Forget the drinking-the-Kool-Aid joke. We're working with NPR on something important
Nov. 13, 2009
To the editors:
I have just completed two terms, a total of six years, on the NPR Board. It's been a ride. Here are a couple of observations I take with me:
Station managers, as many as possible during their careers, should consider running for and serving on the board. For years, the punchline of the joke about serving on the board was "He/she got elected and drank the NPR Kool-Aid" — i.e., lost touch with the interests of individual member stations in favor of the (sometimes competing) interests of NPR.
I hope we're past that joke. While there is certainly still push and pull between those inside and outside the Beltway, the role of public media in the life of our American democracy is too important for us to squander energy on turf or fiefdom wars. There is too much to do by way of serving the American public.
NPR has in place important new leaders, with Vivian Schiller at the front. It's a new generation that thinks about radio and its integration with other platforms as a way to deliver the country's best journalism.
NPR is serious about working with stations — on developing local and regional journalists, on developing new and collaborative funding sources, on bringing more diverse voices to the air and the Web, on teasing out the knots in the multiplatform network we all know we have to create . . . for the public we serve.
I ran for the board seven years ago because I was angry at NPR — for what it was and wasn't doing on the air and online, for what it wasn't doing for an increasingly diverse American public, and for its seemingly cavalier neglect of small and rural stations. As I leave the Board, I see an NPR staffed by people of good faith and hard work who are not afraid to admit that there are still imperfections but who welcome the opportunity to make it better.
You can be part of the process. If you're dissatisfied — or downright angry as I was — put your name in the hat. We all need each other.
Station Manager, North Country Public Radio
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