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NY Times Story Profiles New NPR Chief, Examines Challenges

The former CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller, received a lot of attention for the controversies that erupted during her tenure and ultimately led to her forced resignation last March. So, it stands to reason that her replacement, Gary Knell, is getting much attention as well. The New York Times had a piece Sunday on Knell and the challenges he faces. Knell has said he will fight for federal funding, according to the Times story, but that he wants to "depoliticize" the debate. The Times reports that his "depoliticize" comment didn't sit well with the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. The group says that's "code for appeasing public broadcasting's conservative enemies by adding more right-wing content and censoring things they may not like." According to the Times, some listeners didn't like it when he referred to NPR as a "product" when he appeared on Talk of the Nation last week. They complained that "NPR was a vital information service, not a product for sale." Not to worry, says Steve Bass, the CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting. Bass tells the Times that Knell is "driven by public service. That's what you want. He's not a guy coming in looking at this as a business." And in his interview with the Times, Knell says NPR is "primarily a content organization, and I want to make sure that content is driving a lot of the strategy at NPR."