HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Oct. 23, 2012, 11 a.m.

NPR CEO Gary Knell: We need to “smash together the digital and so-called audio journalists”

In a visit to the Nieman Foundation, the NPR boss discusses digital transformation, his earlier work at Sesame Workshop, and political perceptions of Big Bird.

After stepping into the big chair at NPR almost a year ago, Gary Knell says one of his first priorities was to “smash together the digital and so-called audio journalists.” That’s less of a violent collision and more of vision statement about NPR’s future. Speaking at the Nieman Foundation last week, the NPR CEO said “we should eliminate these distinctions. Because, really, the audience doesn’t view news that way anymore.”

When Knell joined an NPR that was fresh off a scandal that claimed several executives (including the previous CEO) and cast a cloud over funding from federal and private sources. In a scenario like that righting the ship would seem to be the first job. But Knell said he wanted to continue to push NPR to innovate while stabilizing its support network.

The two go hand-in-hand, Knell said. In order for NPR to not just survive but grow, they’ll need to keep delivering news and other programming that can’t be found elsewhere on all platforms. Staying competitive in the broader radio and news landscape is how NPR will ensure its sustainability, Knell said. “If you’re just serving up fare that the marketplace is also serving up there is no reason for a public subsidy. And that’s just true, in general, of anything in my opinion,” Knell said.

In the last year NPR has been active in developing new tools such as the Infinite Player, worked with Ford on an NPR app for Internet-connected cars, and invested in a news apps team.

Knell said they’re also trying to expand their audience on the local and national level. NPR is currently filling out its team to cover race and ethnicity, which was made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They’re also focusing on supporting member stations whose roles are changing as other media decline within their community.

“I’m very devoted to the idea that media is the most powerful teacher that’s ever been invented,” he said. “Maybe that was drummed into my head at Sesame Street.”

Above you’ll find video of Knell’s conversation with Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski. Note: Audience questions in the Q&A portion were off-mic and have been edited out of the video; you’ll be able to understand what was asked from Knell’s answers.

POSTED     Oct. 23, 2012, 11 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
Running a sports league and running a news operation aren’t the same thing. But there are lessons to be learned from baseball’s success in navigating mobile.
Why The New York Times built a tool for crowdsourced time travel
Madison, a new tool that asks readers to help identify ads in the Times archives, is part of a new open source platform for crowdsourcing built by the company’s R&D Lab.
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
Its new site JSTOR Daily highlights interesting research and offers background and context on current events.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
413The new Vox daily email, explained
The company’s newsletter, Vox Sentences, enters an increasingly crowded inbox. Can concise writing and smart aggregation on the day’s news help expand their audience?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Public Radio International
The Daily Beast
The Bay Citizen
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
Semana
Kaiser Health News
CNN
Voice of San Diego
Bayosphere
Honolulu Civil Beat
The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News
Storify