It appears that NPR is smarting from charges that it has given the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City and elsewhere short shrift when it comes to coverage of the demonstrations. We’ve noticed some discontent in this area, and so has NPR’s ombudsman in his latest post, citing one complaint from a listener in Nebraska:
I hear that NPR has decided NOT to cover the demonstrations involving Wall Street. Is this because NPR gets most of its donation support from Wall Street? If so, then I’ll just stop donating as I have done for the past 35 years.
To which NPR’s Edward Schumacher-Matos responds: "The protests are a lead story tonight (10/03) on All Things Considered and have gotten more play than many critics seem to realize," he writes. "I agree with editors that the lack of a clear purpose for the protests make it a hard story to give importance to. . . . The coverage seems about appropriate to me."
Schumacher-Matos’ post offers a list of NPR pieces on Occupied Wall Street. Looks like the service is stepping up its coverage, especially over the last few days.
I’ve been looking around for where you can find steady and reliable radio coverage of the demonstrations. Democracy Now has certainly been doing lots of stories. So has Free Speech Radio News. There’s a Livestream video link too.
But beyond that I haven’t been able to find anything that offers continuous audio coverage of Occupied WS. If you’ve got something going, let me know.
Meanwhile, NPR has a new CEO: Gary Knell, President of the Sesame Workshop.
"I’m thrilled to join NPR," Knell declares in the NPR press release. "Over the past 40 years, it’s grown from an inspired idea to one of the world’s most respected and leading providers of news, music and cultural programming."
One of the biggest problems Knell faces is how to handle a Republican dominated House of Representatives implacably hostile to continued federal funding for the service. On September 29 the House Appropriations Committee released yet another budget proposal that denies NPR Corporation for Public Broadcasting money. NPR receives a small portion of direct financial help from the CPB, but NPR stations more heavily depend on it for support.
Here’s the New York Times‘ spin on the challenge.
NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio, has the benefit of tens of millions of devoted weekly listeners and a robust Web presence. But it is threatened by, among other things, the prospect of funding cuts, power struggles between the organization and its member stations across the country, and the perception that some of its programming has a liberal political bent.
To which NPR critic and journalism professor Jay Rosen replies:
Can you be “threatened” by a “perception?” I guess maybe you can. But if you can, then I would say that NPR is equally threatened by 1.) the perception that it can be rolled or intimidated, especially after forcing its last CEO to resign in part because right wing trickster James O’Keefe pulled a culture war stunt that worked, and 2.) the perception that it’s increasingly a he said, she said, “safety first” news organization that tends to quote both sides and leave it there.
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