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Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Weiss’

NPR Hit With Lack of Diversity Charge

The Juan Williams debacle may be over. But accusations of a lack of diversity at NPR are not. Early this morning The Root‘s Managing Editor and founder of the Nat. Assoc. of Black Journalists  Joel Dreyfuss sent an open letter to Gary Knell, the new chief of NPR, on what he sees are the station’s lingering “diversity” problems.

Drefuss first praises Knell for taking steps to embrace diversity and said he has said “all the right things” since his appointment was announced last week.

But he warned him not to conclude that NPR’s problems with race are over: “Don’t mistake the fiery exit of Williams as just a nasty personnel matter gone nuclear. His departure was a sad commentary on the monochromatic vision of many liberal institutions — a disease that NPR has not escaped.”

He remembered a conversation he had with the now former NPR employee who fired Williams, Ellen Weiss. at a convention of the Association of Black Journalists. He asked her why “All Things Considered” was “so white.” She said it wasn’t — they had Williams. Dreyfuss recalled, “I almost choked on my stuffed mushroom.” He later added this zinger, “NPR has never been comfortable with black voices and brown voices and white voices that challenged conventional liberal thinking.”

Read the full letter here.

We’ve requested comment from NPR. Should they have one we’ll bring it to you.

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Tricks of the Trade With NPR’s Laura Sullivan

NPR Investigations Correspondent Laura Sullivan is the subject of today’s Tricks of the Trade feature. And the timing couldn’t be more fitting. Credentials: On May 23, she’ll pick up a Peabody  for a report called “Behind the Bail Bond System.” She also recently won an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award and a Dupont-Columbia Silver Bond award back in January.

1. Favorite Interview Technique: And then what happened?… what did you think of that?… and then what happened?… what did you think of that?.. and then what happened?

2. Most Compelling Question You’ve Ever Asked: See above.  Conversely, worst non-question question I’ve ever asked: “Talk a little bit about…” I might as well have said, “Talk about whatever you feel like talking about in as boring a way as you feel like saying it, and don’t bother to actually address anything I’ve come here to talk to you about.  But please, go ahead.”

3. Best Self-Editing Approach: With an axe, not a scalpel.  Only 15 percent of a first draft is any good.

4. What to do When an Interview is Tanking: Cut and run. Find a better subject. If you really have to have the person/interview,  I take off my head phones (put away the  notepad for a while) so they relax and think the important part is over — and start over.

5. Approaching Lawmakers and other “Important People”: Groan. The approach isn’t the problem.  (The interview’s either in their self-interest or not. Doesn’t matter what you say.) Getting them to give a compelling interview is.

6. Most Surprising Thing to Happen During an Interview…

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NPR SVP Resigns in Wake of Williams Controversy

NPR SVP for News Ellen Weiss has resigned in wake of controversy surrounding the dismissal of Juan Williams, the longtime analyst accused of making anti-Muslim comments on Fox News.   In a memo obtained by FishbowlDC, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said “she [Weiss] is a strong journalist who has brought her considerable talents to how NPR covers the world and meets the ever-increasing expectations of today’s audiences. Ellen exemplifies journalistic professionalism and integrity. I’m grateful to her for what she has accomplished at NPR, and I encourage you to reach out to her in the days ahead with your own thanks.”

Vice President for Programming Margaret Low Smith will temporarily step in to the spot left vacant by Weiss until a replacement is found.

In addition to the news of Weiss’ resignation, Schiller announced that the NPR Board of Directors has completed the review of the events leading to the termination of Juan Williams’ contract as a part-time news analyst.  The review, performed by Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP offered a list of recommendations and remedial measures designed to address issues that surfaced.

“We have taken this situation very seriously and the Board believes these recommendations and remedial steps address the concerns raised in connection with the termination of Williams’ contract,” said Dave Edwards, Chair.  “The Board regrets this incident’s impact on NPR and will work with NPR’s CEO, Vivian Schiller, to ensure that these actions will be expeditiously completed, examined, and monitored on an ongoing basis.”

Read the full memo and statement from the NPR Board of Directors after the jump.

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Want To Listen To Sotomayor Hearings On The Radio? Don’t Turn That Dial To NPR

Have you noticed that NPR is not broadcasting the Judge Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings live?

NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard explains that the live broadcast was offered to NPR’s 800-lus member stations, but there wasn’t enough interest to warrant live coverage, according to NPR’s senior vice president for news Ellen Weiss. Actually less than a dozen wanted to run the hearings.

NPR’s website does have a live video stream of the hearings on its homepage, which is in collaboration with PBS’ The NewsHour and anchored by Judy Woodruff.

Big Changes at NPR News

A management re-org at NPR seems to have offered up some new positions and a shifting management structure:

Ellen McDonnell will be Executive Director of News Programming.

