We received word this morning that NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller has submitted her resignation, following news yesterday that former NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) was secretly videotaped questioning whether public radio needs federal funding and criticizing conservatives.
We found Mr. Schiller’s comments to be deeply distressing. NPR has also publicly disavowed Mr. Schiller’s comments and insists they are not consistent with its policies or practices. I want to stress that VPR is committed to unbiased coverage that brings independence, fairness, civility, and respect for a wide variety of viewpoints to our programming every day. You can read VPR’s editorial policy here.
What was equally troubling was Mr. Schiller’s assertion that NPR and public radio stations would be better off without federal funding. These comments do not reflect reality. The elimination of federal funding would significantly damage public broadcasting as a whole. VPR, NPR, and public radio and television stations across the country will continue to make the case for federal funding for public broadcasting. You can learn more about VPR’s efforts here.
Vivian Schiller brought vision and energy to NPR when she assumed the post of CEO two years ago. During that time, she led NPR back from enormous economic challenges and was passionately committed to NPR's mission. She also improved NPR’s efforts to work collaboratively with member stations to strengthen our local-national news network.
However, I believe Vivian Schiller’s departure is in the best interest of both NPR and the station community. While she has been an inspiration for many in the public radio system, this and other recent gaffes by NPR management could undermine efforts to protect federal funding for public broadcasting and have called into question NPR’s impartiality. I believe that her decision to resign, and the NPR Board’s acceptance of her resignation, is in the best interest of NPR and the station community moving forward.
For more information, read this story in the New York Times' Media Decoder blog, as well as analysis by NPR's David Folkenflik.