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Marketplace Scratch Pad

NPR clears its doorstep

Scott Jagow Mar 13, 2009

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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