Parallels

With all the recent fuss about BBC mandarins wasting and trousering public funds, this BBC news brief caught my eye:

NPR to shed 10% of staff amid budget shortfall

The BBC reports that US public radio network NPR is having to cut loose 10% of its staff due to financial difficulties. What the BBC doesn’t want you to know: anchor of BBC World News America, Katty Kay, is the regular guest host for NPR’s Diane Rehm show.

The BBC tells you this about NPR’s funding:

NPR, based in Washington DC, receives about 2% of its annual budget from federal funds, with the rest from grants, licence fees from local affiliates, and listener donations.

Its revenue was projected to be $178m in the upcoming financial year.

There’s no bias here yet; the importance of the information will become apparent in a moment.

The broadcaster has also seen several high-profile firings and turnover in its leadership in recent years, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance payments.

What the BBC doesn’t want you to know:

NPR host’s involvement in Occupy D.C. leads to her firing from another show

A public radio host was fired on Thursday after the conservative political site The Daily Caller exposed her role as a spokeswoman for “October 2011,” the faction of Occupy Wall Street movement occupying Washington’s Freedom Plaza.

Lisa Simeone, the host of the nationally syndicated “World of Opera” show, and former weekend host of “All Things Considered,” is a freelancer working for WDAV, NPR’s Davidson, N.C., affiliate, where “World of Opera” originates. She also was the host for the weekly D.C. show “Soundprint” on NPR’s WAMU affiliate.

NPR terminates contract with Juan Williams

Juan Williams once again got himself into trouble with NPR for comments he made at his other job, at Fox News. And NPR’s has unleashed an unprecedented firestorm of criticism directed not at Williams – but at NPR.

NPR fired Williams Wednesday night after 10 years with the network for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News.

Thursday was a day like none I’ve experienced since coming to NPR in October 2007. Office phone lines rang non-stop like an alarm bell with no off button. We’ve received more than 8,000 emails, a record with nothing a close second.

NPR’s garnered more than 6,800 comments, many supporting Williams and others asking why it took so long to fire him. Here’s Thursday’s .

At noon, the deluge of email crashed NPR’s “Contact Us” form on the web site.

The overwhelming majority are angry, furious, outraged. They want NPR to hire him back immediately. If NPR doesn’t, they want all public funding of public radio to stop. They promise to never donate again. They are as mad as hell, and want everyone to know it. It was daunting to answer the phone and hear so much unrestrained anger.

Schiller’s fall puts NPR funds at risk

News accounts of the sacking of National Public Radio Chief Executive Vivian Schiller are careful to point out that she is not a blood relation to Ron Schiller, who, until Tuesday, had been NPR’s senior vice president for development — before he was caught on tape disparaging Tea Party members and the Republican Party in general.

But, unfortunately for her, she is related to Ron Schiller in the sense that he was one of her first big hires after she took the top NPR job in January 2009. WNYC President Laura Walker referred to the duo as “The Schillers,” because they traveled the country together meeting with donors and local public radio officials attempting to build a fundraising juggernaut that would benefit all of public media, with NPR at the center.

As chief executive, Schiller defined her top priority to be creating a stable funding base for NPR to do its thing, which is a pretty important thing, actually: delivering high-quality journalism in which listeners of all political stripes can hear their issues addressed in a serious manner.

It is tragic that, by hiring Schiller and botching the firing last year of former NPR commentator Juan Williams, a favorite of conservatives, she has placed public radio funding on its most precarious footing in recent memory.

Emphases mine. Sounds eerily familiar, no?

In other words, this is a largely Left-wing network. Why is the aforementioned financial data important? Because the BBC then goes on to say this:

The network is a favourite target of conservatives and Republicans, who see it as biased and an inappropriate recipient of taxpayer funds.

Of course, right-on thinking people are supposed to snicker at this, because these terrible people are making a mountain out of a molehill, raising a fuss over a lousy 2%. I’m not putting up a straw man here. This argument has been going on for ages. And as we can see, there’s clearly something to those charges of bias. It’s bias not to see that, if you know what I mean.

However, I’d suggest that there might be a legitimate concern about giving $3.46 million (2% of $173 million) of taxpayer money to a media outlet catering almost exclusively to wealthy white people:

AIR Director: NPR Serves ‘Liberal, Highly Educated Elite,’ Wonders How to Justify Public Funding

After working in many parts of public radio — both deep inside it and now with one foot inside and one foot outside — I believe there’s an elephant in the room. There is something that I’m very conscious of as we consider this crisis that I’d like to speak to.

