NPR ombud: Soros money bothers newsroom staffers

NPR is using a $1.8 million grant from the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations for its Impact on Government project, which will have public radio reporters in every state keeping tabs on state issues. NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard says "a deep current of concern has run through the newsroom" about taking money from Soros. A longtime producer tells her:

I do have problems with it precisely because he is so left wing and were he on the other side I would still have problems with it. I don't have a problem with people supporting particular causes but I do have a problem when obvious partisanship spills over into your support of those causes.

NPR staffers don't question the need for tighter scrutiny of statehouses, as planned by the Impact of Government project, but "they just privately wish the money hadn't come from Soros," writes Shepard. "A few do note that NPR takes money from lots of foundations and are not bothered." The ombud explains why she waited seven months to question the money from Soros:

Until now, I have stayed away from this topic because I wanted to see if NPR's audience and staff were concerned about the grant. What I have found is that people keep asking me about the Open Society donation. The other day, a Wall Street Journal reporter asked me about it, in a whispered, concerned "is-this-alright?" tone that I often hear.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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