When encountering public radio, news consumers from various demographic groups share a common problem: They feel excluded. “It is really important that people hear themselves in the programming,” said Margaret Low Smith, v.p. of programming. “We’re talking about a private party, versus a party where everyone’s included and planning the same party,” she said.The study was conducted by the Los Angeles-based firm SmithGeiger.
Quoted in a presentation on the study is a young adult Latino user of new media: “NPR, I feel, is mostly for educated adults from middle class and up. That is my impression.”
Some objections to the traits of NPR News are sure to prompt pushback from listeners and producers who value complexity and ambiguity, and don’t mind lots of words. Wordiness is a problem for one white woman who spoke to researchers about NPR: “I think it can be clever and quirky, and smart and insightful. But I don’t choose to listen to it because it’s too much talking for me.”
Smith believes there are ways to welcome more people to the audience without sacrificing quality. “It’s not about being not as smart or not as deep,” she said. It’s about telling stories with an ear that detects exclusion. NPR hosts do that now, she said, by quickly interrupting interviews with an identifying phrase when someone drops a name that would be unfamiliar to many people.
To be consistent in catching off-putting insider assumptions, “it’s critical that people at the editorial table reflect a range of economic positions in life, a range of political views and a range of color,” Smith added.
Oct 7, 2010
Study: NPR is a party that you're not invited to
A new study says that National Public Radio needs to shed "perceptions that its programs are elitist and stuffy" if it wants to grow its audience. From a Current report on the study: