Tag Archives: NPR

NPR: masters of audio editing

My career in print journalism enabled me to do some very cool things, see some fabulous places, cover compelling stories — and it exposed me to the magic of other media.

I want to offer a good word or three to National Public Radio.

I was given an opportunity, as the editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, on three occasions to take part in NPR interviews. Two of them involved the 2008 presidential election. NPR wanted to chronicle the outlook on the election as it appeared to us in the Texas Panhandle; the other party in the interviews was Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. NPR sought the views of editors from disparate regions of the country: heavily Republican Texas and “swing-state” southern Ohio.

The other interview involved President Obama’s economic stimulus package and its impact on our respective regions.

Here is what I wrote in February 2010:

NPR reaches out to the heartland

What I want to recall briefly here is how deftly NPR edited my comments to make them suitable for airing on the public airwaves.

High Plains Public Radio — an NPR affiliate — had a recording studio in downtown Amarillo. I was able to go to the studio and take part in the interview with the Washington, D.C.-based “Morning Edition” program.

What astounded me at the time — and still boggles my mind to this day — is how well NPR edited my comments. They eliminated the occasional stammer and extraneous verbiage without changing the context of my statements to the NPR interviewer. Kevin Riley, the other person being interviewed, sounded much more comfortable with radio. As for myself, it’s not my thing and I was nervous as the dickens every time I took part in this process.

It’s a remarkable skill that continues to amaze me.

NPR receives criticism from time to time, mostly from conservatives who allege the network has a “liberal bias.” My own experience with NPR did not reveal any such bias. I found NPR to be professional to the “nth” degree.

Moreover, the editors at NPR exhibited a magician’s skill at making a nervous newspaper editor sound like an experienced hand at radio.

Weaken libel laws? No can do, Mr. President

Donald John Trump wants to make it easier to sue publications for libel. The president vowed to change laws he called a “sham” and a “disgrace.”

Really, Mr. President?

He made the vow at the start of a Cabinet meeting in the White House.

Where can I start? I’ll give it a shot.

Trump said journalists cannot write stories that are knowingly false and then smile while they count their money as it pours into their bank account.

True enough, Mr. President. Except that current libel laws ensure that those who publish “knowingly false” stories are punished.

As for whether the federal government can rewrite the law, I need to remind Donald Trump that the U.S. Constitution declares in the First Amendment that there should be a “free press” that is allowed to do its job without government interference.

The founders wanted to ensure that a free press could function without fear of intimidation and, thus, established a high bar for public officials to clear if they decide to sue for libel.

The object of Trump’s tirade clearly is the publication of “Fire and Fury,” the highly controversial book written by journalist Michael Wolff, who reports some mighty scathing remarks from former and current White House staffers who had some disparaging things to say about Donald Trump. The president calls it all fiction; Wolff, of course, stands by his reporting in the book.

National Public Radio reports: And this is hardly the first time Trump has railed against libel laws, which as a matter of practice are made by the states and backed by a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that sets a high bar for public figures wanting to prove libel.

So, what is left for Trump to do? He can nominate Supreme Court justices who are willing to water down the First Amendment. However, he then sets up a proverbial “litmus test” for potential appointees.

Would he dare ask them prior to selecting them whether they would pledge a sort of loyalty to the president by agreeing beforehand to rule favorably on a libel case that comes before the nation’s highest court?

Now that I think about it, I believe he would … to his shame!

Trump’s war on the media keeps getting hotter.

Frightening … and dangerous.

Mind-boggling series of events keeps head spinning

My mind is officially boggled.

I awoke this morning, looked at my social media news feed and saw that NBC fired “Today” co-host Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual conduct.” It didn’t end with that stunning announcement.

Later today, I saw that NPR icon Garrison Keillor also has been let go by the public radio network for, um, similar conduct.

This is getting even more stunning than it was before.

NBC went straight for the throat in canning Lauer. The network didn’t wait for any further substantiation of the allegation that came from a network colleague. At this moment, I don’t even know the particulars of what the woman accused Lauer of doing to her.

The network acted immediately on hearing what I am going to presume it believes was a credible accusation.

Network news icons are falling like tall timber. Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor. Those are just the biggest of the big names. Then we have the likes of Mark Halperin and Glenn Thrush who have lost their jobs over accusations of misbehavior with women.

When is this going to end?

I haven’t even mentioned — until this very minute — the accusations that have sullied the reputations of political leaders. It’s a bipartisan affliction.

I’m beginning to think that employers will need to revamp the applications they ask prospective employees to fill out. Many businesses ask applicants if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony. That’s fine.

They will now likely have to ask: Have you ever committed an act that someone could construe to be sexual harassment … or worse?

This wave of dismissals amid accusations looks for all the world like a purging that needs to occur.

Media getting the lashing they deserve

It hurts a bit to say this, but the so-called “mainstream media” are getting trashed — for the right reasons.

The media have been criticized for the slant of their coverage of news events, of politicians. Conservatives have labeled the MSM as tools of the liberal political establishment. I haven’t bought into that argument.

What’s happening now to the media, though, is an examination of a culture that seems to pervade it. We are witnessing the toppling of media heavyweights because of the way they behave toward women … allegedly.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News: gone; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; he’s toast; Mark Halperin of MSNBC: he’s outta there; Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and MSNBC: he, too, is gone; Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio: see ya later.

What do these men have in common? They all were accused by women of making sexual advances on them, of committing acts of sexual harassment, of sexual abuse. The allegations include groping, prancing around in the nude, making inappropriate remarks … and some things I probably shouldn’t mention here because they’re in poor taste.

The word now is that media outlets are soul-searching. They are schooling their employees — the males at least — on how to behave, how to treat their female colleagues.

What gives this story its extra legs quite arguably is that the media have been covering the sexual misdeeds of others, namely politicians and entertainment tycoons. That coverage has exposed media companies — and the men who report and comment on others’ conduct — to the very revelations we have learned about their own behavior.

As Politico has reported: “We have robust policies in place and have become more focused on communicating those policies across the organization,” said New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email. “In recent weeks, we’ve reminded employees of our Anti-Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Non-Discrimination policies and we’ve highlighted the many ways an employee can raise an issue or file a complaint, including through an anonymous hotline.”

That’s fine. Now it’s time for the Times and other media outlets to root out the bad actors within their ranks immediately.

Anthony Weiner … once more

So help me, I don’t know why I’m even remotely interested in Anthony Weiner.

But I am. Remotely interested, that is.

The former loudmouth New York Democratic congressman is facing a 21-month prison sentence for knowingly sending sexually explicit text messages to an underage girl.

This clown has destroyed his marriage to a brilliant political operative. He has shredded his own political career. He has made a mockery of himself and disgraced the New York congressional district voters who placed their trust in him to obey the law. Of the consequences mentioned here, I suppose the only one that gives me a mild case of regret is constituent trust he destroyed because of his shameful conduct.

Weiner is going to appeal his sentence. He ought to be thankful that’s all he got from the federal judge, Denise Cote. He could have faced a longer prison term. He’s also going to serve a three-year probationary period.

Here is now National Public Radio reported his sentencing.

Weiner made a bit of a national name for himself initially because he was such a gasbag while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. There was a particularly bizarre moment on the House floor when congress members were debating the cost of health care for first responders. Weiner exploded in anger that some Republicans opposed spending the amount of money that Weiner wanted spent.

This guy’s “sexting” escapades eventually became part of the story involving his wife and her work with the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Whatever. He’s gone to trail. He’s been convicted. The judge has sentenced him to nearly two years in a federal lockup.

Please … now. Just go away.

NPR sought to pay tribute, and then …

National Public Radio has this tradition of delivering the words of the Declaration of Independence to its listeners.

Its intent is to pay tribute to the very foundation of this great nation. Ol’ Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration to inform King George III of the many grievances the colonies had against his ham-fisted rule.

Well, this year, NPR’s tweeting of the Declaration met some angry response. Some fans of Donald J. Trump thought NPR was calling for insurrection against the government led by the 45th president of the United States.

