NPR’s coverage of itself deemed “excessive”

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When NPR’s Tovia Smith reported on March 24 about her network’s record-setting audience growth, the coverage made “a few folks inside NPR” uncomfortable,” reports Ombudsman Alicia Shepard in her latest column. Smith filed stories for NPR newscasts and for All Things Considered about dramatic growth of NPR’s audience last fall, and she included details about NPR’s recent financial troubles. To some NPR insiders it “sounded like an appeal for money,” especially as it aired while some stations were running pledge drives, Shepard wrote. NPR Managing Editor Brian Duffy explained the assignment in an email: “My thinking was that NPR does a very good job of being transparent about the bad news–layoffs, cutting shows,” he wrote. “I felt it was appropriate to report on the good, as well, but insisted that it be couched in the context of . . . the continuing financial challenges we face.” Shepard said the combination of a 2-minute ATC piece and newscasts airing throughout the day was “excessive.”