Paging the Chilean miner rescue teams. They need you in Washington D.C. this week to help extricate NPR from the hole it continues to dig itself into over banning its employees from attending –or even watching from the sidelines– the upcoming Stewart-Colbert rallies on the mall.
NPR’s official Church Lady ombudsman, Alicia Shepard engages in some truly sophistic mumblings about the controversial ban, mostly lamenting how the ban was poorly handled PR-wise, while defending its substance. Reading through this sludge reminds me of my college days, forty years ago, when I would have to peruse the ideological tracts of small Marxist-Leninist cults. Ahhh, but such is the nature of orthodoxy, no? After all, IT IS WRITTEN.
Well, “Nothing is written!” as Peter O’Toole exclaims to Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia. Except for Ms. Shepard. Everything is already pre-determined by The Code, the holy script (presumably guarded by that elite class of orange-clad primates in The Planet of The Apes). And, as was the case with those hairy, cinematic keepers of the truth, it is her exalted duty to interpret the secret books for us chimps, much the same way priests and other charlatans interpret the Word of God for their own flocks of Sheeple.
The real problem, you see, is the “dark side” of the Internet as Shepard puts it. All us pajama-clad bloggers just ganged up and raped poor old NPR, without fully understanding what is written in Paragrah 9, Section 347, Book Three of the Revered Ethical Code of the Church of Latter Day Journalists. The net did a “lousy job,” she says in interpreting the latest decree from the infallible NPR managers, unlike the stellar work done, say, by the “legitimate” New York Times in its once-in-a-lifetime reporting on Curveball during the stampede to the catastrophic war in Iraq. Thank heavens no lousy bloggers stuck their nose under the tent on that one. One can only imagine the quagmire we would have been tossed into!
Jeff Jarvis, who happens to be an old newspaper guy, a Web pioneer and a leading J-School innovator, rips Shepard to shreds in this fine piece. He also notes with barely concealed glee that Shepard is on her way out. Hopefully, NPR’s new ombuds will be someone who actually understands the Web and how it is changing everything. Of course, ten years from now it won’t matter because there will be no more “appointment radio” and that will be that. I suspect by then NPR will fully get how the Web works.
Earlier in the day, Jarvis had written a good piece on his own blog detailing exactly where NPR has missed the boat. Even if you sanctify the illusion of “impartiality,” why would you encourage your reporters to be ignorant and non-observant of major societal events? Better to be engaged than to be celibate?
Well, don’t get lathered up. it’s all just a simple PR problem that could have been avoided with a more cleverly written press release. Something more important than truth and passion. Shepard concludes that NPR’s absurd policy of political abstinence is just fine. The flacks just should have had written the public memo in a better way.
Jarvis encourages NPR staff to actively protest the ban by making their voices heard on blogs and social media. Don’t hold your breath. I think more of their spare time is taken up attending those voice classes where you learn to speak like you are constantly pumped full of Thorazine and your heart rate never rises above 55.
Ms. Shepard: The best response to you is: Epuur’ Si Mouve.