? Rising China ? America?s decline? For things like this they have no time; Unless jammed in jolting 15 second stimulations between babes selling beer, and cars, and cheap vacations. They follow one true route to succeed ?If it bleeds, it leads?, – a singularly simple creed. No, when the working day is done, for America?s news, there is but one, (Alright, the BBC makes two, depending on your point of view, And both are found on PBS, and much else as well, but I digress;) Some believe that freedom can only be defended, with guns and guts as (in their view) God intended. But freedom of speech is what matters most, And there, like Horatio, stand the NewsHour and its host. Ignorance and extremism are by gentle truth beaten back; teased out with the grin, the wit and balance they lack. News for adults ? True enough, indeed. This is news for those who like to think and read, But for former Wishbone watchers, too. They might one day succeed to positions in which they just might lead. Or for those who simply wish to make the chances less remote in November of casting an informed vote. Daily summary, then fair analysis of breadth and depth and scope; and rational discussion of conflicting views gives hope. That reason may prevail, that those who seek to understand, may find in this show a promised land. On Friday, Shields and Brooks review the week (where Shields and Gurgen used to speak) Finally, at the end, in silence, one by one; Those humbling photos, full of youth and promise, and belief Each one a heartbreaking reminder of a wife, or a child, or a parent’s grief. This program stands out far beyond the rest The New York Times must surely speak in jest For TV news there is no fairer, than the NewsHour, with Jim Lehrer. Notes: (1) Is Jim Lehrer really 73 ? It must be love of his work that keeps him so young. (2) Margaret Warner is a very, very good journalist. (3) Ray Suarez’ recent piece on Spanish speakers in the US was quite something. But then again, it is work like that the sets the NewsHour apart from all other US news shows. A good thing, too, because there is no comparable alternative program in the US. (3) If you miss the NewsHour, in essence you can’t get hard news on the TV in the US. Similarly, most hotels deliver only USA Today (suitable for lining birdcages, trees died for this ?) Americans may be accustomed to it, but if you are visiting from outside the US, it can be quite frustrating.

Posted: 03/1/08 at 09:26 PM
Bullwinkle : PBS is one of the few media/information outlets that is helping people to keep thinking and learning, instead of “trying to dumb them up.” Shades of 1984, anyone? One comment: please get NOW back to one hour, love Bill Moyers Journal, keep the News Hour and Washington Week on the air and get History Detectives back on our local channels, instead of just one channel that’s not even in the area.

Posted: 03/1/08 at 05:31 PM
Dominique : Dear PBS Team: You might want to send a simple little ‘thank you’ note to the Times for the additional $12 bucks a month that I am rerouting to PBS instead of my $3.00 weekly cost for the Sunday Times. Really it is the thought that counts:) I plan my viewing schedule one week in advance, PBS is the first planned, as all others pale by comparison.

Posted: 02/29/08 at 11:17 PM
Huang : Hey i am Chinese and have been learning English for more than ten years and i chanced upon PBS six or seven years ago and i’ve kept coming back to check on this website ever since and recommend it to folks around me. you give ideal material for English learners with all these audio/video clips and scripts and on top of that you open a window to the world. i really appreciate that and i want to say: thank you!

Posted: 02/29/08 at 07:24 PM
Samuel Bartmess : I am 24 years old and have supported KUNM and the NewsHour since I was 20. I feel their programming and coverage is a insightful contribution to our collective dialogue here in the states.

Posted: 02/29/08 at 04:38 PM
Kevin Hutchcroft : There simply is no comparison; the News Hour is the only source for daily news without obsessively “marketing” its anchors and reporters. It is the only broadcast that delivers objective and in-depth coverage without the sensational, without flashy graphics. It best maintains fidelity to basic journalistic principles.

Posted: 02/29/08 at 11:28 AM
Reese’s : I’ve been a loyal fan of PBS for years now. Ever since I was a little kid up til now and I will remain so for the rest of my life. How dare the New York Times even say that PBS isn’t “relevant”. It’s still as relevant (even MORE so now) as it was in the first place and needed more than ever these days. God bless Jim Lehrer and everyone else who has a show on PBS, especially Bill Moyers, David Brachaccio (sp?), and Gwen Effiel. Keep on fighting the good fight you guys!

Posted: 02/29/08 at 08:50 AM
Mary Blythe : The NY Times negative article on the necessity of PBS was a frivolous attempt to show how ‘modern’the NY Times has become. One of the most perfect traits of America, is our Publiic Broadcasting System!

