A listener called this week about what he felt was incomplete reporting by NPR on a story. He then added:
You people ask for our contributions, and you seem to think that it’s easy for us to contact you. I had to look deep to get your telephone number. I want you to know that when you go online, you can’t get anything that says Contact or Feedback under NPR… there’s items in your stories that need to be questioned, and I would appreciate it if you made the effort to stop.
For this listener and others, we do have a list of contacts for the station at the bottom of every page at whqr.org – station address, phone number, email address, as well as the phone numbers and email for Feedback. There’s also a link to NPR’s home page if your message is for them.
A couple of items in the past week showed the power of coincidence. When coincidences don’t occur, we don’t notice them; but when they do, things stand out. For example, NPR did a story about Amazon and its patent application for algorithms that would anticipate customers’ buying practices in advance and ship items out even before they had been ordered. Immediately following that was a national underwriting credit for Amazon. Clearly the development side of NPR, which schedules underwriting credits, had no idea that the news department was scheduling a story about Amazon, and vice versa. That’s the way it should be – keep editorial and promotion in separate boxes so that neither can affect the other.
The result can sometimes be a humorous, and sometimes jarring, but it’s a coincidence. We had two such coincidences on our air last week. We’re glad to have Wilmington International Airport as a station underwriter. Their message had mentioned non-stop flights to National Airport in DC. And one aired about 10 minutes after a story about the loss of those flights due to the American Airlines – US Airways merger.
And on a more serious note, an NPR story about alleged child abuse concerning the Catholic archdiocese of Chicago was followed by a local announcement from another valued underwriter, St. Mary Elementary School. More than one listener found this jarring. Here’s one response:
I just think it’s detrimental and a little bit inflammatory, in a way. This probably wasn’t intentional. I don’t know if you guys can screen the shows or what’s going on news-wise before the commercial break, but I just kinda wanted to let y’all know. And maybe you don’t care anyway, I don’t know.
Well, we certainly do care, and we agree that this juxtaposition could and should have been avoided. Thank you for the message.
And here’s a message that made my day, from Erika:
I am writing this as a brief love note to the station. I listen to Morning Edition daily for the best in depth reporting available. I know I stay more informed as a result. More than that, my children who ride to school every morning are far more informed than their peers for having listened. Countless meaningful family discussions have resulted from topics in stories we listened to together... When pledge time comes around they are eager to be sure we made our contribution. They are still in elementary school but I believe they will be lifetime fans of public radio. They even like to hear the variety of commentators and commentaries presented in the morning... We as a family take note of the businesses that underwrite the station and make an effort to patronize them when we can as I know they value what value. I am so happy that I live in a community with such a wonderful community resource as this station. Keep up the good work!