>… concerns that coverage is frequently presented through an ideological or idealistic prism that can alienate listeners.

Speaking as a lifelong NPR listener who recently had to cut them off because of ideological exhaustion: yep!

NPR is not a monolithic media organization. In my experience, local NPR stations are one of the best sources of interesting and relevant local news. In contrast, most local TV/Radio news is borderline a crime blotter ginned up to keep people outraged.

Regarding the national NPR newsroom, I think this story will provoke positive change, as indicated in the article. There is no media which every person would consider unbiased, and very few media organizations take action to even attempt to reign in biases. The fact that editors will start reviewing coverage more closely to remove tilt sets a higher bar than all but a few news organizations.

I chuckle thinking about a reporter stepping out of another random news room in the country and spreading outrage that the coverage has a bias. The response would generally be: “Yes, duh.”

If the numbers Berliner revealed about audience losses are correct, the impact is surely being most felt at the local station level. If fewer people are tuning in, fundraising will suffer and cuts are inevitable.

For instance, Boston has two NPR stations, WGBH and WBUR, and both are in trouble. This article talks about declining numbers of live listeners and resistance to digital transformation, but never mentions the issues brought up by Berliner.

The lapse of journalistic objectivity over the past ~10 years is a dead horse.

I do think we've turned a corner for the better. I haven't listened to NPR in years but the Times has improved over the past few years.

One of the themes of Civil War, the new Alex Garland movie, concerns this dynamic. See his interview in the Times: His theory is that the press is supposed to check polarization by disseminating objective facts (which never fit one faction's worldview perfectly) and this process' failure has led to increasing polarization.

I grew up listening to NPR, it was always on. Car talk with my dad on the weekends, Prarie home, etc. It's been programed in every car I've owned since I was a teenager. My wife and I have listened together and donated for years. But starting around 2019ish it gotten harder and harder to stay engaged with the programming.

Almost every piece of reporting is now some kind of soft-outrage human-interest pseudo news. I want to listen but every other story is a tale of victim hood and oppression. It's just too much.

Even NYT didn't suspend Bari Weiss despite her bringing similar criticisms about NYT.

In all honesty, I never understood the appeal of NPR, and I've been consuming news all the time since I was in elementary school (I even got my elementary school library to get a weekly subscription for The Economist).

I love PBS, but NPR always felt like cultural commentary with no actual in depth reporting. NYT occasionally feels like that as well, but their track record has more than redeemed themselves.

Here is the article that he was punished for -
This is the same NPR that sold it's subscriber list to the Democratic party. In the US, the government has no business paying for speech, especially partisan speech.

Like most of the rest of the media, NPR is no longer liberal (in respect to protecting personal human rights, economic freedom, observable truth and government institutions) but rather Liberal causes (restricting speech against protected classes, skeptical of free markets, relative truths, tearing down government institutions).

This comment thread is almost entirely people who think NPR of today is worse than it used to be (with some exceptions for local news).

It makes me wonder if NPR news leadership thinks they are doing a good job? Is there an audience out there that think NPR is doing a good job in absolute terms? It's easy to say they are better than Newsmax or some other outlet, but that's not the same as saying NPR is good all by itself.

NPR listener for 30 years and I'm having a similar reaction to many of you in this thread. For the first time, I'm finding myself turning off the radio once I'm awake.

It seems like Berliner breaking the rules (or norms) and throwing bombs by way of another media outlet was his last-ditch effort to break through and be heard. In that, at least, he's getting attention, and now let's hope it leads to change.

The examples he gave in the FP piece all seemed very political, focusing on not covering "the other side". Honestly I don't want any of that crap coming at me in the morning, I don't want "other side" coverage just like I don't want "my side" coverage. I can get that anywhere. I listen to NPR because I want good journalism, not both-sidesism. I hope this event can lead coverage back there. With the new CEO, perhaps there's an opportunity.

Despite having been near the top of the homepage mere minutes ago, this news article is now seemingly entirely delisted from HN without being marked flagged...

[It has since been marked flagged. My comment was seemingly changed by someone to "and marked flagged", I've changed it back for posterity]

I went back through five pages of posts.

I understand the desire to keep politics out of HN but this seems like a big story to cover up.

"This article is completely false and misleading! We'll show everyone how fair and unbiased we are by... suspending anyone who dares to criticize us?"

That's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off.

Grew up in a purple state listening to NPR. For many many years, it was the only smart talk radio available. But it turned into partisan cant a few years ago. A great tragedy.
Recently I bought a car from the early 2000s, no aux jack or BT and I've been having an interesting time just listening to the radio rather than dropping my phone ecosystem into the car. So I'm listening to a lot more NPR than I have for at least a decade.

