Larry Mantle |

The challenge of responding to a breaking story

Often on AirTalk we begin one or more of the program’s hours with a breaking news story.  Usually it’s not something completely out of the blue, but a major development in an ongoing story.  Our producers start a couple of hours before air time calling prospective guests to invite them for the show. 

However, Tuesday morning we discovered a story very close to home that we felt we had to get on during our two hours.  We knew the challenge would be in getting guests to talk about something they probably hadn’t even heard about.

The story I’m referencing is the hidden videotaping of former NPR senior vice-president for development Ron Schiller’s critical comments about the Tea Party movement, Republicans, and evangelical Christians.  Schiller’s secretly recorded statements would seem to add fuel to the arguments made by conservative critics of NPR that the organization is biased against them.

Though we were only able to get one guest for the segment, we were at least able to play four audio excerpts from the video and invite listener comments on the AirTalk page.  Also, check our AirTalk page for a link to NPR’s coverage of the incident and NPR’s statement about it.

Whether you agree with any of Ron Schiller’s comments or not, do you have a problem with him making such statements at a business lunch?  Do you think it will have a negative effect on NPR?