I wrote a letter to NPR to complain about their handling of Lisa Simeone. While their response addressed some of the particulars of this situation, it didn't address the broader point of supressing their affiliated journalists personal opinions - not that I expected them to. Perhaps unsurprisingly they insist on not being involved in Soundprint's dismissal of her.
Dear NPR management:
I am writing to express how disturbed I am by NPR's behavior with regards to Lisa Simeone, a freelancer who appears on some shows that NPR broadcasts, as reported here.
I am a long time listener of NPR and long time supporter of both NPR and my local station WNYC. The pattern of behavior of the leadership at NPR that has emerged in the last 1-2 years with regards to its persecution of people who express any political views is highly troubling. However, in this particular case it's not just troubling but also completely unfair and misguided. Ms Simeone is not an employee of NPR, and as the article points out, is far from the only one who has shown to possess political views.While I understand the desire by your organization to remain apolitical and neutral, I think that you have taken this policy several steps too far. In addition to this incident, I found your policy that "NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them" to be borderline anti-democratic if not outright illegal. NPR journalists are private persons and as such cannot and should not be prohibited from expressing their views in their private lives. I value NPR and it's stations for the reporting and programming they do. However if this pattern of behavior continues I will have to rethink my support for it and its affiliated stations.Best,
Dear Alexander, There have been some inaccuracies in recent reporting on World of Opera host Lisa Simeone that we’d like to correct.World of Opera is produced by WDAV, a music and arts station based in Davidson, North Carolina. Lisa is not an employee of WDAV or NPR; she is a freelancer with the station.Lisa will continue to host World of Opera. That has not changed. You can read WDAV’s statement confirming this on their website. The management of WDAV is solely responsible for the decision making around Lisa’s role with the program. This high quality cultural program will continue to be heard by thousands of listeners.NPR had no role in the decision made by the management of the public radio documentary program Soundprint to end its relationship with Lisa as the program’s host. Soundprint is an independent public radio program that is not produced by NPR. NPR had no contact with the management of the program prior to their decision. We learned about it after the fact. You can read more about Soundprint's decision on their website.Other than Lisa’s role as host, Soundprint and WDAV’s World of Opera are completely unrelated. To that point, it is important to understand that not every public radio program is produced or distributed by NPR. And not every public radio station is a member of NPR. NPR is one piece of a larger public radio system. You can learn more about the public radio system on NPR.org.It is clear that you feel passionately about the role and value of public radio. Thank you for sharing your perspectives with us.Sincerely,Dana Davis Rehm
Senior Vice President
Marketing, Communications, and External Relations