Former NPR President Vivian Schiller told the Associated Press today (March 10) that her staying on as network chief executive would have complicated the federal funding battle. “We took a reputational hit around the Juan Williams incident, and this was another blow to NPR’s reputation,” she said, referring to this week’s NPR video sting. “There’s no question.”
Howard Liberman, a communications attorney who represents several NPR affiliates, told the AP that many stations were unhappy with Schiller and the release of the video was just the final straw. In addition to firing Williams, Schiller shortened the organization’s name from National Public Radio to NPR (predicting that broadcasting towers would be gone within a decade) and attempted to push listeners toward the NPR.org website. “This was just the last in a series of things that have shown to the members and the stations that this ship is not running very well,” Liberman said.
Liberman’s AP comments are ludicrous. He conveniently forgets that his former employer, the American Broadcasting Company, became ABC without killing off its stations. And if he doesn’t understand the importance of a digital platform as part of a modern multimedia company’s offerings, his clients should worry about his knowledge. NPR and public radio stations have always been a day late and a dollar short in media relevance and the changes he bemoans were long overdue. But let’s hope that Liberman’s remarks were just a thoughtless attempt to garner some personal publicity off an unfortunate network situation that might cost his clients their funding and possibly their survival.