NPR defends its journalism after senior editor says it has lost the public's trust


NPR struck back on Tuesday at its senior business editor Uri Berliner’s lengthy screed alleging his own outlet has sacrificed journalistic values and adopted progressive views on issues that have alienated Americans.

“I and my colleagues on the leadership team strongly disagree with Uri’s assessment of the quality of our journalism and the integrity of our newsroom processes,” NPR Editor-in-Chief Edith Chapin wrote to staffers in a memo, which was first reported by The New York Times. “We’re proud to stand behind the exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories. We believe that inclusion—among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage—is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world.”

NPR declined to comment beyond Chapin’s letter, which was first reported by The New York Times.

Berliner wrote in The Free Press, a digital outlet founded by Bari Weiss, that Americans have lost trust in NPR due to a lack of “viewpoint diversity” among its staff. He cited NPR’s coverage of the COVID-19 lab leak theory, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and allegations that Donald Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 election as examples of how “politics were blotting out the curiosity and independence that ought to have been driving our work.”

He also wrote that the consideration of diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with the use of language provided by journalism affinity groups, represented “the extent to which people at every level of NPR have comfortably coalesced around the progressive worldview.” Berliner specifically cited an NPR initiative collecting demographic data from every source its reporters interview, which launched in 2020 as a way for the outlet to track the diversity of its sourcing.

Berliner claimed he tried to go to management with complaints about the company’s positions and even looked up the voter registration of the D.C. newsroom, allegedly finding zero registered Republicans. When he presented those findings at a 2021 all-staff meeting, he said he was met with “profound indifference” from colleagues. “The messages were of the ‘oh wow, that’s weird’ variety as if the lopsided tally was a random anomaly rather than a critical failure of our diversity North Star,” he recalled.

Chapin, NPR’s top editor, fired back at Berliner’s dismissal of the outlet’s diversity initiatives, saying in her memo that “exploring the diverse perspectives that drive world events is necessary to our public service mission.”

“That’s why we have built-in processes to verify accuracy and why we adhere to the highest editorial standards,” she wrote. “It’s why we have a standards and practices editor as well as a public editor to stand in for the audience. It’s why we track sources—so we can expand the diversity of perspectives in our reporting. We have these internal debates, enforce strong editorial standards, and engage in processes that measure our work precisely because we recognize that nobody has the ‘view from nowhere.’”

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post