Originally published: March 4, 2010
Last updated: March 4, 2010 - 9:12pm
National Public Radio President Vivian Schiller has animated the place with the energy of renewed ambition, a rededication to producing serious journalism. Her strategy rests on three pillars: expand original reporting at the national and local levels; provide free access to public media content regardless of platform; and serve audiences of all backgrounds and interests.
To do all that, she wants to work in partnership with NPR's member stations as well as independent producers and some of the new nonprofit journalism units springing up around the country. "I've never been more optimistic about NPR than I am right now," said Ellen Weiss, a twenty-seven-year NPR veteran who is senior vice president of news. Although she mourns the destruction at traditional media like newspapers caused by shrinking revenue and fleeing readers, Weiss sees a yawning gap that can be filled with the kind of public-service journalism that is NPR's sweet spot. "We occupy a unique place in the cultural and journalistic ecosystem," she said. "It's an opportunity, and we want to seize it." This excited buzz is not easy to maintain, especially at a time when the economy is struggling and NPR is projected to lose money again this year. Internally, some NPR journalists fear the focus on multiple content platforms will dull the concentration on NPR's radio excellence. Externally, managers of some member stations believe NPR will attempt to bypass them altogether and reach listeners directly online, potentially upsetting their base of funding.
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