Money makes the world go round: A blog about the business and culture of all things entertaining in the world of theater, television, film, music, art, gadgets, gizmos and other life necessities (and probably other things, knowing myself)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An imperfect reporting world

After publicly commenting on a Fox News broadcast that people in “Muslim garb” on a plane made him nervous, NPR terminated its longtime contract with Juan Williams, stating he had “undermined his credibility as a news analyst.” Williams didn’t have much time to mourn as a $2 million opportunity from Fox soon came knocking.

For their decision, NPR explained that Williams’ contributions to programs like “The O’Reilly Factor” violated the public radio organization’s code that journalists “should not express views” in other outlets that “they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.”

Williams’ ax from his employer ensued some mayhem as conservatives became concerned that the “public” module associated with NPR should deny the station the tendency to sway left. Last week, some Republican congressmen argued in favor of a revocation of NPR's federal funding.

Newt Gringrich, a former House Speaker and paid Fox commentator, said NPR’s decision is “an act of total censorship” and urged the U.S. Congress to “investigate NPR and consider cutting off their money.”

Formerly known as National Public Radio, NPR was created thirty years ago by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the same organization responsible for creating Public Broadcasting Services.  The idea was to have news outlets for the public without underlying obligations to giant corporations, which now, some argue, is the government in this specific case.

Despite sharp criticism, Chief Executive Officer Vivian Schiller sticks by NPR’s decision and denied directly receiving any funding from the federal government. NPR financed much of their $161.8 million operation through contributions from listeners, grants from sources funded by the federal government and Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives money from taxpayers.

If anyone has ever had the opportunity to listen to NPR, it is as unbiased as a news outlet can possibly get nowadays with neutral tones and direct reporting. I can turn NPR on in the mornings, afternoons or listen via web to their segments without the run around of "who thinks what" and "what so-so had for breakfast." My life doesn't allow me the luxury to sit around and wait for a news program to actually get to news so NPR has been life-changing; for me, at least.

It's bothersome that some can be so criticizing of a company's decision to let go of an employee who just didn't follow the rules. Say, if a teacher made certain public statements after her work hours, would this action not somehow affect her employment status? Of course it would. I understand the argument - What I do in my free time has nothing to do with my ability to maintain and perform well in my job, right? This may be true, but the fact is, we all understand what's fair and what's not, but we also understand the rules.

And if WE understand the rules, I can assure you Mr. Juan Williams does too. He understood his contract with NPR and the codes he had to follow to be part of the elite journalism team. 

In my opinion, perhaps he wanted an out to his NPR contract to secure a better fit with Fox News. Whatever the hidden reasons are, arguing that NPR has "censored" Williams is outrageous; it was solely his decision to enter into a contract with NPR and solely his decision to leave it.

It is also disheartening that some argue NPR is so skewed left, they should not receive any form of government funding.  The same way it is impossible for a judge to leave all of his political associations when the judicial robe comes on, it is also hard for reporters to leave all of their opinions at the door.

But listen to NPR and one will understand: it is not entertaining or is it controversial. The news programs are announced as if the reporters are reading it directly from an actual news article. Rarely do you even hear pitches in the reporting. Admit it or not, NPR is as perfect as we can get in this imperfect reporting world. In my opinion, at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment