February 18, 2016

NPR decides to come alive

Elizabeth Jensen, Ombudsman, NPREarlier this month, NPR started introducing many of its newscasts with the words "Live from NPR News in Washington." (Or, "Live from NPR News in Culver City, California," the West Coast production center.

The word "live" was new, and listeners noticed. Some have reacted positively but not all are happy, as with any change at NPR. "Who thought it necessary to have your broadcasters utter the word 'live' before the hourly newscast? It reminds me of Saturday Night Live. Maybe that was the idea," was the email comment from Douglas Tedeschi who said he listens from Downingtown, Pa.

I asked the newsroom about the new language. Christopher Turpin, vice president for news programming and operations, said the "live" introduction is "one small part of a broader strategy to try to reinforce one of terrestrial radio's greatest virtues, which is live-ness and a sense of immediacy." Essentially, NPR is "making the case for why you should make an appointment with your radio," he said, adding, "It is there when something happens."

... Listener Vince Pernsteiner of Chippewa Falls, Wis. argues, "People should have some reasonable assurance that the newscasts are live without someone having to tell them so." Maybe, but my guess is that listener opposition will fade over time once the language becomes part of the routine.

There is one wrinkle that to my mind is problematic: The "live" language lives on when the newscasts transition to NPR One, the on-demand mobile app, where the newscasts are definitely not live.

"It's not ideal," Turpin said, but he argued that because the newscasts in the app are time-stamped, users will know when they were recorded. And, he added, "We know our audience is sophisticated enough" to understand that NPR does not have newscasters sitting around ready to deliver a live newscast whenever the user requests to hear one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why is 'mostly fictional' omitted?