Dick Meyer, currently editorial director of NPR Digital, will become executive editor for NPR News.

David Sweeney is assuming the position of Managing Editor.

Brian Duffy‘s new title is Director of Enterprise and Planning.

Stu Seidel is moving from supervising senior editor to deputy managing editor and will run the News Desk being launched June 1.

For more info on the new structure, positions and soon-to-launch NPR News Desk, visit PRPD for the memo sent by NPR Senior VP for News Ellen Weiss.

Taking Out The Trash

What we almost missed today…

• Former NBC producer Aram Roston has a piece in GQ this month on Texas billionair Allen Stanford, “Did This Man Pull Off The Most Brazen Swindle Of All?

• So as FishbowlNY put it, Twitter can be very helpful to journalists, whether they’re promoting their own work, seeking sources or just looking for what everyone is talking about. In light of Twitter’s popularity, WSJ editor Alix Freedman sent an email yesterday to staffers outlining new conduct guidelines that specifically instruct reporters how to handle themselves on Twitter.

• WebNewser has obtained a memo sent from NPR SVP of News Ellen Weiss about some leadership changes as public radio continues to change with the times including an audience that continues to fractionalize. NPR went through a re-org after about 18 months ago and, writes Weiss, “Since that time it has become even clearer to me that we must deepen the integration of our newsroom, establish better and faster communication between units in News and others in the organization, and foster even more ambitious, distinctive storytelling and enterprise reporting every day on our shows and online.” Dick Meyer, Editorial Director of NPR Digital, will now oversee newsgathering across all platforms. Read on here.

• Want an internship at HuffPost? Be prepared to shell out $13,000.

Morning Reading List, 04.13.07

morningsun.gifGood morning Washington.

  • You think NBC should not have dropped Imus.
  • From a tipster: “check out sudarsan r’s front page first person piece in today’s washpost. it’s incredible.”
  • From a tipster: “Re: to drop Imus or to not drop Imus. All the handwringing of late overlooks an important point: Imus isn’t funny. Why doesn’t the DC press corps acknowledget his point? Or would it just underscore our ongoing insecurities and competitive nature? DC press vying to go on his show reminded me of the odd couple in high school. The hot, straight-A student who dated the dumb jock. She had nothing in common with him. But she lacked the self-confidence to ignore the high school social structure. Popularity trumped common sense. Did anyone who went on Imus REALLY think he was funny or interesting or worth the hype? Or did they just find pleasure in the attention?”
  • A few readers wrote in about Ana Marie Cox’s recent piece in time. Said one: “How does someone who essentially made her name by writing about ‘ass fucking’ moralize about ‘childish crudeness?’” Gawker says, “Ana Marie Cox’s Damascene conversion involves the voice of Imus saying ‘nappy-headed hos.’”
  • “Let us drink to unspeakable pleasures, Madam Speaker” is leading the caption contest with “Dalia, let me give you my surgeon’s number. He can fix that” in a close second.
  • An NBC release announced that “Meet The Press with Tim Russert” was number one in “the key demographics women, men and adults” for April 8. “Among the key demographic adults 25-54, the NBC program had
    a 1.1 rating, +38% more than CBS’ 0.8, a +57% lead over ABC’s 0.7, and +175% more than FOX’s 0.4 rating.”