Seriously, I do not know whether to laugh, cry, scream, slap the side of my noggin, just throw up my hands in disgust … or just, well, throw up.

Check out the reaction

Some supporters of the president flipped out. They didn’t recognize the words of Declaration of Independence.

You’ve heard the saying about how “No good deed goes unpunished”?

Well. There you go, NPR.

 

Listen up, Congress: Americans hate the health care ‘reform’

Dear Members of Congress,

Y’all are going home for a couple of weeks. Some of y’all are going to conduct town hall meetings with your constituents, your “bosses,” the folks who decide whether to vote for you — and whose money pays your salary.

I just got word of a new poll. It says that just 17 percent of Americans favor the Republican Senate version of a health care insurance overhaul. That’s about the same level of (non)support that the House of Representatives version got when the GOP caucus decided to send the issue over to the Senate.

At least one of your House colleagues, by the way, is declining to meet face to face with his bosses. That would be Republican Mac Thornberry. He’s my congressman. He decided a while back that he didn’t need to hear from just plain folks. The last so-called “town hall meeting” he had was with local business leaders, tycoons, pillars of the community. He wanted to inform them of his desire to see Congress shed some of the Obama administration’s regulations. I reckon he got a friendly reception.

But back to the point here.

That poll doesn’t bode well for the future of the GOP plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act — if House members and senators are going to heed its findings. If you truly are going to “represent” your constituents, then you need to rethink your approach. It cannot be a Republican-only effort. There appears to be a need to include Democrats in this process. Hey, I’ve heard some Democrats say in public that they want to work with their Republican “friends.” But the GOP leadership — so far — is having none of it.

The president calls the House health care plan “mean.” He said he could support a plan with “heart.” The Senate version appears to many of us to be as heartless as the House plan. It takes too much money from Medicaid and according to the Congressional Budget Office — I am sure you are now aware — the plan will cost 22 million Americans their health coverage over the next decade.

That’s not a plan with “heart,” you lawmakers.

Enjoy your time away from D.C. Have a good time over the Fourth of July. Celebrate this great nation’s birthday.

While you’re at home, though, listen carefully to what your constituents — your bosses — are telling you. You’ll learn something.

Hands off PBS, NPR, Mr. President

Now he’s done it!

The president of the United States has just gored my ox. He has hit me where it hurts. He has taken aim at a government institution I revere.

Donald J. Trump is proposing elimination of public money that goes to National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting … a major arm of the Public Broadcasting Service; also slated for elimination is the National Endowment for the Arts.

Trump proposes zeroing out about $445 million for CPB and NPR. Wiping it out. No more public money for public broadcasting, either radio or television.

“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement.

“We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting,” Kerger continued. “The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

So, with that the president wants to eliminate an element of public spending that in the grand scheme amounts to tossing a BB into the ocean, but which brings tangible benefit for millions of Americans.

I have a dog in this particular fight … more or less.

Not long after I left my job in print journalism in the late summer of 2012, I signed on as a freelance blogger for Panhandle PBS, the organization formerly known around the Panhandle as KACV-TV, based at Amarillo College. I wrote about public affairs television. My text was published on Panhandle PBS’s website.

I got great satisfaction writing the blog and I enjoyed my relationship with the public TV station immensely. It ended when the station went through some changes and decided to divert its “resources” toward more on-air production of local programming.

We bid each other adieu. However, I continue to love PBS and what it brings to the quality of life of all Americans, especially to those of us in the Texas Panhandle. Its programming features some first-rate, top-drawer, high-level production. Ken Burns’s documentary series on the Dust Bowl — and its impact on the High Plains region — will remain with me for as long as I draw breath.

I would hate with every fiber of my being seeing the government remove itself from that kind of programming.

And for what purpose? So we can buy more bombs, missiles and other weapons of war — as if we don’t have enough of it already to destroy Planet Earth a billion times over.

Am I angry over this budget proposal? You’re damn right I am!

Do not do this, Mr. President and Congress.

HPPR quenches news junkies’ thirst

I am a happy radio listener.

High Plains residents — those of us who like news, information and well-reasoned analysis of current events — are getting an additional treat on our radio dial.

