People (read: online commenters) ask NPR’s Code Switch team all the time: “Why do you guys make everything about race?”
Alicia Montgomery, supervising senior producer for Code Switch, sees that question and scratches her head.
“I wonder if these are the same people who read the sports section and say, ‘Why is everything in here about a game that was played?’”, she told me on The Pub.
Since its founding in 2013, NPR’s unit covering “news from the frontiers of race, ethnicity and culture” has been a prime target of internet trolls alleging bias, perhaps in part because Code Switch stories are so different from other NPR content.
While a user browsing NPR.org would mostly encounter straight reportage, Code Switch pieces are generally written in a style more associated with commentary sites, like Salon.com (where Montgomery used to work).
In digital-native media like Salon, Montgomery said, “part of the story is telling people where you stand in the story. And I think if we’re going to have revealing and interesting conversations about race and identity, it’s important that we own where we stand in relation to the story.”
This week on The Pub, Montgomery talks about the long-anticipated new Code Switch podcast, responds to criticisms of her unit from both the right and left, and gives her take on NPR’s broader efforts to sound less uniformly like, well, white guys like me.
Also on the show, I beg public media to stop referring to the podcasting market as the podcasting “space,” and three of public radio’s most exciting podcasters — Embedded’s Kelly McEvers, We Live Here’s Kameel Stanley and The Organist’s Andrew Leland — talk about how they made their shows stand out in an increasingly crowded space. I mean, market.
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Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.