  • An ABC release announced that “Nightline” beat CBS “Late Night with David Letterman” “in both Total Viewers and the key Adults 25-54 demographic” for the week of April 2. The last time “Nightline” beat “Letterman” “in both Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 was September 4, 2006. In addition, ‘Nightline’ grew week-to-week in Total Viewers. ‘Letterman’ aired original programming last week.”
  • The Gallup Organization is looking for Internet Webcast Producer.
  • His Extremeness asks, “Is Dana Perino Ahead Or Behind The Laugher Curve?”
  • Romenesko gives us an Imus round-up:
    • Los Angeles Times: “The radio host should have been fired long before his racist remarks about Rutgers’ women’s basketball team.”
    • Time: “The Imus Fallout: Who Can Say What?”
    • New York Times: “This Time, the Shock Jock’s Sidekick Couldn’t Shield the Boss”
    • Newsweek: “The Ugly Truth”
    • EJ Dionne on “Saying No To Fox News.”
    • AJR: “Kicked to the Curb”
    • Slate: “Pullout Method: How fast can Don Imus’ sponsors get away?”
  • “CBS is announcing the creation of the CBS Interactive Audience Network, which will include new content deals with online distributors including AOL, Microsoft, CNET, Comcast, Joost, Bebo, and Brightcove, among others. All content will be supported by advertising and free to the consumer.”
  • Bloomberg reports, “Cable giant Comcast is buying online movie-ticket seller Fandango and says the companies will create a new Web site for viewing films and television shows. The new Fancast.com will start in the summer and allow users to view shows on demand on television, the Internet or mobile devices.”
  • YouTube to Post Presidential Candidate Videos
  • Chicago Tribune reports, “InfoWorld, a 29-year-old computer magazine, is publishing its final print copies. Death is attributed to plummeting print revenues and declining readership. The magazine’s online version, however, is thriving. Killing off print to focus on online is seen as a growing trend.”
  • Reuters reports, “New York Times Co. investors should not expect the Sulzberger family to change the way it runs the company despite pressure to scrap its dual-class share structure, says advisor Steven Rattner of the Quadrangle Group. Going private would only create new problems, he says.”
  • “Technorati, a blog search and ranking site, is acquiring The Personal Bee, a news aggregator that lets people organize and share content around specific topics.”
  • New York Times reports, “CBS News plans to install a new level of editorial oversight to its Web site since revelations that the CBS anchor Katie Couric read a plagiarized commentary on the site last week. CBS News execs say they are stunned that anyone would so blatantly copy someone else’s work.”
  • “A new report from Nielsen/NetRatings reveals that network Web sites are seeing much of their traffic from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., with NBC.com leading the rankings.” Also, B&C reports, “NBC affiliates are expected to get a new media player on their Web sites this summer.”
  • From a reader: “Re Obama. Obama likes Cameron a lot. When Obama made his first trip to New Hampshire, he basically told Obama’s people that their preparations were inadequate — telling them to double the size of venues booked, etc. He was right. And I understand that Obama made a point of thanking him during the trip.”
  • Pew Weekly News Interest Index shows, “High-profile candidates and the accelerated pace of the 2008 presidential election campaign have drawn the public into the race earlier than in past election cycles.”
  • DCRTV reports, “A WAMU source tells someone who tells DCRTV that the American University public radio news talker has ‘lost their last reporter. They have a news director with no news staff.’”
  • Also from DCRTV: “The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against CNN, upholding unfair labor practice charges by the National Association Of Broadcast Employees And Technicians-CWA, contending that the cable network illegally tore up union contracts for field camera crews and other technical workers serving its DC and NYC news bureaus in 2003.”
  • NBC announced, “The NBC News Broadcast is the Only Network Evening Newscast Honored with the Prestigious Award.”
  • Dean Starkman asks, “What Would The Audit Do?”

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  • Ellen Weiss Named Vice President for News at NPR

    From the release:

      Ellen Weiss, an award-winning broadcast news executive who has served as head of the NPR News National Desk and Executive Producer of the top-rated daily NPR News magazine All Things Considered, has been named Vice President for News, NPR.

      In this role – the organization’s top news management position – Weiss will oversee NPR’s worldwide journalism operations, including 18 domestic and 18 foreign bureaus; more than 400 staff members; more than 50 hours of news programming weekly, and NPR’s award-winning investigations, longform series and other special reporting. Weiss has served as Acting Vice President for News since October 2006.

      Yesterday, Weiss was named along with correspondent Daniel Zwerdling and editor Anne Hawke as recipients of a George Foster Peabody Award. They are being recognized for the December 2006 NPR News investigation into how soldiers returning from Iraq to Fort Carson, CO with post traumatic stress disorder and other emotional problems were being punished and even discharged for seeking help. This report garnered widespread media attention, sparked a Senate investigation and Pentagon probe and led to a mandatory training program for military officials at Fort Carson.

      This year, Weiss celebrates her 25th anniversary at NPR News. From 2001 to 2006, she was Senior Editor of the National Desk, managing 80 reporters, editors and producers covering all national issues including politics, business, religion, education, immigration, police and prisons. She oversaw coverage of major national events; among them, NPR News’ critically-acclaimed work covering 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 2002 and 2004 elections. Weiss also edited many of NPR News’ investigations including Zwerdling’s award-winning coverage of the use of dogs in detention centers, Carrie Kahn’s report on mercy killings at New Orleans hospitals during Hurricane Katrina and John McChesney’s investigation into the final hours of the only Abu Ghraib detainee whose death was ruled a homicide.

      For 12 years, she was Executive Producer of the daily NPR News magazine All Things Considered. She was responsible for its broadcasts from around the U.S. and the world – including Berlin during the fall of communism, San Francisco after the 1989 earthquake, L.A. in the midst of the 1992 riots and Jerusalem during the 1996 elections. Weiss has also served as a senior producer, editor, field producer and director at NPR News.

      She has been part of the NPR News teams that have received such honors as Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, George Foster Peabody Awards, Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, Overseas Press Club Awards and American Women in Radio and Television Awards.

      Weiss is a graduate of Smith College with a B.A. in international relations. She and her family live in Washington, D.C.