Examining NPR

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It’s always an interesting challenge when media reporters are forced to report on the organizations they work for. That role has fallen many times over the years to NPR’s David Folkenflik.

Following the recent departure of three women of color, as hosts for NPR’s main news programs, the network faced criticism internally about how it handles recruitment and pay equity. Some of the internal griping has spilled out into the public sphere.

Folkenflik’s look at the controversy reads in part like a chronicle of First World problems, but at the same time it reveals the outside pressures forcing NPR to compete with for profit news organizations seeking top talent to grow their podcasting businesses.

Folkenflik writes:

“While NPR’s news magazines define the network for tens of millions of listeners, NPR now derives more sponsorship revenue from podcasts than those news shows. And the audiences for the podcasts are markedly younger and more diverse.”

The saddest part of the Folkenflik story is the editorial need to identify everyone mentioned or quoted in the story by race. This frame tends to put people in camps and suggests motives that may or may not be present.

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