NPR’s Telling Move


By Jamila Bey

jamila-beyNPR, you’ve really done it this time.

For all your talk about “valuing diversity” and wanting to bring new and fresh perspectives to the air, I call bunk. Cancelling Michel Martin of NPR’s Tell Me More is a stupid decision and it speaks to a complete lack of understanding of what some of us hoped you would do.

Yes, there are individual other (few and far between) Black hosts, and I can’t leave out Arun Rath on the weekends, but here’s my beef:

Tell Me More did more to bring actual diverse THOUGHT and expertise than any of your other shows. I didn’t hear the same people on CNN and MSNBC and All Things Considered and Morning Edition as I did on Tell Me More. (Or Talk of the Nation for that matter.)

Your story selection, your editorial bent and the guests you put on are all less female, more white, and more easy to discern as of August 1, when Tell Me More will no longer be on air.

This is a really boneheaded move on your part, and frankly, former NPR host Tavis Smiley called it a decade ago. (Then did Ed Gordon, then did Farai Chideya…).

Truly sad.

Now, many will argue and say what about NPR’s “The Race Card Project,” and “Code Switch.” And I say to you, those are individual stories placed as islands unto other shows. Tell Me More was a culture and a mission that looked at the way news was discussed and reported. 

I lament your decision, and I believe you are wrong.

Jamila Bey is a former producer for National Public Radio where she worked on several shows including Tell Me More with Michel Martin, Talk of the Nation, The Tavis Smiley Show, Morning Edition, and All Things Considered.