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NPR Demonstrates How Not to Do Journalism

by: JayinPhiladelphia

Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 15:30:00 PM PDT

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In a blatantly biased, completely one-sided shallow hit piece on the film "Food, Inc", National Public Radio disgraced themselves today by running a piece on Weekend Edition Saturday that sounded like it just as well may have been created by a PR all-star team from Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  And if those names sound mighty familiar in connection to NPR, there's a reason for that.  What a way for them to celebrate the spirit of independence on this day, btw...

The piece is 4 minutes and 27 seconds of tired old corporate propaganda under the guise of faux 'down-home' populism; from the title at the link, to the arrogant and provocative first sentence and completely untruthful last sentence of the summary, and all the way on down to the closing seconds of the interview.  My favorite bit of the "report" was the accusation that when we 'attack' Monsanto, we are running 'the last generation of independent family farmers' off their land.  I'm honestly surprised the piece stopped just short of calling us terrorists, but they must have run out of time.  However, the piece is still full of enough crap to fertilize every field within listening distance of the NPR affiliates that aired it.

Shame on you, NPR, for running this type of "journalism".

JayinPhiladelphia :: NPR Demonstrates How Not to Do Journalism
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NPR has to remove (4.00 / 2)
all the Bushies before they start reporting real news again.

They need to remove corporate sponsorship (4.00 / 1)
at least the corporate sponsorship that passes itself off as thinly disguised commercials.

I have succumbed to the Twitter craze. @Omir55

[ Parent ]
are those their sponsors? (4.00 / 2)
Gates, etc?

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

Yes... (4.00 / 1)
Their 'corporate underwriters', I believe they're called - I haven't listened to NPR regularly in over a year now, but the Gates Foundation and ADM are major sponsors, or 'consideration providers', whatever-they're-called...

Monsanto I don't believe (then again, they may be - I honestly don't know these days) is a direct sponsor, but they are (or have been very recently) a sponsor of their "Marketplace" segments.

[ Parent ]
btw what i found troublesome (4.00 / 2)
about the broadcast was that they used 1 farmer to represent all farmers. All farmers don't agree on things.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

Possible actions (4.00 / 2)
I sent an email to NPR saying the reporting was biased.  Is there something we can do to make Food Inc available more broadly?  

[ Parent ]
I think, in a way... (4.00 / 1)
All these desperate and increasingly angry attacks on the film are bringing way more attention to it than it otherwise would have received.  

They're creating all this controversy, and I'm sure more than a few people are now saying "I gotta go see what this is about...".

[ Parent ]
Several of the people interviewed (4.00 / 2)
come up linked to the Hudson Insttitutes's Center for Global Food Issues, which is to healthy food and farmers as Phyllis Schlafley is to women's rights.

The review is shallow and fails to provide any of the many alternative views or historic perspective. I don't know if NPR had any other bits on Food, Inc. One would hope though it may have been a coded message in Cokie Roberts razor sharp analysis of the week.

[ Parent ]
Specifically two people at the Hudson Inst (4.00 / 1)
Dennis and Alex Avery.

Alex is the director, a position held by his dad Dennis until he went to work for the Bush Administration.

This dynamic duo was the main source of pro-rBGH until Monsanto sold that division.

Most of the "Negative" news on organic, sustainable, and local comes from them.  I expect since conventional Ag has started claiming they are "under attack"  expect to see more and more stories about how poor corporate Ag is being mistreated by those big liberal groups and bloggers.

[ Parent ]
Agreed... (4.00 / 1)
And the part about the one farmer who was 'sitting on the porch of the home he was born in', which directly segued into the ridiculous 'if you attack Monsanto, you're running these guys out of their homes' bs.  That's what they were insinueating, no matter how many weasel words they cloaked it in.


[ Parent ]
Errrr... (4.00 / 1)
insinuating, not "insinueating".  Although that's an interesting new word to play with in this context...


[ Parent ]
On the other hand... (4.00 / 1)
What else has been broadcast on various NPR programs about the movie? I don't know the answer, but I'm not about to cudgel NPR because of 5 minutes of airtime. Was that piece typical of their programming, or part of a wider spectrum of information?

The main problem... (4.00 / 1)
is that this person obviously didn't see the film (or worse yet, did see it and still decided to go ahead with this...), and they spent 4 and a half minutes building up a strawman, using the movie and fanning flames on a current 'controversy' just to get across an ideological viewpoint.  That's Fox News-style media, NPR should be better than that.

As a commenter above also mentions (I didn't look into it myself), they may have also used Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues people (Denis Avery and the "organics are killing the planet!" nutjobs...).

If they want to run pieces like this, that's fine of course.  But I'd like to see them stop pretending that their 'corporate underwriters' and etc... don't influence their reporting.

This piece was honestly some of the worst 'reporting' I've ever heard on a public radio station, and for that matter I doubt it would have even flown on many corporate news stations in its current form.

[ Parent ]
Problems... (4.00 / 1)

Objectivity 1:

The following quote from text on the page you linked to is interesting.

But ordinary farmers - the people who grow the lion's share of what America eats - have largely been left out of the mainstream media debate over the film.

One of the reasons it interests me is that Scott Simon did not say

the people who grow the lion's share of what America eats

Someone added that to the text.

Objectivity 2:

The NPR page you linked to features an eight minute Morning Edition interview with Kenner and Pollan from less than a month ago. The interview was a one-sided presentation of the film's perspective. Did you rise up in righteous indignation about that at the time?

Objectivity 3:

Bob Edwards Weekend presented 40 minutes of a one-sided conversation with Kenner and Pollan. I don't remember that you criticized him for it. This aired on a Baltimore NPR station. I haven't heard him address the other sides, and he probably won't. I haven't done the search, but I'm sure other NPR programs have featured Kenner, Pollan, or Kenner and Pollan.


The segment you object to featured Richard Oswald, an "ordinary farmer" who was driven out of hog farming in the '80s. Who drove him out? Not the people who want to improve agriculture and provide more healthful food options.

Has "this person" seen the film? Who do you mean? Scott Simon has at least had the opportunity to see it, because it's playing in Washington and Bethesda right now. Frank Morris might have been able to see a distributed copy in his reporter capacity, but the movie isn't playing within 40 miles of Kansas City, Kansas or North Platte, Nebraska. The farmers quoted in the piece probably haven't seen it. I hope it does get to rural America. Not that Kansas City is rural, folks, that isn't what I mean.

Take Monsanto, ADM, and the Hudson Institute out of the equation entirely - a stretch, but humor me. Lots of ordinary farmers will defend what they learned at the land grant colleges and from their parents, and their way of life, without help from those organizations or NPR. Their voices should be heard.

This report was nowhere near Fox News or my idea of "worst reporting." I think you have been unfair, although I can understand that you didn't like what you heard.

[ Parent ]
But you expressed your opinion very well. nt (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
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