Saturday, October 23, 2010
Media Organizations: Is Firing Troublesome Employees a Trend?
My response: Interesting...I think that a couple of things are going on...One, there is
clearly a limit to how much license a media organization will allow its employees.
I don't think this is because of some sudden epiphany in management offices
that they need to get back to first principles about serving citizens with respect and proportionality (although one can always hope).
I suspect that money is a major factor.
The Times recently reported that Glenn Beck's show is losing ratings and advertisers because of his crazy talk. Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch may be wondering how far to push this.
CNN is also losing viewers possibly because it's trying to be more like Fox. It hasn't found a way to establish a niche in a unique way that recreates its original brand and following. Larry King can't retire too soon. Parker and Spitzer might just work even though part of the attraction is the "euuww" factor. Anderson Cooper's ratings are also down.
NPR's ratings on the other hand, keep going up. Some of the stations' recent fundraising drives have been the most successful ever.
So will Juan's firing have any impact on NPR's ability to raise money?
I doubt it. Station managers, the NPR board and the big machers have always told NPR management that they find NPR journalists on Fox (including correspondent Mara Liasson who is more measured than Juan but still...) to be distasteful and an embarrassment.
Station managers will put pressure on NPR President Vivian Schiller to be more careful
next time. My guess is that not many people will lament Juan's departure, just the way it was handled. So far, Schiller has not made many (if any) mistakes and the stations love her for how she's prepared to co-operate, compared to the previous regime which increasingly ignored the stations.
The big unknown will be how this will play politically. The right always love to use NPR as a piñata, but since NPR takes less than 2% from CPB, there's not a lot of leverage there.
The stations are more vulnerable (they take closer to 13% of their funding from CPB) and a Republican Congress might relish taking on public radio. They tried and failed under Gingrich in 1994, but these days, with the Palin-led pitchfork and torches brigade, all bets are off.