NPR Senior Editor Blasts Lack of ‘Viewpoint Diversity’ After Leftward Lurch: ‘Open-Minded Spirit No Longer Exists’

“Now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America,” writes 25-year veteran and current business editor Uri Berliner

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

National Public Radio has undergone a recent leftward shift that is “devastating both for its journalism and its business model,” Uri Berliner, a 25-year NPR veteran and current senior business editor, wrote in a scathing, intimately detailed op-ed published Tuesday on The Free Press.

Berliner, who described himself as a Subaru-driving, Sarah Lawrence-educated “stereotype NPR listener,” gives an intimate account of NPR’s “off the rails” coverage biases – like its continuing refusal to acknowledge the Wuhan lab-leak theory or the Hunter Biden laptop story – to the internal process of meticulously tracking the race, gender and ethnic identities of all interviewees.

“If you are conservative, you will read this and say, ‘Duh, it’s always been this way,’” Berliner wrote. “But it hasn’t.”

Berliner noted that as recently as 2011, NPR’s audience self-reported as roughly one-quarter each politically conservative and “middle-of-the-road,” with 37% claiming liberal leanings. But by 2023, conservative listeners dwindled to 11%, with 21% “middle of the road” and 67% “very” or “somewhat” liberal.

“An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America,” Berliner said. “That wouldn’t be a problem for an openly polemical news outlet serving a niche audience. But for NPR, which purports to consider all things, it’s devastating both for its journalism and its business model.”

NPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday from TheWrap. New York Times media reporter Ben Mullin, however, X-posted a response from NPR editor-in-chief Edith Chapin, saying she and the leadership team “strongly disagree with Uri’s assessment of the quality of our journalism.”

In it, Chapin also addressed one of the illuminating details in Berliner’s piece – that reporters companywide are required to ask all interviewed sources about their identity markers, then enter that information into a centralized database for analysis. The CEO offered the practice as proof that NPR aims to “adhere to the highest editorial standards.”

“It’s why we track sources,” she continues, “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.’”

Berliner’s piece outlined other reporting “miscues,” like 25 interviews with California Rep. Adam Schiff about the Russian collusion investigation that went nowhere and NPR’s ongoing disregard of emerging evidence about the COVID-19 origin and Hunter Biden laptop stories.

Berliner wrote that he on several occasions tried to communicate his concerns to upper management, including former CEO John Lansing, who the veteran editor described as a suddenly vigorous champion for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives immediately following the murder of George Floyd.

After that, “race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace,” Berliner said, describing the outcome as “a growing DEI staff” with regular meetings, monthly “dialogues” and a rapidly fractioning collection of affinity groups who were swiftly given power over language and reporting standards.

Berliner said all the while, his open concerns never got him an audience with NPR leadership.

“I won’t speculate why [a meeting with Lansing] never happened,” Berliner wrote. “But what’s indisputable is that no one in a C-suite or upper management position has chosen to deal with the lack of viewpoint diversity at NPR and how that affects our journalism. Which is a shame … NPR’s news audience in recent years has become less diverse, not more so.”

Comments

3 responses to “NPR Senior Editor Blasts Lack of ‘Viewpoint Diversity’ After Leftward Lurch: ‘Open-Minded Spirit No Longer Exists’”

  1. sickasickos Avatar
    sickasickos

    While I too am sick of all the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion’s endless & ever-expanding Gender ID categories & inflicting drag queen story tellers on toddlers at public libraries or the minority’s personal pronouns (BINARY they/them for nonbinary females & zi-zim/hir-hir f or non-binary males) & terms like “pregnant PEOPLE” (so as not to offend a trangendered “male”) on the MAJORITY population, I can’t imagine NPR reporting that the white nationalist christofascist/zionazi totally demented GOP is the least bit rational.

  2. KC Avatar
    KC

    I am an unaffiliated voter and hold many centrist views. I used to be a dedicated and enthusiastic NPR listener and have been saddened by its changes. I used to defend it when encountering accusations that it was liberally biased. Then slowly I started to realize there might be something to the accusations and now it is undeniable to the point I wonder how it continues to receive taxpayer support. Even when I agree with the viewpoint being presented, I don’t like the bias manner in which it is reported. I want my views to expand and I want to hear multiple viewpoints, not the same one again and again. I am saddened that NPR has so narrowed the audience it reaches that it has become a punchline. Due to past loyalties it is still one of my car radio presets and I tap in, fingers crossed, from time to time. The vast majority of times I switch to another station within the minute. This has less to do with the overwhelming bias and more to do with the fact that NPR no longer brings interesting content. It is the same content repackaged again and again. The quirky, upbeat, and interesting is long gone. 

    1. iLogos Avatar
      iLogos

      The conservatives shifting to the right and becoming more phobic of every viewpoint or person that doesn’t reflect insular view of “the America they grew up in” shouldn’t be surprising it is what conservatives have always done.

      Congratulations on growing old enough to resent change or the implication that the America you grew up in was never as rosey as you thought for a significant portion of the population.

      Fair and fact-based reporting is considered leftist only by those who prefer to believe they are correct rather than change their mind.

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