Sunday, July 17, 2011

The demise of NJN

I was too hard on public broadcasting in my Pawn Stars post. In that post I mentioned that nothing cool could ever come from public broadcasting. It is only now that I admit that was a lie. Just an excuse for a cheap gag. In actuality, I'm a fan of public broadcasting. I'll be the first to admit that a state network is important. This, however, is one opinion that New Jersey and I differ on. On June 30, the New Jersey Network, which has been in operation since 1971, ceased operation.

Gone, and probably will be forgotten in a few years.

In the state's herculean task to cut spending, NJN was offered up as a sacrifice. But really, public broadcasting can't cost that much. Yes, the state is footing the bill a bit, but the bill is worth it. Is the state really scrounging for every nickle and dime it can like a teenager rummaging through couch cushions? Being an affiliate with PBS, the public helped pay for NJN. And if the public is helping pay for it, that should be cause enough to try and keep it.

We're only constantly reminded that before and after every program.

With the doors of NJN closing, that meant 130 people lost their jobs. Gov. Chris Christie may see this as a sacrifice to the greater good of the state, but at the end of the day it's just 130 people unemployed. This isn't like Christie's attempt at cutting the budgetary fat in education (which I also had problems with), this is the termination of an institution that was there long before Christie came around.

Christie's governorship is the fuel for many a family's dinner table debate.

Public broadcasting should fall under the public trust doctrine. Each state's network is for the benefit of that public and is tailor made for each state's demographic. The programming helps retain the state's identity. Of all states, Jersey needs to keep this alive. We're a state brimming with character and charm. And while we're being caricatured on MTV and every other Jersey-bandwagon jumping show, there needs to be a place on television reserved for a more respectful view of the Garden State. But to base New Jersey-centric television in New York, like the plan is now, is completely disrespectful.

NJN lets you look at Jersey past each Exit ramp.

NJN will live on somehow. It was an institution that has been around for 40 years. There's a legacy in there. Every movie-day in science class taken from a teacher's worn out VHS tape, NJN'll be there. Every recorded episode of Nova, NJN'll be there. Ever time a New Jersey child hugs their Elmo doll, NJN'll be there. And every pledge-drive tote bag being used by an old lady when she's grocery shopping, NJN'll be there too.

Now if you'll excuse me, Breaking Bad premieres tonight and I need to get properly pumped up.

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