In the heat of the Juan Williams episode last October, I argued here that while the NPR leadership had made a mistake in its huffy-seeming dismissal of Williams, it was important to separate criticism of that tactical error from a broader, politically motivated attack on the larger journalistic enterprise that NPR represents. Heart of the argument (which of course I invite you to read in its full splendor):
Two reasons for returning to this question:
1) Today, after an outside investigative group released its findings of NPR's handling of the Williams case, NPR announced the (obviously forced) resignation of the head of its news division, Ellen Weiss -- at left, in NPR photo. Vivian Schiller, head of NPR, received a vote of confidence but "no bonus" because of the Williams episode.
I have been introduced to Ellen Weiss once or twice but don't know her as a friend or even an acquaintance. But I certainly know her by reputation both inside and outside the NPR organization. Whatever is admirable about NPR's news ambitions and standards -- and to my mind, quite a lot is admirable -- is to a meaningful degree a reflection of Weiss's own ambitions and standards. She has been at NPR since the early 1980s and has held most of the significant news-planning jobs there: executive producer of All Things Considered for more than a decade; then head of NPR's National Desk for five years, where she supervised its reporters; and since early 2007 the senior vice president for all news operations. It is common knowledge within NPR that when the network was deciding who should fill the senior news job four years ago, some 90% of
news staff members on air reporters, more than 100 people in all, signed a petition recommending that Weiss be chosen -- as she was. Details here.