And I have no idea where people who are saying NPR has made some kind of hard partisan shift are coming from. If anything, as far as I can tell, most programming is still trying to walk a middle-of-the-road multiple-perspectives this-side-says-this but that-side-says-that, sometimes annoying so.

Of course, there is one group of people that has been casting NPR as particularly partisan for at least 25 years, and a lot of these comments sound like a cross between their rhetoric and NYT Pitchbot.

Huh. That article is.. alright. Reads as pretty emotional. The inciting article (linked in a sibling comment, well worth reading) does not deserve the criticisms as portrayed by the quick quotes included in this article.

The bit about political 'ammunition' is interesting to me though, given that the inciting article is briefly but thoroughly damning of the political camp evidently using this as 'ammunition'.

Welp, this is one way to validate his criticisms and prevent others from ever speaking out again. This is journalistic oppression.
Having mastered the art of the circular firing squad, NPR continues to practice it.

Juan Williams may be laughing now. Don't know about the person who fired him, then lost her job in the fallout.

Haven’t read Mr. Berliner’s piece, but I was a listener for 15 years before I stopped altogether shortly after the events of 2020 that do not need to be named (and whose particular name chosen by the speaker usually reveals their political leanings)

Coverage seems to have gotten stuck around that time.

It’s really disheartening to hear so many objections to “race” or “class” stories on NPR as these are the pieces that speak of experiences like my own. I’m in my 40s today but I remember being one of barely a handful of Tejano game developers in Austin back in the 90s and no one called our inclusion DEI - they just called it hiring locally. It seems all these good things that were the norm have been hijacked and brought the worst of the objectivists. Maybe if listening to understand (vs listening to react) a lot of these comments here wouldn’t look fence walking outbursts.

I still have hope for the future. Not much to be found in these comments tho.

I listen to public radio a lot. I am not exactly a liberal or progressive but I know exactly what I am getting into when I turn on public radio. None the less, I can still enjoy it the same way I enjoy an action movie or WWE so long as I am willing to suspend disbelief.
Npr was great when Bush Jr was in office. Once Obama became elected, it went downhill and hasn't recovered. I stopped listening to it years ago and it's a shame what has become of the network.
I used to listen to NPR regularly. I enjoyed many of the programs. But that all changed when the "news" reporting became so heavily biased that I couldn't distinguish NPR from main stream media. In fact, I've become so irritated by the bias that I now openly call for defunding NPR and I've removed them from all my radio presets. I didn't leave NPR, they left me....
Used to like NPR back when talk of the nation was decent circa 2005 ish. But it's really changed and a lot of the news reporting is of lower quality and so much more of the overall content has distinct viewpoints on purpose.

In all fairness, I think generations of folks aren't really able to set viewpoints aside and have come to believe that attempting to is bad. Which is complicated. But it no doubt meant that they needed to meet that audience to keep donations up.

And at least it's better than Fox News or talk radio and their ilk.

Thread ended up way more conservative than i'd imagine.
My issue is not NPR showing overt partisanship, but the way NPR trivializes global events of major import by interleaving them with softball human interest or culture stories in their primary news feed. Just totally lacking any organization, and playing to a presumably dumbed down public. Self fulfilling prophecy.
Several posts here have interesting, critical comments on the past and recent content of NPR.

Sounds like some of the HN audience wants content that is some of entertaining, interesting, informative and, instead, is getting some quite different content, superficial, and based on some topics common in current journalism and/or partisan politics.


For "partisan politics" content, one candidate explanation is simply money.

But for journalism, that's more difficult. A guess is that journalism is an old profession with some accepted assumptions and techniques.

One such assumption is:

"Keep it short, simple, superficial. Avoid credible information as too difficult, demanding of the audience."

One technique is:

"Keep it emotional about problems of people."

With the Web, for a focused audience journalism may be changing.

Maybe I'll pay attention to journalism again when, for a start. they report numerical data with graphs, done like STEM field students do.

I've never expected NPR to have all that much diversity of opinion really, I expect them to be centre-left but way closer to the centre than is advertised. I only listen to the podcasts, never the radio, because it's an obsolete format other than in term of robustness.
I wish NPR would follow the BBC model. Multiple radio stations devoted to different topics with high quality hosts and a completely ad-free experience for those living in the host country. Instead, it’s quite political and pretty small in scale.
Don’t tell people how to think. Sums it up perfectly.
If NPR wanted to improve, they would fire their bigoted CEO and make Berliner the new one.
Gotta hand it to NPR for at least linking to the public criticism and interviewing people within their org and getting comment from Uri. Maybe this will tamp down the ideological bent NPR has been on for the past few years.
I looked up the article:

Generally speaking NPR rarely shows up on my radar. Punishing him for this article though sure has the opposite effect of what they hope to achieve. In fact, with this they just sent a message to all their journalists that they are not allowed to express viewpoints making their problem worse.

