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NPR Cancels News & Notes

The economic crisis is affecting NPR, naturally, and one of their responses has been to cancel two of their shows, News & Notes included.  I believe the story is that the show doesn’t bring in enough money in donations and has low ratings. I would be very interested in seeing the ratings breakdown of all NPR-supported shows to see if N&N is really at the bottom.  I mean, it just seems like a kick in the teeth — the only program that focuses on Black issues and now it will be off the air.

It’s especially interesting in light of what I had to say almost a year ago about why I don’t send donation dollars to NPR.  News & Notes is great, but I feel like NPR news in general feels really white-washed to me.  Others spoke up, saying they feel the same way.  And if black people’s impression of NPR mainly comes from the two flagship shows, they won’t necessarily stick around to find out that News & Notes exists.  And this doesn’t even mention the lack of coverage and perspectives for other POC.

My only hope right now is that NPR gets smart and brings Farai and the other talented N&N team into the fold for Morning Edition and All Things Considered.  I have always wanted a deeper, less white-washed approach for these two shows.  If the one show dedicated to the Black community is going away, that means it’s time to shove NPR into the 21st century and get them to cover issues of various POC communities more.

If that’s not going to happen, then I hope that someone decides to back a podcast, or maybe a public radio show on Pacifica.  There has to be a life after News & Notes.  It’s too good a resource to just let lapse.

29 comments to NPR Cancels News & Notes

  • This is really bad news. Was it ever on any of the NPR stations here in NYC? I was never able to catch it on the radio only the net.

  • megan hazen

    hey, can you contact NPR with this opinion?
    I honestly haven’t noticed that NPR is ‘white washed’, but, then, i’m white… But it occurs to me that perhaps they did not consider the programming change from this view point, or the alternative follow up of adding a n&n type segment to morning edition or all things considered.

    Also, don’t they still have a Tavis Smiley show? (Not to be difficult here, but, that would be at least 2 shows, right? Unless Tavis Smiley is a non-national program that my station happened to pick up.)

    I love NPR, and want them to continue to improve. I think feedback like yours could help them.

  • jsb16

    I admit that I’m not black, I chiefly listen to Morning Edition, and I’ve never listened to News&Notes. (I can’t stand All Things Considered. It never seems to get to a point.)

    That said, I don’t quite understand what you mean by NPR being whitewashed. Isn’t Morning Edition co-hosted by a black woman and a white man who together did that whole series of reports on race from Pennsylvania during the campaign? I could’ve sworn that the pieces I’ve heard recently on veterans and the economy included black voices, but I’m not an expert on dialect. Is it that they don’t usually identify people by race? Is it that my impression that black voices are included is skewed by the sheer variety of other accents in the news? I don’t have any idea where to look for real numbers on the racial or ethnic distribution of the pieces ME does or the guests they interview.

  • Hellofire

    I’m not a huge fan of NPR, but from what I can gather they were never that serious about it, anyway.

  • Damn, that’s sad. To respond to jsb16, I think that whitewashing is not just about hearing black voices, but a lack of speaking about issues that are especially salient to the experience of being Black in America and abroad. News & Notes did that, and there is no other show that does. Now if your question is really why such an outlet needs to exist, that’s a whole ‘nother question…

  • I completely agree with you. I love NPR and think they really do a good job of covering under-reported stories, but they definitely are coming from a place of white and class privilege. N&N was a refreshing change from their other programming, and I feel like this cancellation demonstrates the station’s de-prioritizing of reaching a broader audience and having media by and about people of color.

  • Megan, I may mention my displeasure on Monday when I go in to record another blogger’s roundtable for N&N. I’m surprised they let me in the building considering my opinions on the network. In general I do respect NPR, but the overwhelming white-middle-classness of their news programming just gets to me.

    Also, the Tavis Smiley Show is long gone from NPR. It was replaced by a show with, I believe, Ed Gordon, and then that show was replaced by News & Notes.

    jsb — in addition to the excellent points gradmommy makes, you should click on the link in the post to the older post, which explains my position in full.

