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(52,062 posts)
Tue Apr 16, 2024, 03:02 PM Apr 16

The Real Story Behind NPR's Current Problems


No paywall link

NPR, the great bastion of old-school audio journalism, is a mess. But as someone who loves NPR, built my career there, and once aspired to stay forever, I say with sadness that it has been for a long time.

This might be news to those who tune out the circular firing squad of institutional media whiners. But my former NPR colleague Uri Berliner, one of the organization’s (as of now) senior editors, set off a firestorm by publishing a commentary that essentially blamed “wokeness” and Democratic partisanship for the apparent loss of confidence in the once-unimpeachable institution. (This morning, news broke that Uri has been suspended by NPR for violating a policy about “outside work,” and informed that he’d be fired for any more infractions.) The essay, published by Bari Weiss’ the Free Press, blew up certain corners of X and various Facebook feeds, and was gleefully lapped up by conservatives who’ve been fighting to defund NPR and public broadcasting for a generation.

It was a longtime fear at NPR that some scandal or mess that the network had hoped to contain within its headquarters, lovingly referred to as the “mother ship” by nippers and ex-nippers everywhere, would find its way to the outside world, where the organization’s very real, powerful enemies could exploit it. In fact, this is happening right now; Christopher Rufo, a conservative writer and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has launched a campaign against NPR’s new CEO Katherine Maher, accusing her of liberal bias based on old tweets. Those kinds of threats reinforce an in-the-trenches camaraderie at NPR. It has also been used to quash internal criticism. I guess Uri’s piece proves that that strategy doesn’t work anymore.

Uri started at NPR in 1999. I started in 1997 in the audience research department as an administrative assistant. Because I was what we called “a back-seat baby,” someone who’d grown up being force-fed a steady diet of NPR from car radios and in the home by crunchy granola parents, I had spent the past several months before my college graduation searching the organization’s rudimentary website, desperate to find anything that I was qualified to do. A year later, I maneuvered into the news division as the editorial assistant to senior correspondent Daniel Schorr and one of the “Murrow Boys,” protégés of CBS Radio legend and Good Night, and Good Luck hero Edward R. Murrow.


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The Real Story Behind NPR's Current Problems (Original Post) Nevilledog Apr 16 OP
KnR Hekate Apr 16 #1
👀 underpants Apr 16 #2
That was very long read .....for an opinion piece. I personally like NPR and walkingman Apr 16 #3
NPR hasn't had a leftward bias since at least the late 90's. Nt Fiendish Thingy Apr 16 #4
You are exactly right. The late 90's saw a shift to the right. Greybnk48 Apr 16 #6
the word incestuous comes to mind. mopinko Apr 16 #5
NPR has leaned right to far right for over 20 years nakocal Apr 16 #7


(7,977 posts)
3. That was very long read .....for an opinion piece. I personally like NPR and
Tue Apr 16, 2024, 03:16 PM
Apr 16

the complaints described seem like internal issues that don't seem to affect their programming...to me.


(10,249 posts)
6. You are exactly right. The late 90's saw a shift to the right.
Tue Apr 16, 2024, 04:57 PM
Apr 16

I remember being really pissed about administrative changes that occurred, with a know right winger put in a position of power.
I stopped supporting NPR annually financially then and sent it all to Wisconsin Public Radio.


(70,892 posts)
5. the word incestuous comes to mind.
Tue Apr 16, 2024, 04:44 PM
Apr 16

as a long time listener, i think it turned when st ronnie stuffed the board w cons for ‘balance’. it wasn’t long before language started softening. it’s been a long, slow slide ever since.
there were more than a few personalities i found arrogant. i’m guessing they were the handsy ones.

i still love my local station, wbez. i mostly only listen in the car these days, when it’s local programming.
if it’s network, i’ll listen to almost anything else.


(595 posts)
7. NPR has leaned right to far right for over 20 years
Tue Apr 16, 2024, 05:16 PM
Apr 16

60% or more of their guests are republican. They take millions from right wing corporations like Lockheed Martin and the Koch Industries.

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