Posted: 02/29/08 at 04:31 AM
libbyliberal : PBS BASHING? WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS? When the pre-emptive strike on Iraq was being spun and promoted to an incredulous public by all the talking governmental and media heads, I recall an articulate, intelligent and dignified woman from some kind of peace organization as a guest on PBS …. was it a Newshour segment, or a Charlie Rose round table panel? This self-possessed woman quietly explained the colossal damage to Iraq?s INFRASTRUCTURE such a military campaign would begat. I think that was the first time I had heard the term ?infrastructure.? I got the scope of it. She went on to paint detailed and informed images of the sustained nightmare of this collapsed infrastructure for the citizens of Iraq, our own troops and our country. Finally, she warned of the gargantuan task of re-building said infrastructure. I believed her. That serious, sane voice in 2003 has haunted me as her depiction has come to pass. If anyone in America has a right to say ?I told you so,? she does. I often thought of writing the Newshour or Charlie Rose to see if they recalled that particular segment and could rerun it. MY POINT BEING…. THAT VOICE OF SANITY AND INSIGHT WAS ON PBS!!! I am late on reading and commenting on the Times article. I skimmed it and my jaw dropped. Why yes. With all that is wrong with the world at the moment, our collective trip to hell in the proverbial hand-basket, this NYT writer chooses to ATTACK PBS? Charles McGrath, how dare you? But as Rachel Maddow says, in this ethical freakshow of a universe… there you are. Have you ever seen the movie of Fahrenheit 451? PBS is like the bastion for the ?book people.? Bradbury envisioned them as the hope of civilization. The seekers of the truth and of expansion of body, mind and spirit. Those on the vanguard. Those who are disenfranchised and sabotaged by the narrow, smug focus of the media mouthpieces and governmental demigods. How stifling it would be without a PBS or CSpan. To only have access to most of corporate mainstream media?s kool-aid night after night. The rants of the ego-driven, short sighted, opportunistic and glib. These pundits using their incredibly potent voices to signal their vast audience what to think and feel. No critical thinking required. In our reality show type-titillated culture (or anti-culture) these commentators are becoming more and more reckless and destructive. Eroding our identities and our vitality as proactive and thinking citizens of the world home. I now eagerly seek out CSpan and PBS to keep me grounded. To acquire some perspective. To be reassured there are thoughtful and intelligent people in this world. Asserting truth to me, my fellow enlightened (and desirous of being enlightened) viewers … and also, importantly, asserting TRUTH TO POWER! Perhaps the vast majority of the American tv viewership want to enjoy gossip about class, glamour, the sexiness of wealth and power. They prefer watching Paris, Brittany, Simon Cowell. Or they prefer listening to strident-voiced political commentators using the histrionic, black and white language of gamesmanship. Stirring it up for the audience and themselves. Clever, outrageous, bombastic. Suppliers of short-term titillation. This country is fighting for its immortal soul. And most of the media is missing the battle. So are you, Mr. McGrath. Your attack I consider ?friendly fire.? Give me Jim, Ray, Gwen, Judy, Margaret, Mark and the rest of the team. Give me Charlie R. Give me Bill Moyers. Give me Ken Burns. Give me Frontline. And give me Judy Dench as Jean Pargetter. Patricia Rutledge as Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced, ?Bouquet? to you, Mr. McGrath). Ever think that hers is such a respected and sought out show because of her satiric GENIUS, and not from tiresome scheduling for a boring (in your eyes) viewing audience. Give me Helen Mirren as Jane Tennyson. Give me Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. (Please, please give me Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy???) Give me Rupert Everett as the wonderful new Sherlock Holmes. Aw, too many to list, of course. Just give me great literature. Give me great drama. Give me great music. Give me great comedy. And why are you knocking Jane Austen? Will your next column be anti-Shakespeare? Your presumptuous discounting of quality, done-its-homework, educational commentary, and brilliantly prepared and beloved cultural programming is even more ridiculous than it is insulting. PBS deserved some kudos and you, Mr. McGrath, were a catalyst in inspiring them. But I hope your toxic message does not make PBS more vulnerable to the kool-aid makers and its drinkers out there. For the sake of my very soul, leave PBS alone!

Posted: 02/29/08 at 12:49 AM
David &Gienia : don’t let them take you down we only get a hour here in Australia. We try very hard not miss it: that is Jim Lehrers hour balanced informative one of the best.