It’s called 9.49 Connect. It’s an expanded news offering provided by High Plains Public Radio. When HPPR’s morning news shows go off the air — while being broadcast simultaneously on 94.9 and 105.7 FM — 94.9 Connect stays on the air with more news and commentary.

HPPR rolled out its expanded news offering this past week. In doing so, it has decided to quench the thirst for news junkies such as yours truly.

National Public Radio for too long has gotten a bad rap by those who suggest it is some sort of “liberal organ” that only squishy lefties would appreciate.

Wrong, man! Double wrong! Triple wrong!

If you’ll pardon my lifting a common mantra from the 2016 presidential election, NPR “tells it like it is.” So does its affiliate station, HPPR, which is headquartered in Garden City, Kan.

I am happy to sing the praises of a non-commercial radio station, given that public radio relies on listener support and corporate “underwriters.”

And make no mistake, its news presentation strides down the straight and narrow. It doesn’t pepper its coverage with buzz words and partisan rhetoric, which I suppose is what its critics — mainly those on the far right — wish it would do.

Only they want the news slanted in their direction.

High Plains Public Radio has just enhanced the quality of life for public radio listeners — and news junkies — across our vast region.

Thank you, HPPR.

NPR far from being a ‘propaganda’ vehicle

I hate disagreeing with one of the great editorialists of our time, but I feel the need to make a point or two about a news medium that is about to expand its presence in the Texas Panhandle.

Paul Greenberg, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a man I consider to be a friend, has referred to National Public Radio as “National Propaganda Radio.”

Ouch, man!

Greenberg is a noted conservative columnist who works these days for the (Little Rock) Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. So, his view of NPR perhaps is tainted a bit by his own political leaning.

The Panhandle version of NPR, High Plains Public Radio headquartered in Garden City, Kan., is set to launch an expanded news/information service that will be located at 94.9 FM on the radio dial. It will broadcast news 24/7. HPPR is having a ceremony on Monday at its downtown Amarillo office to mark the occasion.

This is a big deal on a number of levels.

Understand that the Texas Panhandle is as right wing in its outlook as any region in the country. It once was known to be fertile ground for isolationist groups such as the John Birch Society, the folks who disdain the United Nations, fearing it’s a cover for a worldwide takeover of every nation’s sovereignty.

But HPPR sought contributions from listeners in the region to launch the all-news system. It received them.

Public radio long has been the bogeyman of right wingers, who insist that it’s nothing but a liberal mouthpiece, that is spouts lies, tilts the news toward the left, that it serves as a propaganda organ for squishy liberal thinkers.

As Col. Sherman T. Potter would say: buffalo bagels!

A friend and former colleague of mine who used to work at HPPR in Amarillo once told me that NPR’s gurus made sure that on-air news presenters and reporters avoided using the term “reform” to describe the Affordable Care Act. “Reform,” my friend said, implies an improvement over existing policy and NPR wanted to be sure to avoid the appearance of bias in its reporting of this highly controversial public policy. NPR’s preferred term was “overhaul,” he said. Fair enough.

I learned long ago when I started my career in print journalism that bias — without exception — is a product of one’s own world view. If you disagree with someone else’s view, then that person is “biased.” One rarely sees or hears of people acknowledging their own bias. I received a good bit of that sort of criticism during nearly four decades in journalism, most of which I spent writing opinions for newspapers.

Do I have my own bias? Sure I do. Do I gravitate toward certain news media over others because I perceive some media taint their news with “bias”? Yes again.

Public radio, though, is a different animal altogether. Its presentation of news is as fair as fair gets. It even has fans and followers who often don’t want to acknowledge it.

I recall a conversation I had with a key aide to U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon Republican who has represented the 13th Congressional District since 1995. This source — who also happens to be a friend — actually whispered to me over the phone that many on Thornberry’s staff “listen to NPR.”

Why are you whispering? I asked. My friend said, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s just what we do around here.”

Fear not. NPR isn’t out to poison anyone’s mind. It’s here only to provide news we can use … in whatever way we choose.

And it damn sure isn’t propaganda.