Vivian Schiller and NPR

By now you’ve probably heard that Vivian Schiller has stepped down as president of NPR. Her resignation follows an embarrassing incident where two NPR fundraising executives met with a filmmaker pretending to represent a Muslim organization considering a gift to NPR. 

Whether or not you agree with the “ambush tactics” used by this particular filmmaker (for the record, I don’t), the comments contained in the video were reprehensible and contrary to everything we stand for at WXXI. While the key NPR fundraiser involved in the meeting had already submitted his resignation to take a position in another organization, NPR did the right thing by making his resignation effective immediately.

This was the second high-profile incident that occurred on Vivian Schiller’s watch (the other being the termination of news analyst Juan Williams over comments he made on another network). With the debate continuing on Capitol Hill over continued federal funding for public broadcasting, Schiller agreed that NPR would be better served by a change in leadership. 

As a listener or viewer of WXXI, you may be wondering how this affects our station. WXXI is licensed to and responsible to this community.  WXXI is not owned by NPR or PBS (both are membership organizations that we pay dues or subscription fees to, in order to have rights to national programs such as All Things Considered and PBS NewsHour). We strive to serve the Greater Rochester area with the best non-commercial programming and services, with a goal of working to improve the quality of life in the region. While government funding is very important to our educational mission, our major source of revenue comes from individual giving, from the more than 26,000 people who voluntarily become members of WXXI.

Our pledge to you is that WXXI will continue to work to earn and maintain your trust. The events in Washington in no way change our commitment to public service and our goal to be an independent voice for the Greater Rochester area.




Letter re: Vivian Schiller

On Friday, I sent an email to WXXI noting the work that Vivian Schiller has accomplished in her leadership of NPR. As a journalist who has worked closely with NPR correspondents, I can testify that her leadership has brought the American public stories from aound the world, and in-depth reporting that had been lacking. Some examples: Frank Langfitt's reporting from Africa or having Howard Berkes not just covering the UBB mine disater in this country, but digging deep for continuing stories on miners and how they risk their lives to bring us electricity. When other news stations have packed up, Schiller sees fit to continue on so we in American can have a broader understanding of events that shape our lives. Personally, I saw no need to Schiller to resign. As far as the history with Juan Williams, I could never understand why he was being paid by NPR and Fox News.

Now we know that Ron Shiller was unfairly, and perhaps even illegally targeted -- and so was Vivian Schiller.

I believe an apology is in order for both.