Is NPR becoming like the Iranian State News Media Controlled by the Ayatollahs?

NPR is banning  their staff from attending Stewart, Colbert D.C. Rallies at the end of this month – “Rally to Restore Sanity”.

The company fired off an all-staff memo earlier this morning reminding employees of the company’s ban on attending rallies that the non-profit news organization covers. When did attending a rally become an endorsement? Also, how does it threaten objectivity? And finally, who cares if it does?

Last time I saw similar memo, it was from the Iranian State media controlled by the Ayatollahs forcing their staffer not attending the rallies from the Iranian presidential opposition leader, Mr. Mussavi.

Here is the memo from their boss,Vivian Schiller:

From: [NPR chief executive] Vivian Schiller
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:58 AM
To: AllStaff
Subject: FW: NPR Journalists and political activity

To ALL NPR staff,

  • Please see Ellen Weiss’ note to her staff below (and in particular, the reference to the upcoming Jon Stewart rally). In addition to News, the other divisions that are required to abide by the NPR News Ethics policy are digital, programming/AIR, legal and communications.

However, no matter where you work at NPR you should be very mindful that you represent the organization and its news coverage in the eyes of your friends, neighbors and others. So please think twice about the message you may be sending about our objectivity before you attend a rally or post a bumper sticker or yard sign. We are all NPR.

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your supervisor.


From: [Senior vice president for news] Ellen Weiss
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:46 AM
To: News-All Staff
Subject: NPR Journalists and political activity

As we head into the final weeks of this political season, I thought it would be valuable to send out a reminder of what NPR News Ethics Policies and Social Media Guidelines are regarding political activity. These are the relevant excerpts from the full documents that can be found online.

Please review carefully and if you have any questions please talk to your direct supervisor.

Many thanks,

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @

6 Responses to Is NPR becoming like the Iranian State News Media Controlled by the Ayatollahs?

  1. NPR now should stand for “No Protest Radio”! 🙂

  2. Erwin Tuil says:

    To put it in perspective. NPR has announced a policy like many other news organisations already have in the free west. While working as a political editor I refrained from political activities or from public political statements. It kept me out of harms way and allowed me to cover politics much better than those colleagues who were politically active and outspoken.

    In a highly polarised and sometimes poisoned political atmoshpere like the US, it is difficult enough to be regarded as non-partisan and balanced. You don’t want, as a media organisation like NPR, to be pushed further into a corner you don’t want to be and where you shouldn’t be.

    Like foreign correspondents should refrain from political activities in the countries they work, finance and economics reporters should be aware of the consequences, real or perceived, of thier personal investments and dealings.

    So, you are free to go where you want. Fat chance your editor-in-chief will check during the manifestations and put a club in your neck or blow your brains out. But do think about the service you work for and the purpose you have as a journalist. What is more important, your professional commitment or your personal opinion.

    • Everett Matthews says:

      Well-put, Erwin. And as for these questions: “Also, how does it threaten objectivity? And finally, who cares if it does?”–if you do not know their answers, you should not be a reporter.

  3. BarrieSue Schorfhaar says:

    The latest example of overcontroll of National Public Radio employees is the firing of Juan Williams. You people have trampled on the freedom of speech rights of this brilliant and well loved broadcaster in a way thay is beyond distrubing and you’ve had the audacity to do this in view of the fact that you are partly funded by US tax dollars. Let’s get to the truth. How long have you been waiting for the least opportunity to get rid of Mr. Williams because of his association with Fox News. If anyone has ever been “fair and ballance” it has been this man. Shame on you for the disgraceful treatment of someone of his callaber! This will come back to kick you right where you deserve to be kicked : what were you thinking;——Pledge Week? I for one will never plekge another dollar of help and hopfuly there will be enough support to take away your federal funding. I’ve sung your praises in the pass for trying to stay somewhat realistic while still being liberal, but no more. In fact, unless this injustice is corrected I’ll never listen to any of your programs again. My guest is there are millions more out there with these same views. Good luck on you fund raising this year, you’re going to need it. A former listerner, Sue Schorfhaar.

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