All Things Inconsiderate?: Issues Arise With New NPR Book

By Arturo R. García

Like any good journalistic outlet, NPR prides itself on thorough coverage and accuracy. Which makes the errors in its’ 40th-anniversary retrospective, This Is NPR, stand out even more.

(Note: As mentioned in the past, Racialicious Editrix Latoya Peterson is a consultant for NPR, and has contributed a piece to one of their blogs.)

First, as St. Petersburg Times columnist Eric Deggans reported Friday, there’s no mention in the book at all of All Things Considered host Michele Norris, the first black woman to earn a regular hosting slot on the network. From the story:

Norris was asked to contribute a chapter, along with other staffers or people who appear regularly on NPR for the book, which weaves the stories into a chronological history. Other contributors include Cokie Roberts, Nina Totenberg, P. J. O’Rourke and Paula Poundstone. But because she was writing her own book, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, Norris couldn’t contribute an essay and was not included anywhere else, said NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm.

It was an inexcusable mistake,” Rehm added. “She should have been in the book.”

Deggans also notes the book’s omission of the recently-released Juan Williams, who had been a news analyst with the network for more than a decade before his firing last month; and of the African-American Public Radio Consortium, the group that helped NPR develop The Tavis Smiley Show, which first aired on the network before Smiley and NPR parted ways in 2004. Smiley doesn’t have an essay in the book, either, though he is referenced three times.

The only POC mentioned in the book who contributes an essay is Tell Me More host Michel Martin, who writes about covering the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. Oddly enough, though, the picture running alongside the story is of reporter Audie Cornish, who isn’t mentioned at all otherwise.