A reader writes in to share some thoughts about the recent goings-on at NPR:
What’s taking place at NPR is fascinating. It flies in the face of the adage, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Let’s see, the late Joan B. Kroc, widow of McDonald’s founder Ray A. Kroc, left $235 million to the operation in 2004 and audience has been growing by the millions in recent years especially since 9/11 and the Iraq invasion.
NPR now boasts of doubling its audience to 26 million since 1999.
At the same time, it has also had three different VPs for news in the past seven years — Jeffrey Dvorkin, Bruce Drake and now William Marimow. Two of those in less than 12 months — not to mention the new acting VP, Ellen Weiss.
Strangely enough, Marimow joined NPR by filling a new position created just for him: a secondary spot as managing editor for news sitting next to managing editor Barbara Rehm. Some speculate that Marimow’s presence gave Bruce Drake the heebie jeebies. After all, it wasn’t his call to bring in Marimow — that came from NPR president Kevin Klose.
In recent months there has been some talk about Barbara Rehm feeling the pressure — time will tell how she feels about a new managing editor position being given to former ABC producer Richard Harris to supervise shows and newscasts. That was Rehm’s new job when Marimow came aboard. Presumably she is now back exclusively to news management, but many inside the news room were speculating that it was only a matter of time that Weiss would be named ME. Now she is acting VP.
So what gives? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Unless of course we are talking about ambition. …
It is interesting how the long knives have been unsheathed. This is similar to having curtains of the Vatican or Kremlin pulled back for a teasing glimpse. Politics at its most ambitious.