WE ARE SHOCKED
We write to you as NPR’s staff members who have been on teams that won the duPont and Peabody awards in recent years – awards that have demonstrated some of NPR’s finest work and helped place the network among the top media companies in the country. Obviously many of our colleagues have won hundreds of other respected awards, too; others in the newsroom may not be listed on a plaque but they’ve done just as much to build NPR. We’ve done this work with a fraction of the resources of other media corporations.
And we’ve done this work, and NPR’s stature and audience have grown, while most of us were serving under the SAG-AFTRA contract. Members of your management team seem to believe that NPR has become the revered media company it is – a company that they boast about serving – despite that contract. They misunderstand NPR’s history and culture: NPR has become great partly because of our labor-management contract. The contract has ensured proper working conditions, collaboration and collegiality, and an atmosphere of mutual respect. That culture is one of the main reasons we choose to work here. That culture attracts some of our youngest and newest talents, from diverse backgrounds.
Of course, any contract can be updated or improved. We assume that the managers negotiating this contract have good motives and have the company’s best interests at heart. But we’ve been shocked by their efforts to in effect rip it up.
We know that your goal is to leave this company on a sound footing for the future. We’ve been delighted by your focus on promoting NPR’s brand, on expanding the audience, on delivering great journalism, and improving relations with member stations. But if your managers succeed at gutting the SAG-AFTRA contract, as they appear to be trying to do, they will do long-lasting and perhaps permanent damage to the culture that has made NPR, well, NPR. Everybody will lose – most of all our journalism and the public. We are writing to you directly, Jarl, hoping that you will intervene. We need to save the soul of NPR.