NPR Launches Multi-Level Review Process in Response to Senior Editor’s Criticism of Outlet’s Wokeness

“It is deeply simplistic to assert that the diversity of America can be reduced to any particular set of beliefs,” President/CEO Katherine Maher writes

NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NPR’s president/CEO Katherine Maher responded to widely spread criticism of the organization from senior business editor Uri Beliner, outlining new initiatives to “expand our efforts to understand how to serve our nation better.”

Berliner wrote an opinion piece for Bari Weiss’ The Free Press that depicted a culture at NPR that has an “absence of viewpoint diversity,” and that as a result, “predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.”

In response, Maher noted that while she welcomes questions about whether the organization is properly serving its audience, “Questioning whether our people are serving our mission with integrity, based on little more than the recognition of their identity, is profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.”

“It is deeply simplistic to assert that the diversity of America can be reduced to any particular set of beliefs, and faulty reasoning to infer that identity is determinative of one’s thoughts or political leanings,” Maher wrote, referencing Berliner’s argument that the organization lacks a balance in “viewpoint diversity.”

Maher added, “We fulfill our mission best when we look and sound like the country we serve.”

“It is true that our audiences have unquestionably changed over the course of the past two decades,” the top NPR executive noted, acknowledging that the audience has become younger and more diverse. 

Maher added that NPR “must invest in the resources that will allow us to be as curious as the audiences we serve, and expand our efforts to understand how to serve our nation better.”

The organization recently finished research, the president/CEO said, with data coming from a “wide range of listeners across the country, learning in detail what they think about NPR and how they view our journalism.”

“Over the next two years we plan to conduct audience research across our entire portfolio of programming, in order to give ourselves the insight we need to extend the depth and breadth of our service to the American public,” Maher added. 

NPR will implement quarterly network-wide editorial planning and review meetings, which will serve as a “venue for NPR newsroom leadership to hear directly from Member organization editorial leaders on how our journalism serves the needs of audiences in their communities.”

According to Maher, NPR will establish a “broad-based, rotating group that will meet monthly to review our coverage across all platforms,” which will be spearheaded by Interim Chief Content Officer Edith Chapin.

“Continuing to uphold our excellence with confidence, having inclusive conversations that bridge perspectives, and learning more about the audiences we serve in order to continue to grow and thrive, adding more light to the illumination of who we are as a shared body public,” Maher concluded. 

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