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Monday, March 14, 2005

NPR Notes Firewall Between Fund Raising, News Operation

We asked NPR for a response Friday to Ryan Sager's Tech Central Station column containing allegations from a Political MoneyLine report that campaign finance advocates bought favorable editorial coverage on the public radio news and entertainment network.

An NPR spokesman acknowledged our request late Friday and promised a full response today. In the meantime, NPR's David Umansky noted the following:

"However, you should know that there is a broad and high firewall between the News Department and the people who raise money for NPR. Also, we would not accept funds if the donor has an expectation of having an effect on NPR's news coverage."

We'll pass along the complete NPR response as soon as it is received today or whenever.

UPDATE: Umansky followed up with additional information, saying:

"Peter Overby began reporting on money, power and influence in 1994, which was the year he first jointed NPR. NPR did receive support from two foundations to sustain this reporting, but I can assure you it was not in the same neighborhood, not even the same country, as the $1.2 million Sager reported."

Umansky was unable to provide the precise amount contributed by those two foundations.

Umansky further noted that:

"Overby has had no contact with the two foundations and he hasn't received any instructions or directions from them or anybody at NPR on how this issue should be reported. NPR reporters are all independent."