Posted: 02/29/08 at 12:27 AM
Lois Adams : As long as can be remembered, even with O’Neil, The News Hour has been a ritual with our family. It is by far the most outstanding broadcast of its kind and the idea that it is obsolete or irrelevant is obsurd. Its importance is shared by four adult children and is part of each of their family’s evening with their kids. The contents of the program is outstanding and is much more than “just a news program”. Those are a dime a dozen. We contribute to the station locally and inthe SF area primarily to assure that we can have The News Hour, Nova, and Bill Moyers. Without those three, this family would be devastated.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 11:30 PM
Omid : PBS is a gift that keeps on giving, the complete opposite of The New York Times.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 09:56 PM
Richard & Lorena : Sorry for being way-late. we’re not avid podsters. But we are so very grateful to PBS. It is TV we believe in. The NewsHour tells us honestly the real news and the real debate going on. We could go on just this week with shows we watched on PBS that educated us and reeducated us to our expected level of happiness. Thanks for being there and Let Us at the guys who would dare say Public TV ain’t relevant.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 09:23 PM
WOLFGANG MOLLER : Like my blood PBS is indispensible to intelligent life and my body. It is the oxygen which feeds my brain. It is the food which gives my body life. Is therenything more important ? Wolfgag Moller

Posted: 02/28/08 at 07:46 PM
Pursang : Seems the New York Times walks in lockstep with other entity’s like Faux News which is just a “little” slanted in so far as “Fair and balanced”. If I want to view the news it’s gonna be The News Hour hands down.Very neutral in their reporting. I appreciate that.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 05:44 PM
Peter Kahn : My comment here is restricted to the issue of the decline in the PBS audience. I have not had access to the discussion, so my comment may be repeating what others have already said. Twenty years ago, PBS, as well as the other major national networks had few competitors. That has changed dramatically, so that now, there are hundreds of nationally available TV outlets, certainly a few dozen of which provide some programming that is competitive with what is presented by PBS. For statistical reasons, one would expect a spreading out of audience distribution. Further, although the national viewing audience has probably grown in the last twenty years, it is unlikely to have grown at nearly the rate of proliferation of the new stations. Thus, again for statistical reasons, one would expect an overall decrease in the market share per station or per network. Indeed, as far as I have been able to learn, all the major networks have experienced a decrease in audience. What would be interesting would be to compare the decrease of the PBS audience with those of the other national networks. One clue as to the possible result is given by the fact that the NPR audience has increased. This could indicate that the PBS audience decline is relatively smaller when compared with the decline of audience o other networks. Incidentally, the fact that NPR audiences have increased while PBS audiences have decreased can also be explained by the above observations. NPR uses FM broadcasting, which by its nature is essentially local and not amenable to rapid or great proliferation. Each town has its few FM stations (cities have many, of course), but the number has not grown in the same way that TV stations have…at least this is my conjecture. So, NPR has not had to face a vastly larger group of competitors. My guess is that the increase in NPR audience indicates that that portion of our citizenry interested in what public broadcasting has to offer is alive and well. and, on the TV side of things, is resisting the leveling out trend in the medium rather better than the commercial networks. What can or should be done to improve the PBS product and really turn things around? Well, I have ideas about that too. But that’s a more complicated story.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 05:05 PM
Lucille Alan : We never miss the News Hour.It is irreplaceable. The news is presented thoughtfully, intelligently and clearly by excellent anchors. We record it every night for the times when we get home late.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 04:20 PM
Lulu : I am 77 years old. I do not have cable or satellite, just very good antenna reception from three different stations. I seriously doubt that I would bother to have a televeision set if it were not for PBS.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 03:57 PM
janet : To Whom it may concern, I am a 77 year old who has been watching,since its beginning[PBS},it with my grandchildren and my own children. I watch every night that I am home.I know that many of the programs have had a good infuence on the sudents that I taught in my twenty years of teaching children. You can see some of the influence the programs have had when you go into the homes and see the books games,and dolls that are there. I watch many of the news and drama progams and enjoy them for three reason: first they are entertaining, present more than one side of the issue and I do not have to change station when the many ads come on the other outfits.Please do not even consider leaving us in the dark of the many other stations that are left. Thanking you

Posted: 02/28/08 at 01:43 PM
Ray See : Given the apparent collapse of the New York Times pursuit of quality journalism insofar as how the McCain story was written, it is even more obvious to me that we need more News Hour, Charlie Rose, and other fine programs if we are to remain informed. While I do not like everything that appears on PBS, I understand that this is truly the American TV network and all Americans do not agree with me on all subjects. Good. Finally, I would have the federal government triple or quadruple the PBS budget so we can be rid of corporate sponsors.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 01:40 PM
Karen M. Kohlmann : I watch PBS nightly. I especially enjoy Jim Leher and the newshour. We would be lost without it! It is by far the best thing on T.V.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 01:22 PM
Nana : Nana: How could someone question the relevancy of PBS where informative and intersting programs such as Frontline, American Masters, Nova, Now, Bill Moyers Journal, Great Performances, NewsHour, Washington Week, and the best children programs are only found on PBS, and no where else. I believe supporting PBS is one of the best use of our tax money and this support, in fact should be increased.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 11:21 AM
Helley : For the writer of the NYT to say that PBS adds a ‘note of grace’ to our viewing is like saying that clothing adds to personal modesty. How ridiculous to even question the value of programs that make TV viewing tolerable. The programs on Frontline, American Masters, Nova, Now, Bill Moyers Journal, Great Performances, NewsHour, Washington Week, not to mention Sesame Street, Barney, etc. are ones that we can find nowhere else on commercial TV. For this writer to question the use of tax money being spent on PBS, when many of us believe it is one of the best use of our taxes, is ludicrous.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 09:02 AM
Larry Lunt : PBS is definitely necessary, especially the Lehrer news hour. It is the only in-depth analysis of the issue of our times. By comparison, the network stations news shows are more focused on entertainment rather than news.