We have built an extraordinary franchise. It didn’t happen by accident. It happened because we used a very specific methodology to cultivate and build an audience. For years, in boardrooms, at conferences, with funders, we have talked about our highly educated, influential audience. We pursued David Giovannoni’s methodologies. We all participated. It was his research, his undaunted, clear strategy that we pursued to build the successful news journalism franchise we have today.

What happened as a result is that we unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite. “Super-serve the core” — that was the mantra, for many, many years. This focus has, in large part, brought us to our success today. It was never anyone’s intention to exclude anyone.

Nor was it ever, by her own admission, anyone’s intention to include anyone else. Then there was this more recently:

NPR: mostly white audience produces mostly white teen novels list

There’s controversy at NPR over the service’s latest 100 best-ever teen novels list. 75,220 NPR listeners voted for their favorite young adult novels. The list quickly drew fire for its lack of diversity.

“Only two—yes, two—books on the list are written about main characters of color,” noted reading and English teacher Shaker Laurie in a blog post, they being Sandra Cisneros’ ‘House on Mango Street’ and Sherman Alexie’s ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’.

How did this happen, you ask?

But NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos contends that the problem wasn’t with the judges:

“The issue with NPR’s audience is that it skews white and mature. As I detailed last year in a report on diversity in NPR, roughly 87 percent of the radio audience was white, compared to 77 of the country’s over-18 population, according to NPR’s Audience, Insight and Research Department. African-Americans and Hispanics are particularly under-represented; Asian Americans are slightly over-represented, but they are a much smaller group.”

“The poll result, in other words, was innocent, normal and natural,” he concluded. “If still sad.”

Why should any tax money go to fund this, when it could be used instead to help the poorest and most vulnerable (who tend not to be so hideously white) or, heaven forbid, not taken from taxpayers in the first place? The BBC wouldn’t dream of such an objection, apparently, or at least can’t be bothered to mention it. Sure, it’s only a news brief, but that shows how they don’t see the big picture behind the story, or choose not to. These own-goals certainly contributed to NPR’s current funding difficulties, and it’s worth discussing.

I ask any lurking journalists who wish to dismiss my point by saying that I simply don’t understand how news works to please spend a moment explaining why it’s not worth discussing. It’s an honest request.

Also, this goes some way to discredit Mark Mardell’s repeated assertion that conservatives and especially the Tea Party movement he loathes has no legitimate objection to wealth redistribution because they really object only to redistributing wealth to people not like them. Even when he admits that there are a few who aren’t racist, he goes on to tell anecdotes about people who are, and concludes that the whole issue is sharpened by redistribution to people who “are not like us”. Well, if the Tea Party movement is supposed to be made up of almost exclusively “white, largely well-off people” who mostly have a racial animus towards the misuse of their taxes, then by his logic they wouldn’t object to around $3.5 million going to NPR.

Of course most Beeboids (aside from Jeremy Paxman, apparently) wouldn’t see anything wrong with forcing all taxpayers to fund this kind of media organization.

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31 Responses to Parallels

  1. will says:

    2% of £173m is £3.46m not £34.6m. Either sum would be a more welcome level of forced funding of the BBC than the £3,600m demanded of us

       22 likes

  2. Ian Hills says:

    Regarding the redistribution of wealth – after the corporation sacked a lot of native hacks around the world (thanks to the Tory cuts, or rather the semi-pegging of the license fee), we started to notice an increase in golden handshake payments for the big bosses. I wonder if these two phenomena are related?

    Perhaps the NAO will be able to tell us, if it manages to wrest the books away from the corporation’s grubby little accountants.

       25 likes

    • DP111 says:

      Quote : The overwhelming majority are angry, furious, outraged. They want NPR to hire him back immediately. If NPR doesn’t, they want all public funding of public radio to stop. They promise to never donate again. They are as mad as hell, and want everyone to know it. It was daunting to answer the phone and hear so much unrestrained anger.

      This is the kind of thing that must run shivers down BBC’s panty hose.

      What impudence that license payers have the gall to threaten they wont pay their license fee. Thankfully it will never happen here. Allahu Achbar!

         20 likes

      • Stewart says:

        They were probably all ‘trolls’ who don’t know how a radio station works.
        Still unlike us British ‘trolls’ their not forced to pay for the service under threat of imprisonment

           13 likes

  3. TL;DR says:

    “American stuff.”

       7 likes

  4. George R says:

    Bill O’Reilly in conversation after Juan Williams’ sacking from NPR (2010)-

    6 min video clip from ‘Fox News’-

       6 likes

  5. Not a lurking journalist says:

    Interesting to read your opinion on NPR , don’t really see what its got to do with the BBC though.

    Your article is a tad more lengthy.

       8 likes

    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      It’s a BBC report. That’s what it’s got to do with the BBC. My opinion about NPR seems to be backed up by a few facts, as well as by the opinion of someone connected with, and claiming to speak for, NPR. Didn’t you read that part? And your remark about the length tells me you didn’t understand my point. Or didn’t want to.