  • William

    Hi

    The Kojo Nnamdi Show covers some of the topics that News and Notes did, but he does a variety of subjects.

    http://wamu.org/programs/kn/

    William

  • News and Notes is on WNYC AM at 10 PM on week nights.

    Another friend has lost her job. One of the writer-producers for the show — a Nigerian background woman from England. NPR also f*cked her on the green card ….

    Tavis Smiley’s show got cut from week nights. AfroPop Worldwide was dropped many years ago.

    These are the programs that always get put on last and are the first to go. Without any concerted programming that is directed to build a non-white listening audience, it’s not going to happen.

    OTOH, the younger demographics don’t even OWN radios, so ….

    Love, C.

  • William

    Hi

    The Tavis Smiley TV show is still on PBS but the radio show is on PRI Public Radio International which is picked up by most NPR stations.

    http://www.pri.org/tavis-smiley-show.html

    http://www.tavistalks.com/media

    William

  • Here you hear Tavis on the public radio AM affiliate at 2 PM on Sats. and Suns.

    I liked it a lot better when he was on every week night. But News and Notes took that spot. Now there’s no black voice radio on during the week at all.

    Love, C.

  • CP

    I requested that NPR in my area, Phoenix, AZ, bring in a show with the perspective of African-American; when that request was denied, I stopped donating. I wasn’t requesting for only African-American, I like Diane Rehm, Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, but I was just looking for a little balance. When you live in a city where the AA population is less than 4%, you get the “whitewashed” version of current events, that gets old. After a while when you see whites express opinions about what happens in the AA community, (a token AA is asked to comment every once and a while), and you’re not seeing AA’s opinions on the economy, or politics, or foreign affairs regularly, you began to think there are no AAs out there other than DL Hugley or some other comedian speaking on behalf of the AA community. NPR keeps a show like Fresh Air on air and takes away News & Notes, go figure.

  • infamousqbert

    i heard this and had the same reaction. as far as racial minorities go, the only other show i’m aware of is “Latino USA”. i’m not a POC, but Tavis/N&N was always a really good, interesting show. i liked hearing about things from a perspective i just don’t get in my day-to-day life (speaking of the other cancelled show). i’m really sorry that they’ve made this decision. seriously, they couldn’t cancel “Calling All Pets”?

  • Mindy

    I don’t think I have lived in a town where NPR played News and Notes. Travis Smiley, but news and notes.

    Sad.

  • I love your blog and keep doing the amazing work that you do!

    Peace sister!

  • kmcsaks

    I love News & Notes so this came as a shock to me. I have found the N&N to be one of the best programs on NPR, giving more insight than most shows while still keeping a good flow. This is news you truly don’t hear elsewhere.

    It’s sad that N&N is a casualty of budget cuts. I’m sure they could have cut elsewhere.

  • Brooke

    I agree with you on many of the points you addressed about NPR, but what other outlet is there for colored folks, like myself, to hear news that at least covers some issues of ethnic America? I also live in Phoenix, Az, and there isn’t another radio show in the valley that talks about some of the race related issues like NPR does. I have a choice between no news, crappy talk radio, and NPR. I am saddened that NPR has taken News and Notes off the air, but at least NPR will discuss some issues facing ethnic America. I don’t have access to the internet in my car or at work, so I can’t listen to the podcast as much as I would like to and I would rather listen to NPR than Adam Corolla. If more people listen to news and notes and donated more of it than maybe it wouldn’t be canceled. I think the important thing that we must remember that ethnic America is a powerful force in the American economy and politics, evident by our newly president elect. If enough of us got together and supported the programs than maybe things would be different. Either way, I agree with your comments on whitewashed news, and that is why I read your blog so often even though I’m not African American.

  • Dirge

    “I don’t send donation dollars to NPR”

    “the show doesn’t bring in enough money in donations and has low ratings.”

    If there are a lot of black folk who feel as you do, than there might be a connection between those two statements.

  • Possibly, though I’m not sure how donations to member stations are portioned out to the different shows. People donate to a station, not to a particular show, so how do they know which shows are cause for more donations? i think maybe local stations decide, perhaps by deciding when or if to carry the show to begin with.