Posted: 02/28/08 at 01:44 AM
Christopher Armstrong-Stevenson : Not just “relvant” but essential. I live in Portland, Oregon and am only able to receive two stations, the NBC affiliate and PBS. NBC’s chief client is the local Basketball team…the losers called the TrailBlazers. News always give way to a game. Obviously much more important to the station’s owners. I’ve lived on PBS for many years…back when the NewsHour was still called “McNeill-Lehrer”. I live for the Friday evening news wrap, although I’m disappointed at how Foreign Exchange has deteiorated inder the new presenter. I also dislike the addition of Judy Woodruff…that left-over from commercial TV where she couldn’t hold down a job. Her “interview” with Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, Februay 27 was travesty of “news-interview”…she was unable or unwilling to press Clinton on any of her weak responses. Give her job to someone more capable. And why does Woodruff have a continual scowl or frown…is it because of those “bangs” she has to continuously swish away while on camera? Take her off the show, please. Anyway, yes, PBS is a “MUST” in my life…not only because of the news but for many other programs also. The only thing I regret is the ghastly, constantly repeated shows saved up for Pledge Months every quarter. Why do self-help and vintage performers (and some are REALLY vintage!) get trotted out in an attempt to get us to open our wallets? The regular shows should do that…because of their intrinsic value and worth.I try to get out of the house, or just switch off, when they all come around. I hope to see PBS continue for my lifetime…after which I hope to help ensure its continuation from wherever I “end-up”. Hopefully “Above” not “Under” .

Posted: 02/28/08 at 01:39 AM
Pudding please : **************************************************** The Proof is in the pudding: The Nightly Business Report can run circles around The Newshour. NBR is more technologically relevant and more likely to catch fire with the mobile internet devices than the The Newshour. Why do you pay for an inefficient, unimaginative, close-boxed production staff in the Newshour? *****************************************************

Posted: 02/28/08 at 01:00 AM
sk8asd123 : I first discovered the Newshour by accident because it was the clearest station on my tv. After watching Newshour for the first time, I knew right then that it was my new favorite tv news program. Even my experimentation w/ cable didn’t change my mind. It’s the in-depth news stories that help strike up conversations with strangers or the thought-provoking questions that you spend days mulling over – I love it all.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 11:04 PM
Rebekah E. Adams : I strongly support the continuaton of the News Hour and it is the only station that my husband and I watch for the news. The News Hour provides a provacative, insightful account of the news and is one of the few programs that does so. We no longer watch CNN as that channel has become too “entertainment” oriented, and no longer provides an objective presentation of the news. In today’s climate of appealing to the largest audiences possible, programs like the News Hour are even more important! Keeping the News Hour is critical if we are to maintain an indepth understanding of world events. The staff of the News Hour does an excellent job of presenting the issues in a knowledgeable, understandable manner. Thank you!

