NPR clears its doorstep

NPR has decided to cancel all of its newspaper subscriptions, except for the Wall Street Journal. Romenesko posted an internal NPR memo that says staffers have until today to appeal this decision: "This is a cost saving measure company wide."

Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green picked up on the story and wrote this:

Memo to self: cancel pledges to WFCR and WNPR.

Newsbusters goes for the jugular on a few NPR salaries:

"Have you considered that paying salaries of $300,000 or more might be a bigger problem than paying a few quarters for the morning papers?"

I'll point out some things. One, newspapers have been cutting subscriptions to each other for some time now. Two, at Marketplace, we just reviewed our subscriptions to make sure we're being as prudent as possible. Everybody's looking for places to trim their budgets. NPR and our company, American Public Media, have cut jobs.

Public radio listeners are certainly considering their own personal budgets in deciding how much to pledge. But our non-profit model still relies heavily on listener support. That money allows NPR and APM to do their own coverage of the news, not just read someone else's.

My first job in journalism was at a newspaper. I get it. But I also know we're going through a sea-change in the way people get their news.

I'd really like to know what you think about this.

And to my point about sea-change, Sky News has appointed a Twitter correspondent. They're not just covering Twitter, they'll be watching the website for breaking news.

I like the way the Guardian characterizes this:

Half of me thinks this the inevitable, ludicrous conclusion of the frenzied Twitter coverage we've seen in the past few weeks, and it will last about as long as the Reuters' Second Life correspondent. The other half thinks it rather misses the point, which is that Twitter should be a tool that any forward-thinking journalist tries out, learns and then incorporates into their news gathering.

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If NPR is concerned about the quality of financial reporting it would cancel its subscription to WSJ and subscribe to the Financial Times. NPR's news reporting is nowadays highly superficial when compared with the far more incisive reporting and argument on various economics blogs or in FT. As for newspapers, the medium still provides two advantages. First, newsprint is easier to read because it is easier on one's eyes. Second, a newspaper can be quickly scanned / navigated; we do not need to learn the user interface. The second distinctive advantage helps efficiency. The first distinctive advantage makes them better for longer stories such as investigative reporting. Unfortunately, the quality of newspaper writing has declined and we Americans have traded our interest in understanding for partisan enthusiasms.


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