In another example of old media vs. new media, NPR is discouraging its member stations from promoting NPR podcasts and the new NPR One app.
Nieman Lab broke the story last week. In a nutshell, “NPR can’t promote NPR One — the lauded, loved app that is basically the future of NPR — to what is literally the group of people that would be most interested in it, NPR radio listeners. NPR is investing substantially in developing podcasts — but it isn’t allowed to tell radio listeners where to find them or how they can listen to them.
“NPR is an entity based in Washington, D.C.; ‘public radio’ includes it, but also other radio distributors like PRI, APM, and PRX and, most importantly, the over 900 NPR member stations that dot the landscape. And these players don’t always have the same interests. A local station’s greatest asset is its connection to the local community, symbolized by the broadcast tower that, uniquely, lets it reach radio listeners in cars and homes. NPR’s greatest asset is the value its audience sees in its content and brand, which might be delivered via a radio signal, a website, a mobile app, or a podcast.
“This tension — between the local stations who pay the largest share of NPR’s bills and the network that sees a future beyond terrestrial radio signals — is basically everywhere you look in public radio. (NPR’s board is majority station managers, which is at the root of it all.) And it’s the right frame through which to view this new “ethics” policy from NPR. Here’s Chris Turpin, NPR’s vice president for news programming and operations:
As podcasts grow in number and popularity we are talking about them more often in our news programs. We are also fielding more and more questions from news staff and Member stations about our policies for referring to podcasts on air. To that end, we want to establish some common standards, especially for language in back announces. Our hope is to establish basic principles that are easy to understand and allow plenty of flexibility for creativity. These guidelines apply to all podcasts, whether produced by NPR or by other entities.
— No Call to Action: We won’t tell people to actively download a podcast or where to find them. No mentions of npr.org, iTunes, Stitcher, NPR One, etc.
GOOD: “That’s Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and our blogger on the same subject and Bob Mondello, NPR’s film critic. Thanks so much.”
BAD: “OK, everyone. You can download Alt.Latino from iTunes and, of course, via the NPR One app.”
— Informational, not Promotional: When referring to podcasts, and the people who host, produce, or contribute to them, we will mention the name of the podcast but not in a way that explicitly endorses it. References should not specifically promote the content of the podcast (e.g., “This week, the Politics Podcast team digs into delegate math.”) If you feel a podcast title needs explaining (e.g. Hidden Brain), some additional language can be added (e.g., “That’s Shankar Vedantam, he hosts a podcast that explores the unseen patterns of human behavior. It’s called, Hidden Brain”). Just to repeat: Be creative in how you back announce podcasts, but please avoid outright promotion.
— No NPR One: For now, NPR One will not be promoted on the air.”
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