Apr 1 1993

A Study of National Public Radio

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When founded two decades ago, National Public Radio defined itself as an independent alternative to mainstream commercial broadcasting. Unlike the corporate giants, NPR would “promote personal growth rather than corporate gain,” and “not only call attention to a problem, but be an active agent in seeking solutions,” according to the network’s 1971 mission statement. To this day, public radio fundraisers urge listeners, “Get the facts as you really can’t get them on commercial television” (WBUR, 10/21/92). And on many occasions, National Public Radio provides its listeners with exactly this—fuller, deeper news and a wider range of views. But a detailed […]

Apr 1 1993

New York Times on Immigrants

Give Us Your Healthy, Wealthy and 24-Hour Nannies

The controversy over attorney general nominees Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, both of whom had to withdraw after acknowledging that they had hired undocumented immigrants to care for their children, elicited a wide response in the media, particularly in the pages of the New York Times. “It’s Gender, Stupid,” was the headline of an Anthony Lewis column (2/8/93) that proclaimed, “It is time to stop snickering about the politics of all this and understand the real issue, bias against women.” An entire New York Times op-ed page (2/10/93) was devoted to analyzing “Nannygate” as a women’s issue. The discussion raised […]

Apr 1 1993


Second Opinion Being a terrorism expert means never having to say you’re sorry. After the World Trade Center bombing, Steven Emerson of CNN’s Special Assignment Unit filed an “exclusive report” (3/2/93) announcing that unnamed “law enforcement officials…suspect the bomber or bombers may be from one of the former Yugoslav republics.” Three days later, after Mohammed Salameh was arrested in connection with the bombing, Emerson was writing for the Wall Street Journal op-ed page (3/5/93) as an expert on the radical Islamic fundamentalist threat. The disappearance of the Serbian menace was not explained. ‘Collision of Causes’? On March 6, the New […]

Apr 1 1993

Domestic Violence Campaign: Super Bowl Success Sparks Good Ol’ Boys’ Backlash

Violence against women (photo: Pietro Naj-Oleari/European Parliament)

Shortly before the start of the Super Bowl on NBC this January, viewers saw a public service announcement that warned: “Domestic violence is a crime.” For some, the PSA came as a surprise, but not for those involved in the campaign to get 30 seconds of airtime donated to the ad. The moment (worth roughly $500,000 to advertisers) was the result of many weeks of work by FAIR and a coalition of anti-violence groups in negotiation with executives at NBC and NBC Sports. Workers at women’s shelters, and some journalists, have long reported that Super Bowl Sunday is one of […]

Apr 1 1993

Letters to the Editor

In your piece, “How Seventeen Undermines Young Women” (Extra!, 1-2/93), Kimberly Phillips set out with a thesis and then searched for the facts to support it. Yes, we are a commercially supported magazine, and it is my supposition that Kimberly’s objection to our fashion and beauty stories is that concern with appearance is damaging to women. Yet experimenting with your appearance is one of the ways in which adolescents separate from their parents, and it’s important. Further, fashion, like music, politics, sex, work and health (all of which we regularly cover) is something that many young women are interested in, […]

Apr 1 1993

NPR’s Fresh Air

"Extremist" Author Silenced for Lack of "Moderate" Opponent

Shortly after a favorable review of his book on Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Zealots for Zion, appeared in the New York Times Book Review (1/10/93), Village Voice reporter Robert I. Friedman was invited to discuss the book on Fresh Air, an interview-format show distributed by NPR. The interview was taped on January 27 and was to be broadcast later that day. Promos advertised the upcoming segment. But Fresh Air never aired the interview. Robert I. Friedman says he was told that some of the views he expressed, like saying that some settlers view Arabs as less than […]

Apr 1 1993

An NPR Report on Dioxin

How "Neutral" Experts Can Slant a Story

FAIR’s four-month study of National Public Radio found that All Things Considered and Morning Edition devoted less than 2 percent of stories — 45out of 2,296 — to the environment. This parallels commercial broadcasting trends, where coverage of the environment has been declining since 1990 (Tyndall Report1/92). Here, as in other subject areas, NPR tended to follow commercial journalistic conventions. Most commonly (38 percent of cases), the lead source for environmental stories was a government official. Journalists and academic experts accounted for another 20 percent of lead sources, and were the most likely to be quoted at length. Corporate spokespeople […]