NPR still having a problem with e-mail

NPR is still having a trouble with e-mail. It doesn’t want to give out its journalists’ addresses.

I know. So last century. My kids don’t even DO e-mail, and haven’t for many years, because it’s so slow and indirect and retro. Or something (I confess I don’t fully understand the problem). It’s as though a film studio were still debating whether to take the plunge into VHS.

Don’t know about you, but a pet peeve of mine is going to anyone’s Web page — a business, a nonprofit, any kind of organization or even a personal endeavor such as a blog — and looking for a way to contact the key individuals, only to hit a wall. No e-mail address. Not even a phone number (for those just a step past smoke signals).

I’m not the only one this bugs. In fact, one of our neighbors right here in Colatown made it into an essay on the subject:

NPR does not publish staff email addresses.

It should.

About once a month someone writes to say they find it arrogant and standoffish for a news organization —that demands access to others — to not offer a common form of communication to its audience.

And it’s not always that a listener wants an email address to write a nasty note.

Sometimes they want to share information. Sometimes they want to ask a question, or even provide information to correct an error. Sometimes, they simply want to say “Nice job” directly to a reporter.

“Today I just wanted to tell the ‘A Blog Supreme’ producers-writers how important the blog has been to me,” wrote George Mack, of Columbia, SC., a listener for 20 years.

“However, there is no way to contact them except to post a public comment or to come to a black hole dialog box like the one I’m using this very moment,” he continued. “I’ve always thought this stand-offish concept was just plain arrogant and it gives rise to negative feelings.”

Right now if someone wants to get in touch with NPR via e-mail, they have to go to the “Contact Us” link and fill out a form. It will go to a news show, my office or an office called “listener services.”…

Amen to that, brother. I hate those forms. Whenever I click “contact us” and get a form to fill out, instead of an actual person’s e-mail address, I feel like the message is “Bug off.” Only with a different word in place of “Bug.” Even if that’s not intended, that’s what I receive.

Yes, I know e-mail is a hassle. It consumes too much time, and if you’re a reporter with a national medium, the flood will be Noahesque. But hey, figure out something. If that impersonal box “works” for managing the flood, it’s only because it discourages people from trying to make contact at all, thus reducing the volume.

Nowadays, public radio doesn’t need to be ticking off the listening, voting public. NPR shows great resourcefulness, thoughtfulness and creativity in presenting the news. Apply some of that to basic communcations, please.

And oh, yes. You can reach me at And I’ll get to it as soon as I can (usually same day). And there’s just me.

7 thoughts on “NPR still having a problem with e-mail

  1. bud

    Jesse, it was interesting that none of the “you cut” suggestions made any reference to any kind of military spending. I didn’t notice anything about NASA or highway projects either. Seems like those are some areas that we should take a hard look at. My views about the military are well know on this BLOG.

    As for NASA, with the wind down of the shuttle program seems like now would be a good time to eliminate our manned space program.

    With the growing uncertainty about gasoline availability it seems like now might be a good time to cut new road building. Do we really need I-73?

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad– I’m Facebook friends with my husband’s college classmate, Melissa Block–you could try friending her through me…

  3. bud

    Is the “You Cut” website funded by the taxpayers? If so I would recommend cutting “You Cut” to help balance the budget.

  4. Jesse S.

    Bud, You had me until you hit NASA, but then again I’m one of those space geeks who gets nervous when anyone talks about axing their programs.

    I’ll agree that the shuttle was an overly ambitious project that set us back in the long run. Humanity hasn’t reached the point where we need a Cadillac up there. Also we need huge reforms in NASA, both in spending and management. The second the public found out that there was in-house competition with Aries, it should have been put on the block. The fact that Aries went on when we could have done it for a much lower price, proves that there is some downright arrogance going on; arrogance that prohibits innovation and props up massive aerospace contracts.

    All in all, I still support manned missions. It is something we can never stop learning about and something that never stops teaching us. Either way, that is just my opinion.

    As far as You Cut, yeah, utter -er we’ll say, garbage, that sounds much better than what I’m thinking. It makes me a little nauseous seeing such an obviously spun piece of propaganda on a .gov site, at least a party politics related piece of propaganda. If you are going to put something up and host it on my dime, it had better pertain to record, not your populist shell game. Something so obvious, again, in my opinion, deserves some kind of censure. All it does is drag everything down with it.

  5. Tom Fillinger

    Brad – A HEARTY “Thanks” for raising this issue of people who want to participate but live “under the covers” or behind an electronic shield.

    My personal standard is 3 hours. If you contact me I respond in 3 hours. I may not be able to do what you are requesting but you will KNOW that I got your message.

    Also, Video is NOT the best response. Many folks cannot view it and text is much more amenable to preservation.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving. I am trimming many such projects as BLOGS due to overload and an OBJECTIVE MERIC (I know many on your site do not believe in such – – until of course they go to the bank – – then they scream loudly if things are not totally objective and measurable right down to the penny!!) that makes such participation less than fruiful. So, lop those off and focus on what produces the most.

  6. Nick Nielsen

    I suggested they let the Bush tax cut lapse for those earning over $250k. Strangely, it was a bigger chunk than anything else they’ve come up with.

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