Objective outsider view, NPR is guilty as charged. How can NPR ever repair trust in their reporting with this over their head?

This is a very low bar, but when a journalist at Fox News (not the opinion shows, just their regular news outlet) is fired, disciplined, calls out issues, whatever…

How many times do you recall seeing coverage of it on Fox News itself, whether on TV or their web site? How many times have you seen a similar piece of self-reflection on OANN? Or Newsmax? Or CNN?

Most of the time, news outlets clam up and you read the articles about them on other outlets.

I appreciate NPR's unbiased reporting on internal conflict. They could have dragged Berliner but chose to report the facts as they are.

That's why they're in my top three rotation.

This is the reason I stopped donating. They don’t even bother trying to look objective and impartial anymore. It’s no different from Fox or CNN. At least PBS News is still decent.
>“NPR has formally punished Uri Berliner, the senior editor who publicly argued a week ago that the network had "lost America's trust" by approaching news stories with a rigidly progressive mindset.”

>”Berliner's five-day suspension without pay, which began last Friday, has not been previously reported.”

What’s the point of free speech if you have no meaningful way to exercise it?

Complaints about bias in journalism only exist because of an idealist assumption that unbiased "news" or "facts" is something that exists. But it does not. Sure, there are some "objective facts," but they're really more measurements or scientific observations — today's temperature, yesterdays death totals, the price of a stock, the score of a sports game, etc.

Anything beyond the boundaries of this ticker of raw measurements depends on some level of narrative, and therefore bias. Even the driest, most unbiased reporting of "what happened" is not immune to selection bias in choosing which events to report.

Ironically, the more that a news organization pretends this purist ideal of unbiased news exists, the more biased it becomes in its effort to hide its natural biases.

In terms of raw signal/noise, a pair of oppositely polarized news organizations are more informative than a single "unbiased" one. I learn more about the "truth" (which is mostly a matter of perception) by reading both Fox and CNN, and comparing the overlaps and differences between them, than I ever could by reading a single "unbiased" source of news in the middle.

I've got no love for NPR, but as a result of the comments here I've had to do some self-reflection, and keep coming back to that saying about a table with ten people and that story about the bartender who kicked a dude out.

@dang please ban this account.

> Berliner said the social media posts demonstrated Maher was all but incapable of being the person best poised to direct the organization.

> "We're looking for a leader right now who's going to be unifying and bring more people into the tent and have a broader perspective on, sort of, what America is all about," Berliner said. "And this seems to be the opposite of that.

Berliner could have stopped at criticism of the coverage, but now seems to be looking for ways to attack the institution in destructive ways. Berliner knows these attacks could bury and destroy NPR. NPR holding onto Berliner this long might be a mistake - it invites the tidal wave of attacks from the right, and the 'centrist' Dems will join in (like cowards joining the bully) - but at this point, it may be time to fire them.

The real test of the CEO will be handling this crisis. It should not be unexpected in the modern world, and there are playbooks for being effective. It's now part of the job.

Seems this editors article needs to be better fact checked

From my own PoV, NPR and their stations in my area mostly went to crap back ~2000 - shifting formats from music-heavy to much more talk-heavy and news-heavy (especially after 9/11), and seeming far more idiotic and partisan as part of that.

I still recall listening to an especially wretched NPR news story ~2003 - where (in effect) Senator Slime(D) insisted that 2 + 2 was 3, Senator Sleaze(R) insisted that 2 + 2 was 5, and NPR was far too fair, balanced, and brain-dead to even hint at the possibility of 4. I stopped tuning in, and never donated another dime.

NPR programming has been non-partisan left-of-center with a bias towards humanity over raw factual presentation for as long as I can remember. It's essentially the NPR "house-style".
> "Did we offer coverage that helped them understand — even if just a bit better — those neighbors with whom they share little in common?"

I find the person leading the coverage “solution” has the same emblematic word choice issues as the organization as a whole. I love NPR and the local public affiliates but they cannot see their own failings.

Are there any two people, anywhere in this world that truly “share little in common”?

The journalists at NPR seem appalled that a member of their staff would "violate everyone’s trust" by speaking publicly about this, which is odd since so much of their profession relies on people breaking confidentiality and trust to speak to the press...


Anyone remember how awesome This American Life was? They used to be about just that — an American [in their life] with an amazing story to tell. So simple and elegant. Then they went massively down hill around the time Trump was elected. They seemed to be “on the campaign trail” more often than not, or about some kind of grievance or “injustice”. I stopped listening.
I used to have NPR on in my car basically all the time since I started driving in the early aughts.

