NPR Editor’s Critical Op-Ed Ignites Debate Over Political Bias in Journalism: ‘This Essay Has It Backwards’

Some argued a shift in coverage was forced on the industry by the nature of the Republican Party since the election of Trump

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

A scathing op-ed from NPR veteran and current senior business editor Uri Berliner published in The Free Press on Tuesday has intensified debates over whether the publicly funded news organization has adopted a partisan lean in recent years. 

In the piece, Berliner details a culture shift at the organization, in which “An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.”

Berliner argued that NPR is plagued with an “absence of viewpoint diversity,” which he considers to be a result of leadership’s emphasis on promoting diversity and inclusion on the basis of race and sexual orientation. He also claims that he found “87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans.”

NPR editor-in-chief Edith Chapin defended the organization in response to the piece, saying she the leadership team “strongly disagree with Uri’s assessment of the quality of our journalism.”

While Chapin backed the “exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories,” she added that “None of our work is above scrutiny or critique. We must have vigorous discussions in the newsroom about how we serve the public as a whole.”

According to NPR media reporter David Folkenflik, several journalists inside the organization question how they can proceed with Berliner as a colleague, with concerns about whether he can be a trusted member of NPR in the aftermath of the op-ed. Additionally, Berliner did not seek NPR’s approval to publish the piece, nor did he seek comment from the organization ahead of time; though he does say in his piece that he sought to raise his concerns with leadership on several occasions.

Meanwhile, outside of the organization, debates regarding the content of Berliner’s piece have sprouted up across social media, with many coming to the defense of the storied NPR institution. 

Some argued that the shift that occurred in political coverage across the media industry was forced on institutions due to the changing nature of the Republican Party since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. 

Some came to Berliner’s defense, including former NPR vice president for news Jeffrey Dvorkin who vouched for the changes to the organization. 

Comments

One response to “NPR Editor’s Critical Op-Ed Ignites Debate Over Political Bias in Journalism: ‘This Essay Has It Backwards’”

  1. Albert Wolfsson Avatar
    Albert Wolfsson

    The critics of Berliner’s piece have it COMPLETELY wrong. What did self-professed liberals believe in 2011? Defense of DOMA, abortion “Rare, Safe and Legal”, free speech, AGAINST FBI, CIA and NSA surveillance of US Citizens without proper predication and warrants, merit-based immigration, LESS involvement in foreign conflicts, no genital mutilation of children – especially without parental consent. On ALL of those issues, liberals and Democrats have swung wildly, while the Conservative and “Republican” positions on those issues have remained tethered to PRINCIPLES – not which way the voting public winds blow. If anything, conservatives have evolved to support same-sex marriage. Liberals have evolved – into extremists.

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