Posted: 02/27/08 at 09:01 PM
B. Matthew, Charlottesville, Va : Dear Madam or Sir: I am writing to support PBS television. My nights would be incomplete without the Jim Lehrer News Hour. Moreover, I recall my ill-placed cynicism (similarly expressed by the NY Times article) when I was an undergraduate. I scoffed at the father of one of my colleagues, also a Professor in our Department, who watched the then McNeill-Lehrer News Hour each evening. Now, fifteen years later, I find myself serving the same role. So, the same, with other programs. As my children, nephews, nieces, God-daughters and others mature to television observing age, I find myself looking for, and finding ONLY on PBS-TV, shows worthy of their viewing. I disagree with the NY times author who wrote “Indeed, public broadcasting came into being out of collective despair over what had become of the airwaves. Cable has changed all that.” Cable has not served as an interchangeable replacement. The shows I survey on Discovery or the History channel are dumbed down, sexed up versions of what science and history truly are. The viewer is duped into a shallower version of what PBS offers, and the viewer (I among them) feel cheated. That is why I return to PBS. Long live NOVA, Ken Burns’ specials, and, yes, Mr. Lehrer on the Jim Lehrer news hour. For those not concerned enough (or bright enough) to enjoy the phenomenal coverage the PBS-TV programs provide, week in and week out, may they get out of the way of the more mature, learned, patient viewers, and let us lead the country.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 08:54 PM
C.Lou : I have never subscribed to cable because the only media I enjoy are PBS, especially Lehrer, NPR, and Netflix. In hotel rooms, when I catch cable, I wonder why folks pay for it.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 08:37 PM
Pamela Koslyn : Yes, of course we still need PBS. Now more than ever, as the celebrity culture saturates our media like it never has before. Unfortunately the networks that get free license from we, the people, to use the airwaves, don’t take their responsibility to serve the public very seriously. Or perhaps, sadly – they give us what we seem to want, and what gets them lots of eyeballs and quick money – Paris, Natalee Holloway, Britney — instead of the quality news we truly need –in depth political and sociological stories, international concerns, etc. For all who champion education for kids, why isn’t the same stress put on education for adults? We’re all much better off with PBS and we shouldn’t even think of de-funding it.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 08:33 PM
Sarah O. : If the NewsHour or Charlie Rose went away that would be a tragedy indeed. The NewsHour is head and shoulders above any of the other news programs both on cable and network television. I would be distressed to have to get my news from CNN. On the bright side, it is good to hear that NPR has increased its listener base.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 08:13 PM
Lin Rimple : I just found out the Jim Leher and Robert MacNeil are both members of the Council of Foreign Affairs. DANG!! For 20 years I have been a supported of PBS and thankful for it’s unbiased reports. Now it is clear that PBS has been bought out just like every other station. I feel betrayed and lied to, yet I shouldn’t be all that surprized. I will still watch some of the programing, because like most educated and concerned Americans, I don’t need the mindless shows and commercials attacking my thoughts. However, Jim and Robert, I’ve lost all respect for both of you. America was founded on freedom, sovereignty, and peace. The Council of Foreign Affairs and the Trilateral Commission are founded on Tyranny, bad company. Just as a side note, I do smile, knowing my favorite anchor, the late Peter Jennings, didn’t sell out. May God rest his soul. Shame on you PBS, Shame on you. Lin Rimple, a free woman.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 07:47 PM
Cameo Joe : PBS is the most dependable source of reliable unbiased news. Their only self-interest is to continue to function as they do. No other media source could provide the same caliber of objectivity, or quality information and entertainment. Most commercial television and radio is noise and advertising. Without access to PBS media I would be lost.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 07:14 PM
mfost : I am a young and idealistic adult and I find that the News Hour offers the most unfiltered, unbiased, and unencumbered news on the market. The reporters are thorough, the stories are exciting, and the commentators are necessary. This news brings the world to my doorstep. Thank you and please keep it up.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 06:36 PM
baby jane : Duh Mr. McGrath …. cable requires a paid subscription and if like where I live that is paid to a monopolistic cable service provider company for non-competitive high prices. I guess Mr. McGrath has not considered the millions of people who can not afford to subscribe to those select channels or the people like myself who have very limited funds available, if any. Consider a child growing up in a household where cable is not affordable or subscribed to. The PBS children’s shows and other creative and or educational shows would be their ONLY resource of quality programming outside of the plethora of sex and violence programming prevalent on network televion. Yes, occasionally there is a quality program or movie shown on network; from my experience it is the exception rather than the usual. The day to day effect is large amounts of sex, violence, game shows etc. I am speaking from personal experience here. I have recently been without cable service for many months. perhaps even a year or two. The effect is brain deadening, and worse for me as an adult. I am mortified to consider the effect on children. I have in the past week or so been able to re-connect cable service. However I would not be able to afford to do so on my income which for now is a monthly Social Security check. I am planning to pay the cable bill with some of the funds I now have available from the recent sale of a 2007 customized Chevy Tahoe that I won last July in an online sweepstakes. Otherwise I would not have the cable service. The odds were 50,000 to 1 in winning so having it on is a rarity here. Does Mr McGrath think these alternative programs flow int people’s homes like tap water? Is he on the New York Times payroll as a journalist or columist? If so he seems to be lacking in understanding experiences outside his own realm of life. Perhaps I should be on the New York Times payroll instead as I understand that there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamed of in many peoples philosophy. I chose a path of following my inspiration as a creative original non commercial visual artist many years ago … Have had several jobs over the past 3 decades or so, such as library assistant at a University Law School, “governess”, nanny, babysitter and many others. During those times I sometimes had cable service, sometimes did not. PBS was about all I could watch when cable not on. Cable service is a luxury, Mr. McGrath that many people can not afford. Excuse me, but Duh … It is in the public interest that quality programming is available to all citizens and ridiculous to think that this can be left to monopolistic companies charging high prices.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 06:25 PM
Josef Tucker : TV without PBS (and Radio without NPR) would be a bleak broadcasting landscape indeed. I cannot image surviving a day stuck in a world without our collective refuge from the deluge of ads and hype that commercial stations blind us with. The thoughtful and thorough programming on PBS and NPR, news and entertainment alike, is a national treasure and should be defended as such.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 05:17 PM
PHILIP ZIMMERMAN : MY WIFE AND I WATCH THE NEWSHOUR EVERY DAY. WE HAVE A CABLE SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS US TO REACH THE NEWS ON ANY NETWORK OR THE THREE LEADING ALL DAY NEWS STATIONS BUT PREFER THE NEWS IN MORE DEPTH AND PRESENTED IN AN UNBIASED WAY. WE FIND THE CORRESPONDENTS AND MARK SHIELDS AND DAVID BROOD ON THE NEWSHOUR TO BE PROFESSIONAL AND UNDERSTANDABLE. WE WOULD BE VERY UNHAPPY IF THE NEWSHOUR LEFT PBS.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 04:51 PM
Del J. : News Hour is my favorite news.. Never miss it. The big picture segments are the very best I’ve seen anywhere. I specially like Brooks and Shields on Fridays or anytime I know they are on. The reporters I would name them but I may miss one, Ifle. Warner. Brown and Suarez they are the best in their field. I feel like we’re all first cousins or something. just family. I like that you cover the subject fair and not bias not just 30 second spot to imply one thing or another. Thank you for all you do and do so well.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 03:26 PM
ruth : Broadcast and commercial TV ignores the unpopular demographic (over 49). The government should support programs catering to this age group. In a democratic society all groups should be served. This is why PBS is so critical.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 03:15 PM
maria bittinger : News Hours gives a unique and refreshing look at what is happening in the USA and the world. There is true journalism on display and viewers are rewarded with an unbiased report and one that does not pander to the scandal du jour. PBS offers programing no one else does in the arts, education, science, commentary and history. The cable channels that at one time carried good cultural fare have turned to reality TV and no where else do you get an in depth look at current issues facing us.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 03:01 PM
Judy Harrison : PBS is still necessary in today’s United States- perhaps more than ever. An elementary requisite of democracy is an educated electorate. As ordinary citizens are bedraggled by the demands of family and career, radio, television and the Internet are the main sources of news for most. Many of these venues have been corrupted by a particular political point of view or by a need to elevate profit over substance. PBS is my available, reliable, and truthful source of information. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Posted: 02/27/08 at 03:00 PM
CHARLES F GOTTER : Is PBS necessary? How about NPR? It is what the national networks can only dream of and we watch & listen. PBS gives you another view without dollar signs attached. I also listen to Talk Radio for their views and often agree but Talk Radio would take away the Federal CPB pittance & give the savings to George Soros and Bill Gates as tax rebates. I like the comment of having a check off box on our taxes. I might actually check one!

