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Bill Moyers Touches on Civic Journalism’s Essence

Bill Moyers, in a recent speech where he defends his stint at PBS’s Now, talks for one short period about what is the heart of public journalism, without mentioning the words “public or civic journalism.” He says:

I had been deeply impressed by studies published in two leading peer-reviewed scholarly journals by a team of researchers led by Vassar College’s William Hoynes. Their extensive research on the content of public television over a decade found that political discussions on our public affairs programs generally included a limited set of voices that offer a narrow range of perspectives on current issues and events. Instead of far-ranging discussions, the kind that might engage viewers as citizens and not simply as audiences, this research found that public affairs programs on PBS stations were populated by the standard set of elite news sources, with government officials and Washington journalists talking about political strategy, or corporate sources talking about stock prices or the economy from the investors’ viewpoint. Voices outside the corporate Wall Street universe, nonprofessional workers, labor representatives, consumer advocates and the general public were rarely heard.

In sum, these two studies concluded that the economic coverage was so narrow that the views and the activities of most citizens became irrelevant.

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