For years, KPBS-FM and TV, the public broadcasting arms of San Diego State University, have been extremely deferential in handling interviews with city officials; the university is dependent on the City’s goodwill for getting an array of planning and development approvals. It also relies on hefty contributions from corporations with close ties to the city hall establishment. Other media outlets, including the Union-Tribune and local web news sites, whose reporters and editors regularly appear on KPBS, have ignored the lapses. But the advent of the internet now allows listeners to air their complaints on the stations’ website, the most cogent case in point being last week’s interview with San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders.
“It is a pity there were no editors or political reporters interviewing Mayor Jerry Sanders this morning instead of the pleasant and mellifluous-voiced Maureen Cavanaugh, who gave away half-an-hour of air time without a single hard question to a politician,” wrote a commenter named Frankie. “This is not public service broadcasting.”
Added Frankie: “Sanders was allowed to promote four huge trophy building projects he and his backers support — a Chargers stadium, a Central Library, a new City Administration Complex, another Convention Center expansion — without a single query about the financing or other possible uses for the money these projects will suck up. He was unchallenged in supporting a permanent change in the City Charter establishing San Diego’s ‘Strong Mayor’ — a drastic measure on our June 8 ballots which is opposed by both the respected League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club.…
“One week after your fund-raising campaign, I would hope you’d be figuring out how to do more with less. That would include not giving free-passes to politicians who are supposed to be held accountable by the media so that the listening public can be better informed.”