Monday, October 25, 2010

An Open Letter to NPR

I just received an e-mail from my local NPR affiliate, WNYC, to "double my pledge". This is the e-mail I sent in response:

To Whom It May Concern:

I will not be "doubling my pledge", or indeed renewing my pledge next year when the anniversary rolls around. The reason for my change of heart is the firing of Juan Williams. This was an inexplicable, execrable move that I simply cannot support. Please make it clear to your own management and on up the chain that there is at least a portion of your listenership that does not believe that what Williams had to say was even close to a firing offense, and that firing him as a result illustrates NPR's disrespect and intolerance for opposing viewpoints.


- James

UPDATE: To their credit, WNYC responded. Some boilerplate aside, here's the important part:

As the local New York broadcaster of NPR programming, we are always interested to hear our listeners' comments about their programming content and their organization. However, it is important to understand that our organization does not have influence in the content of NPR programming, with their staff, or in their personnel decisions. We pay NPR for the programming and news that we broadcast and, as such, are separate independent organizations.

It's not directly WNYC's fault that NPR fired Juan Williams. But they're not exactly independent, either. WNYC is part of the NPR family. I don't give money to NPR; I give to WNYC. And it seems perfectly reasonable to cut off funding to WNYC in this case. I want them upset with NPR.

The logic seems to me stronger than when people boycott a company for advertising on a show they find objectionable. The company isn't directly responsible for the show's content, but they know the basic message and can sever the relationship if it grows too burdensome. I'm putting pressure (a tiny amount in my case, but hopefully my case is but one among thousands) on WNYC so that they will pressure NPR.

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