NPR will cancel ‘Tell Me More’, eliminate 28 jobs to balance budget

By Ben Mook

NPR announced today that it will cancel Tell Me More, its weekday midday show with an emphasis on news and issues relating to people of color, effective Aug. 1. The network will also eliminate 28 jobs in its newsroom and library, eight of which are currently unfilled.

“Today we are announcing changes in the newsroom to ensure we remain a leader in a dynamic and intensely competitive news environment, while living within NPR’s budget,” said Margaret Low Smith, NPR’s senior v.p. for news, in a memo to staff.

Martin

“NPR news management has assured me that the mission that we’ve undertaken will continue in new ways,” Martin said. (Photo: Stephen Voss, NPR)

Smith said the restructuring aims in part to meet a mandate for NPR to balance its budget by fiscal year 2015.

“These times require that we organize ourselves in different ways and that we’re smarter about how we address the different platforms that we reach our audiences on,” said NPR Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson, as quoted in an article by NPR’s David Folkenflik. “We’re trying to make the most of the resources that we have and ensure that we keep radio healthy and try to develop audience in the digital arena.”

Tell Me More host Michel Martin will stay with NPR, contributing to newsmagazines and participating in live events at member stations. The show’s executive producer, Carline Watson, will head up a newly announced editorial team to work with Martin. Lynette Clemetson, senior supervising editor of Morning Edition, will take on a new role as director of editorial initiatives to oversee Martin’s transition “and tackle other major projects as they emerge,” Smith said.

“I’m so very proud of the work we’ve all done here at Tell Me More for the past seven years,” Martin said in a statement. “This outstanding team has reached out to people who would never have had a place on public radio otherwise. We’ve brought new voices, new ideas and a fresh take on things and we’ve proven that this can be done without sacrificing excellence. We’ve also had a lot of fun doing it.

“As you imagine [sic], I’m very disappointed with today’s news.

“I hoped we could have found a way to save the show, but NPR news management has assured me that the mission that we’ve undertaken will continue in new ways and I’m sticking around be a part of making that happen.“

In addition, Ron Elving is stepping down as head of NPR’s Washington Desk and will be replaced by Beth Donovan, now deputy Washington editor. Elving will stay on as a senior editor and correspondent.

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