Posted: 02/27/08 at 02:56 PM
Marianne Lane : PBS is Vital if one desires QUALITY programs. My favorites are Jim Lehrer News, Masterpiece Theatre, Cahrlie Rose, Brit.News, Musical specials etc etc and I faithfully financially supportPBS.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 12:40 PM
Robert E Crysler : In my view PBS and CSPAN are national media treasures. Any sincere debate as to their value is welcome as it is probable to brighten the already and well earned favorable light. Keep up the great work all. Robert E. Crysler

Posted: 02/27/08 at 11:31 AM
Judith Abate : The only news program on TV that isn’t biased and makes an attempt to give information on both sides of issues is the Newshour. Also it provides background information and not sound bites about whatever topic is being discussed. Not to mention the quality artistic programs like Masterpiece. I often watch them several times because the network stations and other cable stations are filled with mediocre programing and reruns of same. Thank God for PBS.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 11:05 AM
Donald B. Christie : If you are still counting, I’d like to add my voice to those supporting Jim Lehrer and the Newshour. There is no other newscast on TV that compares to the depth and breadth of its reporting. The time of day when it is broadcast in perfect. I am in the older generation, but for those younger who don’t watch it, that is their loss.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 10:26 AM
Jim Barker : My wife and I cannot imagine not having The News Hour and other PBS programs, including those on NPR. We start the day with Morning Edition, then All Things Considered, and finally The News Hour. Frontline and The American Experience frequemtly entertain and offer insights which leave lasting impressions. On Friday, we put aside other engagements to be able to watch Washington Week in Review and the rest of the programs broadcast that evening via WETA in Washington. We can only repeat what so many have already said, that the professionalism and in-depth reporting provides us with invaluable input as we try to understand issues. It is so good that The News Hour assembles experts who can calmly and thoughtfully present their opposing view points. I have often thought that those representing the adminstration’s position on The News Hour were far superior to the president himself. He detracts from those in his administration who can express a more reasoned position than his simplistic, and frequently wishful, statements. Finally, we especially look forward to the discussions between David Brooks and Mark Shields and the occasional analysis by the panel of historians. It is essential that PBS and NPR should continue to receive federal support to augment contributions from its audience. Thanks to all that work so hard to continue the good work that you do. Jim & Liz Barker

