Friday, January 24, 2014

Shoddy Journalism & Tinpot Moderators at NPR

I love NPR, and listen and donate to it frequently. But the last 24 hours have soured me a bit, at least on some NPR employees.

Take a look at this segment, which ran yesterday morning on NPR.

It's not very good, but I suppose it's a little better than yesterday, when it had the line "There's also miraculous healings and prophesying" [at the charismatic Catholic church being discussed].

I took issue with this claim by posting on their Codeswitch blog. It's one thing to state that "parishioners report miraculous hearings". It's quite another thing to state flatly -- even if ungrammatically -- that these "miraculous healings" actually took place. Did the reporters witness any "miraculous healings"? Were medical records verified? I'm willing to bet they did not and were not.

In response to my posting (which was rapidly voted up), NPR first (silently) fixed the grammar but kept the part about "miraculous healings". Then they deleted my comment, together with the comments of many other people. When I complained about this, my comment was briefly reinstated by Codeswitch employee Matt Thompson. He agreed it had been deleted unfairly. Once again, it was rapidly voted up; NPR listeners know bad journalism when they see it.

After some time (I don't know when) my comment was deleted again. This time Matt Thompson refused to answer my e-mail to explain why. I then took my case to Gene Demby, who apparently runs this NPR blog. He couldn't come up with any good reasons to delete my comment or the comments of dozens of others. He only claimed that "the story was about a specific faith tradition; the deleted comments argued about its illegitimacy". Bullshit. My deleted comments were about the shoddy journalism of NPR's reporters, who shouldn't be reporting "miraculous healing" as fact if they had no evidence. A simple rephrasing would have made that clear; it's Journalism 101.

And even if other people's comments argued about the "illegitimacy" of a "faith tradition", so what? Are "faith traditions" somehow above the reach of criticism?

Tinpot dictators and control freaks like Demby should not be moderating blogs for NPR. NPR stands for "National Public Radio", not "National Pablum Radio". NPR should be using the loosest possible standards to ensure robust discussion and debate.

Update: Gene Demby is so insecure he actually blocked me from following him on twitter. This guy shouldn't be employed at NPR!


Steve Watson said...

the deleted comments argued about its illegitimacy

As opposed to the original reportage, which implicitly affirmed its legitimacy? Yo, journos: if you're going to be neutral, then damn well be neutral.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Exactly. I think it's a case of Christian privilege. Reports about Christian belief & practice are neutral because it is the dominant religion of the culture. Only pesky atheists could disagree.

reboho said...

Gave up on NPR when they went overboard on "false equivalency". Morning Edition just became unbearable as well as more and more stories on things like faith. As much as I enjoyed other aspects of their programming, I could no longer in good conscience continue to support them monetarily. Bought an XM radio and built up my blog reading list and didn't look back.

colnago80 said...

They're just following the lamestream media with the he said she said mentality.

Steve Watson said...

@colnago80: If they're saying flat-out "mircales happened" that's not even he-said/she-said neutrality. It's giving unchallenged credence to the "he" side of the story, with "she" being ignored.

Anonymous said...

Even your remaining comment that was up over the weekend has been deleted, along with one I posted there along similar lines to your original post.

Unknown said...

There is nothing that impresses me about NPR. They are mainstream/lamestream media/propaganda, just like all others.

They are vile hypocrites who air cooking shows that feature meat being cooked. So they advocate the needless breeding & murder of animals, just because somebody doesn't want to go vegan?

But then they fill their airwaves with all this brainless idiotic woo-woo "medical" garbage from worthless subhumans like Deepshit Chokeoff and Dr Ooze.

Alternative media such as Russia Today, with fantastic shows like "The Keiser Report", are infinitely superior, of course, to garbage like NPR, ABC, FOX, MSNBC, CNN.

And even RT spouts a lot of unprovable & unproven conspiracy garbage.

The bottom line: I have no respect for anyone who does not worship the only god that exists: Math.

There should be a round-the-clock mathematical modeling channel, that mathematically models & quantifies cause & effect of events in the world. Scientific. Political. Whatever.