Wanting to listen to the news while cooking dinner, I turned the radio to NPR news this Saturday, December 1st. The news round-up at the top of the hour devoted less than one minute to the strike by clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest cargo complex; A strike that is coming at the beginning of the busiest shopping season for retailers and comes at the heels of the historic Black Friday strike by some Wall Mart employees.
And so what does NPR select to spend the majority of the remaining hour after the news roundup? Ricky Martin’s regret with not coming out earlier about his homosexuality and a lengthy interview with William P. Young, the author of “The Shack.”
If by this time you have not picked up on NPR’s ever increasing obsession with steering clear of news containing information that could even remotely call into question prevailing relations of power and dominance than you really need to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. So strenuously studious is NPR news in avoiding stories with substance that it is morphing into version or perversion of “Fresh Air.” They might as well just put Terry Gross in charge of the news programming.
You can predict that at end of each hour you will hear a story about sports, celebrities, literature, or art, anything but what has the potential for creating discomfort or dissonance in the listener. You would think that the coverage of contemporary topics that call into question the reigning ideology would provide an endless repository for stories worthy of the name news.
NPR should find within itself some courage and quit being so pusillanimous. Why not have a story on how we have come to be so blase and accepting of 400 individuals owning more wealth than 185 million citizens, or so many many more contradictions that go unexamined in what is punitively the most democratic of all countries.
If you think of ideology as the creation, distribution, and regulation of symbolic forms whose meanings are put in the service of power (John B. Thompson), then NPR news is in danger of becoming little more than an mouth piece for those who stand to benefit by leaving the existing structures of power unquestioned. Wrapping itself up in an au courant cultural cloak is a threadbare attempt to avoid controversy or ruffle the feathers of its corporate sponsors.
It might just be better to cook dinner in silence.