During an interview we just did with NPR CEO Vivian Schiller today for an upcoming ‘So What Do You Do?‘ feature, Schiller directed us to her response last week to Jack Shafer‘s piece ‘The Case Against Foundation Ownership of The New York Times‘, which we had somehow missed. In his column Shafer argues against the idea of endowment as a solution to the financial woes of newspapers. Schiller, who just last month left her post as head of NYT.com to take up as head of NPR, had this to say:
It has been surreal to follow the debate that has unfolded in recent weeks on the subject of endowing news organizations — as if this is a new idea. And, we are non-commercial and not-for-profit. NPR is supported by philanthropists, grants, corporate sponsorship, and by our member stations. (They are funded similarly, and well as by millions of listeners nationwide). Our endowment was formed in 1993 and stands at $205 million. We are the living, breathing prototype of the kind of operation David Swenson, Steve Coll, Jack Shafer and others are imagining — and imagining to be revolutionary.
So let me inject some reality into the debate! (You can read the rest of her reality check here!)