chapter  Chapter Four
21 Pages

The Content of Public Television: A Case Study of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour

ByWilliam Hoynes

Since the initial release of the Carnegie Commission report in 1967, supporters of noncommercial television have argued that news and public affairs programming are essential components of a public television system. In the 1990s, with the news divisions at the three major television networks bearing the brunt of increased economic pressures, public television's commitment to the production of public affairs programming became even more important. One problem is that public television's regular public affairs programs provide a narrow view of the world. The traditional notion held by journalists in both commercial and public broadcasting about who and what is news also serves as an important constraint. The chapter deals with the general hypothesis that news on public television will exhibit certain differences from network news. Since both the scholarly literature and public television's own goals focus on the issue of content diversity, it will be useful to frame our hypotheses around this issue.