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NPR Laying Off 64 Employees, 7 Percent of Staff; Cancels Two Programs

 
 
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 09:49 am
NPR Laying Off 64 Employees, 7 Percent of Staff; Cancels Two Programs
By Rafat Ali
Wed 10 Dec 2008

Even NPR, which is underwritten by user contributions, station fees and sponsors, isn’t sheltered from the economic crisis, despite its audience growth in the last few years: it will reduce its workforce by 7 percent (about 64 employees out of NPR’s staff of 889) and will be cutting back on its expenses. The company said that a significant number of the personnel cuts result from the upcoming cancellation of two NPR produced programs " Day to Day and News & Notes. Both programs will remain on the air through March 20 next year. These are the first organization-wide layoffs done by the company in 25 years.

These reductions will be made in reporting, editorial and production areas; station services; digital media; research; communications and administrative support. About 21 open positions will not be filled and travel and discretionary expenses have been cut across the org, it said.

In July, NPR projected a relatively manageable $2 million deficit for its fiscal year 2009. With the downturn, corporate sponsorships"which is its second-largest source of funding after fees paid to NPR by stations"have declined, raising the projected deficit to $23 million. Its revenues are projected to fall to $145 million, an 8 percent decline. Also, NPR cut its projected underwriting revenues from $47 million to $33 million this year, according to this WaPo story. Legal restrictions severely limit expenditure of the NPR endowment, which includes the $200 million bequest made by Joan Kroc in 2003. Kroc was the wife of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. Internal memo about the layoffs is here.

This comes as NPR’s new CEO Vivian Schiller has just joined. This shortfall and funding issues will possibly be the biggest part of her job now, which also means forward-looking digital media initiatives will likely be dialed back for the near future, which is a pity.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 09:54 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
Et Tu, NPR?
By Hamilton Nolan
Dec 10 2008

Five years ago, National Public Radio got a donation of more than $200 million from McDonald's fortune widow Joan Kroc. So you'd think they'd be set for a while, money-wise. But the economy sucks and it's a safe bet that individual donations to public radio are plummeting. We heard rumors of layoffs this morning, and now it appears that they're true [UPDATE: it's official], and at least two shows are dying:

Tipsters have told us that NPR West, the huge production center in LA, may be "completely shuttering." That's not confirmed, but at least two shows are being shut down. Current.org reports that Day to Day and News and Notes are being canceled, with dozens of layoffs:

An NPR West staffer says word inside the building is that more than 60 people will lose their jobs. It is unclear whether the production center, established in late 2002 in a major expansion of NPR’s news operations, will remain open.

LAObserved says Day to Day will probably last a few more months, to allow stations time to rearrange their schedules.

$200 million gifts are now not sufficient to save your dream job. Any staffers who want to share their stories, email us.

UPDATE: NPR just sent out a press release saying it is indeed canceling those two shows (they'll end in March) and cutting its total workforce by 7%, thanks to a projected deficit next year of $23 million:

Staff and expense reductions will be made in reporting, editorial and production areas; station services; digital media; research; communications and administrative support. A total of 64 filled positions have been eliminated against NPR’s current staff of 889, 21 open positions will not be filled and travel and discretionary expenses have been cut across the organization.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 09:55 am
If we save any news organization, it has to be NPR. PBS must also be saved.

BBB
Woiyo9
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 12:03 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
They are already tax payer subsidized.

Maybe they should create better programming?
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Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 12:09 pm
Man, I love NPR's Saturday morning/afternoon lineup. Sound Opinions is better than any music journalism out there now and This American Life is still putting out quality memoir--really, both shows boast better writing than 98% of media outlets. Marketplace is captivating these days, unfortunately. And if they cut Car Talk I'm jumping off a bridge.

Will dig deeper into my pockets this year to help NPR.
Woiyo9
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 01:06 pm
@Gargamel,
Great, so long as I am not forced to dip into my pocket.
0 Replies
 
 

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