Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Excellence in Journalism

All of my previous posts have been critical of politicians and the media. Today I am going to switch gears and highlight my favorite source for news and explain the qualities that set it apart.

National Public Radio covers economic news in a way that doesn’t belittle the listener’s intelligence. During the financial collapse of 2007-2008 they were able to explain the failings of the mortgage and financial industries as their excesses finally came to light. One of their greatest stories was broadcast on December 22nd, 2010 when cable news had nothing to offer other than rumors of Mitt Romni’s potential 2012 presidential run.  It was then that NPR broadcast the results of an investigation they had done with ProPublica on the investment bank Merrill Lynch.  Merrill’s traders were paid bonuses based on the number of risky investments they sold. When they realized no one else was buying, they made a deal to split their bonuses with some of their colleges who created a group within Merrill Lynch to buy the risky assets. The investments fell through, requiring Merrill Lynch to be sold to Bank of America

Their Foreign news is unrivaled among US news agencies. They cover all countries, not just the ones that are strong allies or enemies of the United States. Had I not been an NPR listener, I wouldn’t have known about the crisis unfolding in the Ivory Coast. NPR actually has a correspondent, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, stationed in Senegal. CBS and NBC each have only one main foreign correspondent that covers international news overseas, Lara Logan and Richard Engle respectively.

Yesterday, NPR had a story that combines their expertise in both of these areas. The looming collapse of Afghanistan’s largest bank threatens to dissolve any remaining stability in the areas controlled by the central government. The bank loaned its money to relatives of Afghan politicians, who didn’t pay it back. The International Monetary Fund won’t take action to save the bank due to the bank’s refusal to reform its practices. As a result, the US will likely end up footing the 1 billion dollar bill. This report, along with others NPR has covered about Iraq, Afghanistan, and military issues, continue after most other US news outlets have given up on covering America’s ongoing wars.

NPR’s coverage on the lack of mine safety at Massey Energy is another example of NPR keeping listeners informed on the issues that matter. Massey Energy was responsible for the explosion of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners. Despite receiving hundreds of citations for its safety violations, Massey has refused to reform its mining practices. The Labor Department took a critical step when it filed to shut down Massey’s Freedom Mine #1, due to the risk Massey’s blatant disregard for safety posses to its workers.

For these reasons and many more, NPR is my most trusted source for news. The depth and breadth of their coverage is above and beyond all other US news providers. You’ll always learn something new whenever you listen to NPR.


Originally Posted March 1, 2011

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