Velo, Rapido | This is about a few different things.
Listening to On The Media’s report on Lisa Simeone this morning, because I ran into a friend on Saturday who heard on Democracy Now that she was fired for “attending a protest,” which I’m tempted to say is why I don’t listen to Democracy Now. Mostly I find it to be one sided. Not in the “all stories have two sides” sense but in the “blinders on” sense. In the “any other perspective on this is the wrong perspective” sense. And the “NPR is a corporate tool” sense.
Roll Call initially reported that she was a “the spokeswoman” for Occupy DC.
So imagine our surprise when we realized the spokeswoman for October 2011, the group occupying Freedom Plaza, is Lisa Simeone, host of the radio program “Soundprint,” heard every Sunday at 11 p.m. on Washington’s public radio affiliate, WAMU. Simeone is also host of the NPR show “The World of Opera.”
That was how I heard it. “The spokeswoman.” I think we could have another good conversation about political activism, expressing opinions and the difference between being paid to advance a campaign and deciding to go to a protest. NPR’s ethics policy is pretty clear that “NPR journalists” can’t really have any political voice whatsoever. We can call that a BS policy, but it is at least clear.
NPR’s policy doesn’t make a distinction, but I do think there’s a difference between participating in a march and acting as a spokes person for a group. It bothers me that Democracy Now reported that she was fired just for going to the protest. But the more I hear it repeated that she was acting as a spokesperson, the more I’d like to know where that is coming from. Was she taking press calls for Occupy Wall Street, “I’m Lisa Simeone, and I’m a spokesperson for this movement,” or did she allow herself to be interviewed by a reporter who was moving among the protesters?
Scott Simon can write opinion pieces but Lisa Simeone can’t speak out in the streets. Isn’t an op-ed really just a gentleman’s handbill?
Baltimore Sun called her a spokesperson, too. They didn’t elaborate on it either, though they added a curious twist to their reporting when they called Occupy DC “overtly partisan.” File under: you keep using that word. Pretty sure “partisan,” is not the word they’re looking for.
More tendrils: as the story was emerging, it was incredibly confusing to tease apart the fact that Simeone had two gigs — one as a Soundprint producer and one as host of World of Opera. NPR is no longer distributing World of Opera. Soundprint’s website says she and that show have parted ways. See also, this and that.
OTM didn’t call Slocum more firmly on the huge distinction between a music host, who isn’t paid to have any insights on politics or current events, whatsoever, and a news host.