By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Off-duty reporters, political rallies and NPR (III)

The Washington Post gets it right — or at least comes closer to getting it right. Michael Calderone reports.

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  1. Brad Deltan

    Again, still not seeing NPR making any clarification between STAFF and JOURNALISTS. Not every person who works at NPR is a journalist, dammit. Does Ms. Schiller feel the guy who swabs the toilets shouldn’t attend the rally because it reflects on NPR’s objectivity?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Brad: As @C.E. Stead notes, that NPR memo is missing all kinds of distinctions, the most important of which is the difference between attending and participating.

  2. Brad Deltan

    I re-read a note about the memo on Current and noticed this line: “…[N]o matter where you work at NPR you should be very mindful that you represent the organization and its news coverage in the eyes of your friends, neighbors and others,” (emphasis added by me)

    I suppose that answers the question: she feels the guys swabbing the toilets shouldn’t go to the rally, either. I wonder if Ms.Schiller has realized that SHE represents NPR as well, and right now she’s doing a pretty bad job of it.

  3. Aaron Read

    Y’know, this reminds me of a theme at the AP Journalism one-day conference at Syracuse University last weekend. The session was supposed to be about what a quartet of commercial news directors from various markets/media (TV and radio) look for in job applicants, but started off being more about media ethics.

    Several of the directors were taking mighty strict stances on what was a “fireable offense” in terms of using canned sound or stock photography in a story.

    Finally one of them, a guy who apparently relishes his “troublemaker” status, fired off a biting comment about how incredibly hypocritical it was for these directors to be so strict on “ethics” when all of them would admit that they won’t do hard news stories about the car dealerships, lawyers and banks that buy substantial advertising time on their stations.

    That’s exactly what this feels like. Schiller’s worried about her staff’s objectivity from attending a political rally when NPR accepts millions in corporate sponsorship? I know, I know, there’s “firewalls” in place and whatnot…but if you’re going to accept the premise that there can be “journalistic integrity” when it comes to corporate sponsorship, you kinda have to accept that you can also have it when a non-journalist employee goes to a comedian’s rally.

    By Schiller’s standard, Carl Kasell should never have been allowed to be both the lead news reporter for Morning Edition while also serving as “scorekeeper” for Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me since the latter frequently has highly political guests and panelists.

  4. Aaron Read

    Well, if I’ve gone this far, perhaps I should go a little further. Today on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me I noticed a spot that’s been bothering me for weeks. It’s for a group called “The Public Notice”, and goes approximately like this

    Public Notice, an independent organization dedicated to reducing government spending. Learn more at The Public Notice dot org

    Every time I hear this, I always wonder exactly how “independent” any organization is that has such an explicitly anti-government message. So I finally dug around a little on their website and found a name: Gretchen Hamel. Thanks to FactCheck, we have all that I suspect we really need to know:

    Public Notice is a group headed by Gretchen Hamel, who has a long history of working for Republicans.

    This group describes itself as “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization.” Hamel insists that the organization is “an education advocacy group” and not a “political group.” Unlike some “super PACs” and overtly partisan groups, it does not attack specific candidates. But it does echo Republican campaign themes and attacks federal spending programs identified with Democrats.

  5. BP Myers

    Heard those commercials a few months ago incessantly @Aaron and did the same research you did. Check out the other domains hosted on the “Public Notice” website:

    Non-profit and non-partisan, indeed.

  6. Aaron Read

    @BP – thanks for bringing that to my attention. I’m not sure if the technical aspects are quite what’s implied here…for example, does this explicitly mean that “Public Notice” is linked to Tom Delay and anti-Evan Bayh groups, simply because and and are all on the same server?

    If so, as a station manager of an NPR affiliate, I think I need to have a word with the NPR Ombudsman.

  7. BP Myers

    @Aaron Read says: does this explicitly mean that “Public Notice” is linked to Tom Delay and anti-Evan Bayh groups

    It would be a grand coincidence if it happened merely by happenstance, don’t you think?

    Sounds like a job for . . . journalism.

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