    My local station, WNYC, doesn’t air N&N until some ridiculous time at night when most working people are in bed. What the hell use is that? If they say “well, during N&N only 3 people donated” I wouldn’t conclude that no one cared about N&N, I would conclude that people with money to spare were asleep.

  • I wrote this to the decisions makers at NPR. It pretty much sums up my feelings:

    News and Notes has consistently covered a broad range of topics of interest not only to people of color, but to young people, ie, new listeners to NPR, exactly the group NPR must continue to cultivate in order to survive. They are quite literally the future of the enterprise.

    We need public programming to stay relevant to all, to serve the populace, to give a voice to so many who are not given the respect in mainstream media they deserve. You cannot fulfill this mission with more integrity and understanding of the depth and range of a generation than by continuing to support Farai Chideya and her talented staff.

    The cutting of this show is a mistake especially at this point in our national history when, now more than ever, young and younger people of color feel enfranchised and are poised to exercise the voice and views they/we have been cultivating for the last two decades.

    This is a mistake when, now more than ever, people who are hit hard by the economic downturn will need to speak and share and come together–through forums like News and Notes.

    The best idea for this show is to grow it, to help give it more penetration, not less.

  • Lala

    Sad to say I wasn’t even aware of this show until I heard of its demise. Is there anything left similar for a younger demographic? Is there a petition, can Air America pick it up?

  • Just last week I was listen to NPR and they did a reading about these dolls that became very popular and all the white dolls were out. Only white doll was “Nubbins” a mal-factured doll… The facing realization… Would the colored dolls all sell before the Nubbins… First the Asian Dolls, The Hispanic Dolls, and left was incubators of Black Dolls. It was such a good read (show)!

  • Mantelli

    News and Notes is on every week night in St. Louis. I don’t know whether it’s got a large black audience, but I know a lot of white folks who listen to it with interest.

    There is a new Tavis Smiley show being carried on my local NPR affiliate’s premium HD radio channel, but I don’t have an HD receiver, so I don’t hear it. We haven’t heard yet what’s going to replace News and Notes in our market.

  • Jesse the K

    Oh! What a loss—Farai Chideya was such a strong voice with interesting viewpoints.

    There’s still Michele Martin’s show, Tell Me More, which I listen to via the NPR website since my state network doesn’t run it.

  • Aisha bowen

    now here i am looking for the only funny show i ‘ve seen in years, David Alan Grier’s” Chocolate News”, and now i find out that News and Notes is off. I will not ask why, nor am I surprised. During the war ON gazi i was not at all surprised at the news black out…
    It upsets me to know that most people beleive that all is well now that we have a light chocolate president….oh well……
    thank God for the inter net….I mean when all else fails………..

  • TyChalla

    Good riddence to News and Notes.Some of the shows sounded more conservative than Hannity,Rush and the rest of those whinners. I listened to Ron Cristie just flat out lie on a number of occasions.Some times I would just turn the dial and listen to Hannity.And Farai seem to be so afraid she was going to offend the right that she did’nt know she was coming or going.I understand trying to be balanced but alot of times it came off as some was more “balanced” than others.Kick rocks and grow some overies Farai.

  • I am an angry white woman. Really angry because NPR is taking News and Notes off the air. I have written to NPR but that does not seem to help at all.

    What is needed is some sort of coordinated effort to keep it on the air. Does anyone know of such a movement?

    I think it is an unbelievably bad decision.

    Patrice Showers Corneli

  • Jandancer

    I live in Rochester, NY and News and Notes airs at 8 pm each night. I listen as often as I can and am never disappointed! I love the interviews, the variety and a chance to hear what is going on in Africa in a more in depth way. I wrote to the NPR ombudsman to protest and point out that N & N is the best show on radio and told them: I’m not saying I love N & N because I’m African American, because I am not.
    I want to believe that with enough protest we can change their mind. I’m going to keep writing letters to anyone at NPR I can find!
    Please do the same!

  • [...] News and Notes has been canceled. However, Jeff Chang points out that News and Notes will continue to operate until March 20th, and [...]