      Address the issues, please.

         37 likes

      • Guest Who says:

        ‘Didn’t you read that part?
        Seems not. Normally that would be explained by the admission of not being a journalist, or at least one who lurks, but with the BBC of course that really doesn’t offer any separation. The new #prasnews transcriber breed packing the cubicles like Tulip and the ‘£19 for 37 hrs work in the real world’ lady rather illustrate this.
        As to length, that seems a peculiar obsession with them. Maybe they read Cosmo when not surfing all day. Shame their offerings if short are always sour. With a bulit-in 2 like guarantee atop a selfie.
        At least we have a new hall monitor. Can never have enough of those. And 4-week unpaid work experience slots can offer a way in to greater things…. well… if you don’t end up making the BBC look even more dire in association.

           16 likes

        • Wild says:

          It is all very well Leftist BBC apologists attacking David Preiser, but if their arguments are so piss poor I do not know why they bother. They should just stick to the insults.

             24 likes

      • Not a lurking journalist says:

        You made an honest request, I gave my honest answer.

        What makes you think the BBC doesn’t want you to know these things? Where’s your evidence for that? such as not wanting readers to know that Katty Kay appears regularly as a guest?

        a) There’s no reason it wouldn’t.
        b) Such info is not in any way germane to the report. Should that just be tacked on the end of the article? ‘By the way, the BBC’s Katty Kay appears as a guest sometimes’.

        Their funding and where it comes from would seem germane. I’m not able to explain that in any other way, but I would hazard most readers would get that.

        Sure, it’s only a news brief, but here’s my opinon, backed by some examples and this should be included.

        As I’ve said many times before, you read something that just isnt there. Maybe its the US school system. This is something I covered in English Comprehension classes at GCSE.

           5 likes

        • Guest Who says:

          ‘As I’ve said many times before, you read something that just isnt there.’

          Under this name? I just ask, as until recently not been one that’s familiar. Though the presumption and lack of persuasion is.
          ‘Maybe its the US school system. This is something I covered in English Comprehension classes at GCSE.’
          That said, along with the UK version I attended, David does at least have a grasp of apostrophe use.

             10 likes

          • Not a lurking journalist says:

            ‘Under this name? I just ask, as until recently not been one that’s familiar. ‘

            I don’t share your obsessive behaviour.

            I’m surprised in criticising my lack of an apostrophy while avoiding the point, you didn’t choke on your own hypocrisy .

            I’m sure David appreciates your back-handed compliment though.

               5 likes

            • Guest Who says:

              I don’t share your obsessive behaviour.
              If you say so.

              I’m surprised in criticising my lack of an apostrophy [bites lip] while avoiding the point, you didn’t choke on your own hypocrisy .’
              Coming from one who arrived at this thread on the basis of writing style commentary and little else, I’m guessing irony is, also, not your strong point?

              I’m sure David appreciates your back-handed compliment though.
              Back-handed? No. And if he takes it that way I need to apologise to him. His grasp of English and facility using it is without peer.

                 11 likes

              • David Preiser (USA) says:

                I’d have to have the thinnest of skins to take your line about the apostrophe as back-handed. I didn’t get that at all, and I’m well known for being po-faced and humorless.

                   3 likes

                • Guest Who says:

                  Most gracious:)
                  I thought as much, but am relieved to have it confirmed.
                  I know you know, but I actually was suggesting that, though our two countries can on occasion be described as being separated by a common language, there is no doubting your abilities in US or UK usage. Plus spelling and grammar excellence that evidently eludes those still somehow feeling well placed to offer literary critiques.
                  It’s just possible NALJ was trying to create mischief.
                  For some reason.
                  I note that, despite some outstanding questions of relevance, he appears to have left the building.

                     1 likes

        • David Preiser (USA) says:

          Not a lurking journalist, because you’re now commenting and not lurking? I think you mean I’m complaining that I’m not reading something because it isn’t there. You disagree that the reasons for NPR’s troubles need to be reported, I get that.

          The funding is germane, yes. Your own personal perspective is telling you to focus on the 2%, which is the same focus the BBC has, when in fact it’s obviously a drop in donations and corporate grants that’s brought NPR to this point. Why has that happened? You’re not interested, and don’t think anyone else should be. I get that. Most readers, then, will be left not only uninformed, but misinformed.