Posted: 02/27/08 at 09:55 AM
Steve Helmer : I was going to leave it to the hundreds of others who have written supporting PBS. But then this week, I’ve been reminded of just how much it means to me. The NewsHour, Charlie Rose, and Tavis are a regular part of my day (the last two recorded and seen tomorrow). They are ALWAYS solid, timely, insightful–keep me in touch with my world. And now and then, there is a single program that is just luminous, draws you so close into the realities of an issue or news story, is so rich, and intimate and tellling. The Charlie Rose segment on Pakistan and France this week was this way. Breath taking. Vital. Could I do without this? Could I get it anywhere else. NO and NO! Is this “musty” and dated. Come on! This week I also bumped into a “sometimes” that was so fascinating it hooked me again–American Experience. The double feature Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley were superb Americana. Again, I’d never see it anywhere else. (Ditto the recent “Mormons”). Frontline, is another favourite, NOW, Bill Moyers Journal. PLUS all the world class kids programing (which I acutally do sample now and then) and is a huge investment in our kids and our future. Mystery and Masterpiece have been long time favorites (a little less time for them of late). Just where do I start counting the “tired,” musty, “Ho, Hum. I can do without this” stuff. I’m not sure where the NYTimes is lookng. PBS is alive, vital to my understanding my world, relvant, fresh, “today. Things would be vastly different without it, vastly worse, poorer, less informed. God forbid we let it be lost. May we have the wisdom and courage to choose quality and deeply valuable programming over “the alternative”.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 08:52 AM
Tim McNeely : The idea of living without the objective and in depth look at the world I get from PBS is scary. NBR, News Hour, Now, Gwens show, Red Green, to name a few. I love it. We would all be the losers if the News Hour was to to hatcheted.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 03:18 AM
Guy : yes no doubts about it. terrific US news ,great team ,time to plan for the future team not to end it.

Posted: 02/27/08 at 02:04 AM
S.D. Forte : Dear PBS, Yes, PBS is very necessary, especially to those of us who cannot afford cable/satellite TV. I particularly value Jim Lehrer’s Newshour, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Washington Week, Bill Moyers’ Journal, and the documentaries of Ken Burns. These programs have been an education for me beyond anything I ever got out of school (1 thru 12 + other , specialized classes.). They should be required as homework assignments. (See, history’s not as boring as you thought! Isn’t it amazing what people have gone through to produce this relatively safe, secure, and productive country we live in, with apologies to Chiefs Joseph, Sitting Bull, and all your people, who lost so much! And to Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver who gave so much to this country in spite of the hard, sad lives led by those from whom they came. And, of course, apologies to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave his all that black people would finally be judged, “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!”) And, finally, for the purposes of this message, thanks for “American Masters” and its homage to those people who excel at moving us emotionally, or who through their mastery of other arts and sciences, have moved us forward. There ought to be an American Masters program devoted to those whose vision keeps the ship of PBS on its course of excellence in telecasting. Thank you, PBS! May your “enterprise” continue to “boldly go where no one has gone, before!” Sincerely, Dave Forte Wetumpka, AL

Posted: 02/26/08 at 09:03 PM
Elizabeth Swaim : Life without PBS would be so dull. They have the original voice in reporting, and besides that they have so many great shows. How can I describe something that is apart of my life? Please, oh please keep PBS. Thank you, E.O.Swaim

Posted: 02/26/08 at 08:26 PM
Richard : Say it ain’t so Jim. The newshour is the best, say again, the best TV current affairs program on television. For information on the American condition nothing beats it.

Posted: 02/26/08 at 08:14 PM
Joann : I can’t imagine television without PBS. Even though I have the ability to view hundreds of channels, PBS is in my top five. I can not tolerate the “regular” news on CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC, or CNN. On the rare occasions when I happen to catch a glimpse of one those stations with the remote, I wonder if I am viewing a real journalist or an actor? Does anyone watch commercial TV? Why bother?

