"R" stands for religion?

NPR logoToo much religion reporting? How is that possible, one might ask? A couple of National Public Radio listeners feel that way, along with its ombudsman, Jeffrey A. Dvorkin. Since I rarely listen to NPR -- I bike to work -- it would be difficult for me judge whether NPR covers too much news of a religious nature. I can say that I think Dvorkin fails to give credible statistics regarding the radio network's coverage and generalizes on the subject. NPR listener Terri Dziekonski weighs in on Dvorkin's column:

I have lately come to believe that the "R" in NPR stands for religion. Why do we have to have a comment from a conservative minister on almost every news item reported? And, why does everything that goes on of a religious bent have to be reported in great detail[?] The coverage of the Pope's death was not the only incidence of this. There seems to me to be a distinctly right leaning to the reporting on NPR these days and I, for one, am not happy with it.

Followed by Jo Sullivan:

I did not write last week, but I too am dismayed and disgusted by the outpouring of religion that you have put on your programs in recent months. I do not listen to NPR to be proselytized. Christians have their own stations, and spend billions to get their message out. Why give them a free venue? Are you catering the current administration?

Dvorkin fails to address the obvious ignorance in both of these statements. Clearly religious issues need to be reported thoroughly. The issues are complex and if it's true that the network gives religious issues thorough coverage, it should be commended, not criticized. I need a clear example of a reporter going overboard to be convinced on this account. Second, Sullivan's comment is ridiculous. Proselytizing on NPR?

That said, it's not the first time this claim has been raised in the ombudsman's column. This accusation receives a rebuttal from Dvorkin via senior producer Walter Watson, but Dvorkin goes onto agree with the "many listeners" who feel that the network has given too much play to religious issues.

But the sheer volume of stories about religion is overwhelming many listeners. Perhaps NPR News should monitor the overall amount of airtime devoted to this one subject.

Now it's up for you all to decide -- especially NPR listeners -- whether public radio has given too much attention to religion. And please check out NPR's religion page. Other news websites should take note of this.

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