          The BBC takes care to mention that Republicans don’t like NPR, but mention only the public funding aspect. While this is true, the reason for that objection is left unsaid. I provided evidence to support the contention that NPR is heavily biased to the Left. That’s very relevant to Republicans’ and conservatives’ objection to public funding for NPR. I also provided one piece of evidence showing a reason for a drop in private donations. You don’t believe the public needs to be given any of that background information about the funding, even while you say that the funding is germane. I get that you’re okay with leaving the impression that Republicans and conservatives are petty and misguided. If not, you’ll have to explain why this isn’t misleading.

          If this is what you feel is proper journalism, then we’ll have to disagree. I’ll continue to question the priest caste.

          I would never actually expect the BBC to mention Katty Kay’s connection to NPR. I was mentioning it to people here because it’s more evidence of not only that NPR is Left-leaning, but to highlight the similarity between the two organizations. Not mentioning Katty’s connection is the very least of my concerns, really.

          I wouldn’t know if you’ve said anything many times before because you change monikers. That’s a fun game to play, but it really doesn’t contribute to a congenial debate. I suppose now you’ll complain that I’ve written too many words in response when instead I should shut up and know my place.

          What makes the me think the BBC doesn’t want people to know that NPR has had a similar fall in audience esteem to what the BBC is experiencing? The clear parallels between what’s happening at NPR and at the BBC. Alternatively, they could just be like you and not think these things are important because of your own personal biases. Perhaps neither you nor the BBC care about really informing the public, because journalism.

          It should be more than a news brief, really. If it’s going to be only a short notice, then the BBC should remove the misleading sentence about Republicans and conservatives.

             19 likes

  6. Rob Newby says:

    This would be an interesting read if it wasn’t for the obvious prejudice of calling sectors of society ‘hideously white.’ If I was to call Detroit or Birmingham ‘hideously black’ I would quite rightly be called racist. The same should apply to you unless it was supposed to be sarcastic, in which case it wasn’t conveyed very well.

       7 likes

    • Guest Who says:

      Welcome Mr. Newby. Or may one call you Rob?
      ‘the obvious prejudice of calling sectors of society ‘hideously white.’
      I’d tend to agree.
      Can’t imagine where folk might hear such stuff though, just maybe, they might use it in satire based on something most students of the BBC (especially concerned with how it presumes to lead, or get lead) do tend to know.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/1104305.stm

         15 likes

      • Not a lurking journalist says:

        Why not just explain that to him then and drop the pompousness?

           7 likes

        • Guest Who says:

          You get one (1), wild guess.
          But as someone once said, ‘don’t really see what its got to do with the BBC though’.

             8 likes

    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Rob Newby, you’re missing some key background information. The phrase is a long-running gag around here.

      Dyke: BBC is hideously white

      Greg Dyke, the director-general of the BBC, has condemned the corporation as ‘hideously white’ and said its race relations are as bad as those in some police forces.
      In a radio interview to be broadcast tonight that echoes criticism of institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, Dyke reveals that the management of the BBC is almost entirely white and that the organisation has failed to tackle the problem.
      Although he will not go as far as to say that the corporation was racist, the director-general will admit that the corporation is unable to retain staff from ethnic minorities and questioned whether they were made to feel welcome in the organisation.

      As you can see, there’s a parallel between this and NPR’s mostly white book list.

      You know what? I agree with you that this kind of focus on genetics, assigning value to skin color, is racist. But it’s not coming from me.

         21 likes

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  8. Facts. says:

    “What the BBC doesn’t want you to know: anchor of BBC World News America, Katty Kay, is the regular guest host for NPR’s Diane Rehm show.”

    They’re not doing a good job of keeping it secret;

    “Katty has co-presented BBC World News America and is BBC World News America ‘s Washington correspondent. She is a frequent guest on Meet the Press and a regular guest host for Diane Rehm on NPR. ”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/bbcworld/worldstories/pressreleases/2011/09_september/katty.shtml

       3 likes

    • Guest Who says:

      Then there’s Realities.
      This is the second time in as many days that what the BBC posts as PR somewhere, once, on the more niche, industry end of its website estate is equated to public knowledge and context now.
      That this is posted by another new name very familiar with the BBC Press Office archive is surely a coincidence?

      http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/q-why-does-bbc-need-147-pr-staff-no-comment-week-press-gazette-journalism-weekly

      No FT?

         8 likes

    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Nice try, but this wasn’t mentioned in the report, and no link to it anywhere.

         4 likes

      • Guest Who says:

        ‘Nice try, but this wasn’t mentioned in the report, and no link to it anywhere.’
        Seems even the BBC has a fair appreciation of the value of BBC PR, or at least when to use it and when not.
        I wonder when there’s going to be a ‘Most Trusted’ name pop up, on the ‘something must stick eventually’ basis?

           1 likes

  9. http://www.youtube.com/user/MrDocumentarytube

    Checkout my channel for Full BBC Documentaries.

       1 likes

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