Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NPR Falls On Its Sword

Doesn't Shy Away From Talking Publicly About Layoffs of 7 Percent of Its Staff

The economy claimed its latest media victim today: NPR said it would cut 7 percent of its staff and eliminate "Day To Day" and "News & Notes" because its underwriting has been underwhelming.
This is not a panic move. NPR says it needs to close a $23 million budget shortfall.
So far, it looks like the network's biggest names have been spared, though a poster at FishbowlDC says veteran correspondent Ketzel Levine is among those leaving. She won't be the last.
Props to NPR for not being shy to tell us about what's happening. That included a report on "All Things Considered" this afternoon from media correspondent David Folkenflik.
Given that NPR's listeners are often very possessive of the programs they support, this kind of public bloodletting is not unexpected. Let's hope the seams aren't apparent on those programs that remain.
I, for one, fervently hope that NPR doesn't use the downturn as an excuse to pare back its foreign coverage, already much more extensive than any U.S. broadcaster. In an age when international news is barely an afterthought on most networks, NPR has correspondents based in such places as Kabul, Dakar, New Delhi and Hanoi, in addition to the usual outposts.
"All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition" are incalculably richer for being able to tap into that motherlode. So are we for being able to listen to them.

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