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National Public Radio

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National Public Radio (NPR) is a non-profit American organization producing and distributing news, talk and entertainment programming on a non-commercial basis. It syndicates its content through a network of member organizations who in turn operate radio stations through which NPR programs are broadcast. NPR also delivers some content via their website.

Origins and mission[edit]

NPR incorporated in 1970 following passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which established public broadcasting in the United States.[1]

The basic idea of NPR programming is that it should be neutral, artsy elitist high-quality, and educational. Kind of like the BBC, minus licence fees.


NPR is funded through fees charged to its member organizations, listener donations, grants from foundations, and state and federal governments; although the latter has declined over the years. NPR claims that the majority of their funding comes from its service generating activities, such as the fees it charges its member organizations.[2] Although NPR does not permit adverts, it does allow for messages from prominent sponsors. These messages cannot be aimed at selling specific products or points of view.

Membership and policies[edit]

NPR operates with a remit reminiscent of that under which the UK's BBC and Channel 4 operate.[note 1] NPR began as a broadcaster, but is now more a producer and distributor.

NPR member organizations are required to be non-commercial or educational stations with a set-minimum number of staff and broadcasting hours. Member stations must not be founded for the purpose of pushing religion or providing classroom programming.


Officially, NPR has a position of neutrality,[3] which is a difficult line to walk given that being a friend of no-one leaves NPR open to criticism from all sides. NPR is likely held to a higher standard than commercial media organizations due to the public funding it receives, but more importantly any media outlet that dares report facts that are uncomfortable to the Right is in on the liberal media conspiracy, anyway.

Damn liberals using our tax money to ban Jesus and spread the gay![edit]

NPR has been criticized for showing a liberal bias, such as in Brent Bozell's 2003 article in which he claimed that NPR had itself admitted a liberal bias. The quote on which Bozell's claim to an admission is based appears to be straining under the weight of supporting his arguments. The quote is in response to a Terry Gross interview of Al Franken in which Gross is accused of being too darn nice.[4]

In 2006 the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz said: "...with the rise of Fox News and conservative talk radio and NPR on the left and certain liberal cable programs...polls have shown that people like hearing opinions that reinforce their own, which makes me wonder whether or not we have two separate echo chambers in this country."[5]

In the wake of Juan Williams getting canned from NPR, there was a wingnut uproar demanding that the station be defunded. Public radio is tyranny! Free the taxpayers![6]

If it's true that reality has a liberal bias[note 2] then this could explain why NPR appears liberal. Wingnut Organizations like Fox News and WorldNetDaily have to treat reality as being a rapidly shrinking dot on the horizon in order to appeal to their extreme right-wing viewers and readers.

Damn conservatives using our tax money to kill foreigners and turn us all in to Jesus-bots![edit]

In 2005 NPR's ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, denied the claim NPR were using too many experts from conservative think tanks. A study by Media Matters found that 63% of the experts used in NPR stories were conservative, with the remaining 37% being liberal.[8] However, given that Media Matters describes itself as a "Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media", it might not be a purely objective source of information.

In reality, NPR regularly receives funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts for coverage of religion and society,[9] which would seem to skew NPR towards excessive and positive coverage of religion.[10]

NPR was criticized for being overly supportive of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[11] In fairness to NPR, the BBC, the British public broadcaster, was accused of the reverse.[12]

NPR is biased in favor of classical music![edit]

This is not a bad thing at all. It is, in fact, a point very much in its favor.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The Channel 4 Remit and Legal Duties article on their site lists, among other things, the need to demonstrate "innovation, experiment and creativity in the form and content of programs". How this fits in with their habit of churning out a seemingly endless stream of Big Brother themed shows and repeats of Friends is anyone's guess? In fairness, they do on occasion broadcast somewhat edgy and non-commercial content .
  2. "And reality has a well-known liberal bias." — Stephen Colbert[7]