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NPR forbids promoting podcasts or its NPR One app on member stations

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Old media vs. new media

NPR is having an identity crisis. The media company has forbid its member stations from promoting NPR podcasts and the NPR One app, as the battle between old and new media wages inside the organization. In a new ethics policy surfaced by Nieman Lab,  NPR’s vice president of news programming and operations Chris Turpin made it known that the news staff and member stations should not prompt people to listen to or download any podcasts from the company, and could only mention podcasts in a non-promotional manner.

"We won’t tell people to actively download a podcast or where to find them. No mentions of, iTunes, Stitcher, NPR One, etc.," Turpin wrote." Turpin said mentions of podcasts are fine when speaking about the show or its hosts, producers, or contributors, but noted that "references should not specifically promote the content of the podcast," and offered up the following example:


"That’s Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and our blogger on the same subject and Bob Mondello, NPR’s film critic. Thanks so much.


"OK, everyone. You can download Alt.Latino from iTunes and, of course, via the NPR One app.

"Be creative in how you back announce podcasts, but please avoid outright promotion," Turpin wrote, before declaring that NPR One, the much beloved podcast app from the company could not be promoted in any way on member stations.

"Be creative in how you back announce podcasts, but please avoid outright promotion."

Now it would seem very ironic that they wouldn't promote NPR One or its podcasts, but as Nieman Lab points out, NPR's board is made up of station managers, who likely see podcasts as a threat to their long-term viability (and they're correct). Member stations still bring in the majority of revenue for NPR, but the future of the company lies in within NPR One. Instead of looking for ways to innovate on their programming, member stations are using an asinine interpretation of ethics in an attempt to keep the growth of NPR podcasts limited and keep the money flowing.

Yes, NPR needs to make money, and yes, member stations are still important, but the company needs to find a balance between those two entities without damaging the brand of one to appease the other. Cutting off your nose to spite your face has rarely ever been a shrewd business move.