Is NPR’s “complete lack of a strategy to save itself” in the current crisis what’s actually doing the most damage to the network? Media analyst Howard Kurtz explores that possibility for Newsweek today (Sunday March 20). He said that NPR staffers flown in for a recent meeting in Washington “groaned when executives said it would be too risky for them to aggressively defend NPR, and that perhaps they should get media training for Joyce Slocum, who took over on an interim basis after the firing of CEO Vivian Schiller” (Current, March 9).
This American Life host Ira Glass also criticized NPR’s reaction — or, rather, the lack of it. “Public radio is being hit with a barrage of criticism that it’s left-wing media — biased, reprehensible — and we’re doing nothing to stand up for our brand,” he said. “They’re not responding like a multimedia organization that’s actually growing and superpopular.”
One bit of good news from Patrick Butler, head of the Association of Public Television Stations and its new offshoot partnership with NPR, the Public Media Association. Butler said he is “encouraged by the fact that our friends are still our friends” in Congress, adding, “people are not deserting me in droves as I might have feared.”
Great. No friends lost. Test of a true fight?
Trust me, many in the public media sector groan every time a new “strategy,” or lack thereof, is unveiled.
Glass is correct: NPR and Public Media are built for just this kind of fight – and there’s nothing to keep them from getting bloody. No precedent to say its unethical to defend ones own org, to *ahem* fulfill its mission to educate the public, regardless of their political leaning.