I am in no way a Trump supporter but the way the tone shifted into vitriolic acid spitting after his election, I just can’t abide or frankly listen anymore. I just want the news.

Funny how the right lose their shit when media outlets take a progressive stance but don't say a thing about right wing media and their obvious ideological bias.

The right are huge hypocrites. Seems like only the progressives need to apologise for holding their views but the right never does.

NPR should tell everyone to fuck off and go watch fox news if they don't want a progressive and fact based view point.

I still listen to my local NPR station (WNYC) despite its failure to pander to fragile white people.
"NPR goes woke, loses listeners" is a great viral narrative, but I think it's causally backwards. NPR, like every media entity, is now in constant completion with endless social media influencers pretending to be rich, videos of every possible permutation of interspecies baby animal cuddling, tweaking Minecraft streamers, logorrheic racists and paranoid schizophrenics with enormous research budgets, an infinite amount of disturbing pornography beyond the nightmares of de Sade, ISIL/Los Zetas beheading videos ... all of this I can personally attest to, and rumor has it that on the very darkest corners of the web there exists video of Ben Shapiro rapping. There is no such thing as "the news" anymore, it is just one niche in the monolithic media marketplace in ferocious completion for your drooling, doomscrolling attention, and "sober presentation of the facts" has never gotten anyone to bang that subscribe button.

Now, I don't listen to NPR anymore, and it is for exactly the reasons described, but my media consumption at this point is limited to 3blue1brown videos (veritasium can sometimes get a bit sensationalistic). Outrage politics and in group/out group signalling is a perfectly valid competitive strategy in the modern media monomarket, and the Old Media graveyard is littered with previously esteemed names in journalism who were too principled to let trending Twitter narratives drive their reporting.

The most telling part about this "debate" is conservative activists blasting center and center-left outlets for barely off-center comments, while ignoring the blatant extreme partisanship coming out of right wing media outlets like Fox.

Why do these "activists" always seem like they're operating in bad faith?

The suspension proves his point. NPR could've taken this in such a different direction. Not punishing the journalist, and instead providing evidence for their fair and accurate reporting standards in a transparent way. Instead, they got angry and went right for the suspension "without pay" for a pathetic reason.

I used to love NPR growing up.

I don’t like NPR but I also don’t like this guy. He lacks loyalty.
Funny how self-proclaimed progressives are not considered progressive by any means by liberals both in EU and Asian countries. But I guess impudence and stupidity can get you a long way in US.
I'm liberal, and in 2016 NPR failed to even say the name Bernie Sanders in any of it's election coverage during the week following his victory in the Iowa Caucuses. I rapidly lost trust in NPR. Any of the subsequent visits haven't shown any signs of reform.

I miss the good old NPR, the narrative machine that's replaced it needs to go away.

that was a dumb move, it was obvious that he wasn't happy there and probably would eventually retire/resign from NPR. I still listen to it almost every day, but it's hard to deny it has a left leaning bias. That doesn't bother me in the slightest because they back up what they say with facts or clearly delineated opinions, unlike certain other news networks.
Berliner said that the newsroom had all Democrats, and zero Republicans. Yet magically they're going to have a balanced approach anyway?

They interviewed Adam Schiff 25 times in the RussiaGate "scandal." They dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as a "non-story" and somehow they still want to claim they're non-partisan?

It might be more straightforward and honest for all you NPR-defenders to just come out and say, "It's OK when we do it, because we're right. And we're SO tired of hearing about that laptop."

Realistically there is no way to do news without a bias nowadays. A Trump supporter told me there was no war between Russia and Ukraine. I said “OK, conflict”. His reply was “mainstream media has you brainwashed”.

To cover Jan 6 do we have to say that maybe it was Trump supporters who peacefully went to the Capitol or maybe it was Antifa who stormed it - we have to treat all possible scenarios as equally likely?

In the stories he’s listing in the article, plenty of organizations were taking the “team x” positions he describes. It’s not like NPR had the only newsroom having to make choices.

Summing it up as a lack of transparency (would he rather say “fairness?”) and viewpoint diversity (“balance?”) seems somewhat disingenuous. At a higher level view, different organizations are going to take different positions. Arguably, obligated to do so.

Surely he doesn’t believe every org has to pretend there are “both sides” to every story. But if he’s no longer aligned with NPR, then perhaps the suspension is in everyone’s best interest.

I'm not much for radio.

But based on all this whinging, today's NPR sounds awesome. I may have to start listening.

This guy fails basic critical thinking; Occams razor, and Sagans Standard, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".
To a casual observer this looks like a case of,_go_broke