Posted: 02/26/08 at 07:44 PM
R H Rice : While reading the NYT article, I reflected on the PBS programs I like best: News Hour, Now, Bill Moyers Journal, Frontline, Masterpiece, Mystery, Washingtom Week, McGloughlin Group, etc. I am happy to make an annual contribution to help such programs continue. Contrary to the NYT article, I do not find the equivalent or much else worth watching on cable. As a consequence, and despite trying to find worthwhile programs on it on numerous occasions, I do not subscribe to cable. With few exceptions, the news programs not on PBS are drivel or slanted. One point raised in the article that seems emphasizing is the desirability of increasing federal finding for PBS instead of continuing the decline. Yes, indeed, we need PBS!

Posted: 02/26/08 at 07:43 PM
Peter HEWITT : I live in Perth in the state of Western Australia. Perth has the distinction of being one of the remotest State Capitals in the world. As such its denizins must lay out big dollars to travel, even to it’s closest neigbour (state capital). As you can imagine people of Perth rely enormousely on the reciept of information via the TV/Internet for up to date, in depth and comprehensive information. I have relied on The News Hour for this information for a very long time – 10+ years. In all that time I have never been let down. I find the service provided, even when I disagree with slant on many issues’ is fair, unbiased, challenging whilst remaining calm and well presented. I wish PBS and The News Hour success in their efforts to show their detractors that Public Broadcasting is necessary, important and of great value in the world in which we now live. PeterH…

Posted: 02/26/08 at 05:52 PM
Siobhan : I’m glad to join in the chorus of support for the News Hour. (I mostly listen to the program on the radio, as I don’t have a TV.) I think the show puts other news programs to shame by covering salient topics in depth. The reporters are professional & exhibit a sense of humor without coming across as the fakes that one hears all the time on popular talk radio shows. Mr. Lehrer, I enjoy you SO much! Thank you all for a wonderful show. By the strong support you are getting from your viewers you KNOW that PBS is relevant. Don’t ever leave us!

Posted: 02/26/08 at 05:33 PM
G.H. Lewis : Our friends of the NeoCon persuasion want to advance the perception that any news outlet who endeavors to be fair and/or unbiased (i.e., give both sides of an issue) is a tool of the Liberal Media and should be silenced. Should federal funding be withdrawn for PBS? No way! PBS clearly does its best to allow qualified pundits the airtime to offer different “sides” to controversial issues. NeoCons will continue to sound off. Let’s continue to be respectful.

Posted: 02/26/08 at 04:34 PM
Abbie Stewart : I am a life-long viewer of KQED (I’m 64) and a member for years. I cannot imagine TV programming without PBS. Where to begin? The news: I’ve been viewing long enough to still call it The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour and it’s by far, the most thoughtful and unbiased news hour on, along with the BBC – containing actual discussion and examination of issues instead of pandering to emotions in five second spots. I trust their reporting and look forward to hearing the views of Shields and Brooks. I am put off and profoundly disappointed by ignorance of journalistc standards when so-called “news reporting” by some talking heads includes their own unnecessary, lame and subjective comments. Some ask questions of reporters so laden in tone as to dramatically reveal their bias and color the response. CNN and MSNBC are so loud in presentation and garish in tone, with the unnecessary and ever-present crawls as to Hollywoodize the news. The Arts: Masterpiece Theater. Need one say more? Nova, Frontline, Now, etc, etc. I agree with many of the contributors above, that the question the Times raised actually reflects more about the Times than the question itself. With their latest article on John McCain and now this, I have lost any respect I had for the Times and it will be hard to regain, if ever possible. The Times is very out-of-touch to be so ignorant of the critical ingredient PBS is in a successful democracy. But then, it’s a big Corporation, isn’t it? We need MORE PBS, not less!

Posted: 02/26/08 at 04:16 PM
Rochelle Cavalli : If PBS is not necessary, why do I still watch PBS 90% of my viewing time. I pay for cable and HBO and until recently I paid for Cinamax. Until I realized I never watch Cinamax- and dropped it. My husband and I would be lost without PBS it is the best thing on TV. The News Hour – the Sunday morning news shows, Bill Moyers, Frontline and Charlie Rose. Then we watch Antique Road Show, Nature, This Old House and the Norm Abrams shows, the cooking shows, and Mystery. It is most defenitely necessary. Rochelle Cavalli Please keep it on – we love it. Thank you

Posted: 02/26/08 at 04:08 PM
JeanK. : The NY Times article was ridiculous and I say this as a devoted NYT reader. First of all, PBS is free, cable is not. Even if it were not free, I would pay to get the NewsHour. It’s the only program with a thorough, factual account of news on a daily basis. Cable does not offer an equivalent program. Other PBS programs without cable equals are NOW, Bill Moyer’s Journal, Independent Lens, FrontLine, Masterpiece, and works by Ken Burns. Without these programs I would be very unhappy and that’s why I support my local PBS station. The Times should find a reviewer with more common sense. Yes, public televion is necessary.

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