Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Crisis at NPR! Whole Foods faces recession!

On June 1, I posted to this blog, not for the first time, about the racial and class bias that permeate coverage of child welfare at National Public Radio. I cited as one example the fact that the network managed to do four separate stories on a report about trans-racial adoption and talk only to white people. I also said this bias can be seen in other coverage as well, citing this example:

Shortly after a transit strike ended in New York City in 2006, NPR's Robert Smith reported on a rally of transit workers – who, in New York City, are largely minorities. Every soundbite from the leader of these workers, who spend their workdays on crowded busses and rat-infested subway tunnels, was followed by a snide comment from Smith – whose job entails no physical labor more strenuous than pushing the "record" and "play" buttons of his tape recorder at the same time. And when a motorist was insufficiently outraged at being inconvenienced by the rally itself, Smith even fed him his lines. You can listen to the story here. And then I hope you'll consider doing what I did when I first heard it: Taking the money you might normally give to your public radio station this year and sending it to the New York City Transport Workers Union instead.

Apparently, management at NPR likes its stories about the working poor filled with sneer and snide, because Smith got a promotion of sorts. He filled in as anchor of Weekend Edition Sunday this week. And this time, he did a story from a place where, clearly, he is far more comfortable than among transit workers: a Whole Foods supermarket. It seems that this home of the $8.00 chocolate bar is having a tough time in the age of $4.00-a-gallon gasoline. So Smith accompanied some college students on a tour in which a Whole Foods functionary pointed out that there really were some bargains to be had. And, without a shred of irony, he included in the story a comment from an analyst who said the chain could use a dose of humility.

No snide remarks or sneering comments this time. When Whole Foods suffers, all of NPR feels their pain.