NPR apologizes for “dark continent,” but should it?

NPR apologized to listeners Feb. 16 after newscaster Jean Cochran referred to Africa as “the dark continent” in a newscast. “This is simply an outdated reference as well as being outrageously offensive,” said one of many listeners who complained. But the apology in turn drew criticism accusing NPR of hypersensitivity. Should the network have apologized?

Pubradio merger fizzles in California

KAZU-FM in Pacific Grove, Calif., will remain under control of California State University Monterey Bay, the board of the school’s Foundation decided yesterday. (Coverage in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and a university press release (PDF).) The decision ended a year of formal negotiations over a merger of the station and KUSP, a nearby pubradio outlet that airs some of the same programs as KAZU. “I’m sorry the university has chosen to go it alone, and pass on this opportunity for us to work together to serve the public,” said Terry Green, KUSP’s g.m., in a press release (PDF).

Post-IMA ruminations lean negative

This year’s recently concluded Integrated Media Association conference has inspired some pessimism among pubcasters keen on new media. John Proffitt of Alaska Public Telecommunications wrote on his blog: “In my (current) view, IMA appears to be at an impasse. We seem to have reached a point where integrated media advocacy has given out, where recommendations and demonstrations fail to move our organizations to meaningful action.” Responding on his own blog, independent producer Stephen Hill foresaw a bleak future for public radio and added: “After six or seven years of trying to push the river, I’ve regretfully come to believe that the forces that control the legacy public media system — both public television and public radio — are simply too entrenched, too torpid, too scared, and too innovation-phobic to respond meaningfully to the challenges of the digital era.”

Excuse me, what is that music you play when you read the stock figures?

While WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein is tutoring journalists in Bhutan (earlier item), Marketplace reporter Lisa Napoli has a Bhutanese radio producer shadowing her while she subs as morning host for the APM business newscast. Her guest is Ngawang Pem, 25, a deejay and producer from the youth-oriented Kuzoo FM, first nongovernment station in Bhutan, which is adopting democratic forms under a limited monarchy and installing a new, young king. Napoli has volunteered her help on two trips since Kuzoo launched last year.

Her students: journalists covering a new democracy

Andrea Bernstein, political director at WNYC Radio in New York, is in Bhutan this week, taking a break from U.S. campaigns to train 43 reporters — twice as many as expected — for coverage of the Himalayan country’s first legislative elections, set for March 24. She was invited by Kinley Dorji, who founded the country’s first newspaper with a Mac in the 1980s. She’s reporting back in her blog.

Wear a sweater for Mr. Rogers

In honor of Fred Rogers on what would have been his 80th birthday, Mr. McFeely announced that March 20 will be sweater day in the Pittsburgh metro area. In a YouTube video produced by the Beaver County Times, McFeely (David Newell) urges fans everywhere to wear a favorite sweater to cap off “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” Days events and activities, March 15-20. The celebrations are hosted by WQED and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood production company Family Communications, Inc., who brought the show to PBS 40 years ago. 

NPR’s Folkenflik: from print to radio

“Joining NPR from the world of print was a bit like entering the Marine Corps at Parris Island,” says NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik in an interview with Chip Scanlan on “You’re completely stripped down and then built back up.” Folkenflick talks about his transition to radio reporting, how he puts a story together, and how NPR’s reputation is different than newspapers’. It’s a “gratifying shift,” he says, to hear not what’s wrong about the newspaper he works for, but what’s right about NPR.

Starr: McCain’s people never talked to me

Various participants in a 1990s Pittsburgh station swap proposal weighed in last week on the nature of Sen. John McCain’s involvement in the deal, which has received new scrutiny in light of questions raised by the New York Times about the GOP presidential candidate’s dealings with a communications lobbyist. Now Jerrold Starr, a sociologist and activist who opposed proposed Pittsburgh deal, refutes McCain’s recent claims that the senator’s staff also met with advocates who were against the proposed sell-off. “It never happened,” he told ABC News. Any lobbying “would have come through us,” said Linda Wambaugh, Starr’s co-chair on the so-called Save Pittsburgh Public Television Campaign. “There was absolutely no contact whatsoever — no meetings, no phone calls, no correspondence.”