DecodeDC, the political podcast and public radio show created by former NPR correspondent Andrea Seabrook, has been acquired by the E.W. Scripps commercial newswire service. Scripps bought the independently produced podcast as part of a strategic restructuring and expansion of its Washington-based coverage under Ellen Weiss, former NPR News chief. Weiss joined Scripps in February as its Washington bureau chief and developed plans to focus the bureau on enterprise and investigative reporting for Scripps-owned TV, digital and print properties. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Seabrook will join the Scripps bureau staff, which is beefing up its multimedia production capacity and folding its newspaper wire service, according to a Nov. 11 release announcing the purchase.
Ellen Weiss, the NPR News chief who took the network’s blame for the Juan Williams affair, has joined the Center for Public Integrity as its executive editor as of Oct. 3, the watchdog newsroom announced. The center is headed by one of her predecessors at NPR, Bill Buzenberg. “Ellen Weiss is one of the best and most creative news executives in the business,” he said in a news release. CPI hired three other top editors, including Christine Montgomery, the center’s new chief digital officer, who was managing editor of PBS.org for two years while it expanded and then sharply reduced its online-news plans.
NPR is facing the most serious political crisis in its history with no chief executive to speak for it, no chief fundraiser to make sure its new building can be finished, and no chief journalist to rebuff or heed criticism of its newsroom. “People feel that they’ve been let down, and there’s this vacuum at NPR, and what’s next?” said Dave Edwards, chair of the NPR Board. “Those emotions are felt by people in NPR’s building, at stations and by board members. The board has an obligation to stabilize things. That’s what we’re working on.”
Joyce Slocum, general counsel and senior v.p. of legal affairs, was named interim c.e.o. after the departure of Vivian Schiller March 9, but she has asked the NPR Board to recruit another exec to serve as the public face of NPR, speaking for it in Congress and to the press, she told Current.
Reacting to NPR’s abrupt image makeover — from ascendant news organization to partisan punching bag — the network’s board last week hired an outside firm to investigate the decisions that invited the comedown, the dismissal of news analyst Juan Williams.Dave Edwards, the board’s new chair, announced that Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a 20-office multinational law practice, is leading the internal review initiated last month. Weil is “highly regarded with considerable expertise in governance issues,” Edwards said, shortly after the board unanimously elected him as its new leader.Security guards with metal detectors checked the unusually large number of onlookers at the Nov. 11 meeting at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. A public session preceded nearly a full day of closed-door board meetings. Just two weeks earlier, after NPR’s dismissal of Williams prompted a display of outrage at Fox News, the network received a bomb-threat letter and turned it over to law enforcement (Current, Nov. 1).
Top NPR officials may have thought their Oct. 20 decision to dismiss veteran journalist Juan Williams was about journalistic objectivity, but to many outsiders it sounded more like a story of arrogant lefty political correctness. That narrative opened up public radio — and all of public broadcasting — to a political attack that may help the candidates of Fox News and the Republican Party rally their conservative base for the midterm elections Nov. 2. Criticism of the firing was not limited to the partisan right.
Ellen Weiss, an award-winning producer and editor in NPR’s news division over 25 years, will become its leader, the network announced last week. She is the newsroom’s first homegrown journalist after three veeps who established their journalistic credentials elsewher
Weiss, who had been interim news v.p., moves up from her previous job as senior editor of the national desk to succeed Bill Marimow, who became editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Marimow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning print reporter, was credited with strengthening NPR’s investigative reporting during more than 2½ years at NPR, including eight months as top news executive. The announcement to the NPR News staff capped an exceptional week for Weiss, who was offered the promotion April 3 and learned the next day that she would share a Peabody Award. Weiss and two colleagues — correspondent Daniel Zwerdling and producer Anne Hawke — won a Peabody for December’s investigative report on the military’s treatment of soldiers returning from war with emotional wounds (story).