More NHPR, But Not What You’re Used To…

I had my first piece for Word of Mouth, a really cool program on arts, culture and new trends and ideas today. It was a story about an arts program, the Caravanserai, touring rural New Hampshire. The introduction of Islamic sounds in the North Country fit the bill of what they were looking for, so they contacted me about doing a story. There were some challenges (several of the performances I was planning to go to either got shortened or cancelled), but all in all I think it came together well.


I might try to mash the radio story together with the video I did and make a stronger piece all around. Who knows. We’ll see.

Drums and Things

I just finished putting together a video project I was working on for the paper and elsewhere. It was an afternoon/evening of shooting and editing. I think it came together well, considering the limited resources I had to put into it. It’s still uploading, but as soon as it’s finished I’ll be sure to post it. It’s alway fun to try something new.

Objective To A Fault

Did you hear about this public radio producer fired for serving as a spokesperson at a protest? I’m not sure that makes much sense. She hosted Soundprint, a documentary program that, by the look of its website, is not exactly focused on the news of the day. Also hosted an opera program that NPR distributes.

As a reporter I expect to not be able to voice my opinion as a spokesperson for a protest or a political organization, (One could argue I could have  more impact by covering a protest or a politician than I ever could by supporting them…) but I don’t believe every member of a news organization should be bound in the same way. Should the arts and entertainment editor be restricted from attending a political rally? I don’t see why not. They won’t be covering it the next day. Should freelancers who contribute sports stories be expected to keep their lawn clean of political signs? That makes no sense.

I know a news photographer who is an avowed liberal. Does that mean he should be blacklisted? No. His photos are fantastic, whether they are of Republican candidates or protesters. At some point political leanings cease to matter. This producers, it seems, was not a reporter, and was not someone who should have been expected to keep a low profile. I just don’t see what she did wrong.

I have yet to understand just what role NPR had, but it is the latest news connected to the organization raises concerns. Journalists in the newsroom need to be held to high standards of objectivity (such as it is), but the line stops there. Get outside the newsroom and you should be free to express your views. I have yet to see anything that explains why this producer was on the wrong side of that equation.

Update: Here is an article that lays out NPR’s position a bit better. I think it’s a stretch.

Update Update: Here is the NPR ombudsman’s take. I still don’t get it. Ethics policies limiting employee behavior should extend beyond the newsroom. Media companies should be purged of political opinion, they just shouldn’t go on air as “objective journalism.”

What’s an Israeli Worth?

In case you haven’t been following it, Israel traded almost 500 Palestinian prisoners for one captured Israeli solder today. More than 500 additional Palestinian captives are due to be released soon as part of the deal.

I heard coverage that the takeaway for some Palestinians was kidnapping soldiers works. Can’t argue that with this deal.

I, meanwhile, had to wonder how the calculus makes sense for either side. If the Israeli government equates one soldier to 1,000 Palestinians it may work out in the Palestinians’ favor this time, but over the long haul Hamas would be ill advised to endorse the trade. Embracing an arrangement where an individual from your ethnic group is explicitly valued at 1/1,000th that of your rival is bad policy. Palestinians may have felt in the past they weren’t treated as equals, but now they’ve established the exact ratio, the market price, the exchange rate, for their people.

It isn’t in their favor because it embraces the idea they are worth less than their Israeli adversaries. African slaves, at least, were counted as 3/5ths of a white man in early America; 1/1,000th of an Israeli seems a far worse deal.

I haven’t heard much about “fuzzy math” in the news coverage of this event thus far. I couldn’t let it just slip by.