Wed December 7, 2011
inTune Station Blog

From the Desk of President Neil Best: Dec 2011

Dear Friends,

I have friends who make it a goal to visit a new country every year.  Several years ago they were making plans to visit Myanmar, a country the United States State Department had listed as being unsafe to visit. When I asked why they were choosing to visit a country with such a turbulent political climate the answer was very direct. They told me, “Neil, after you travel to 60 countries you can’t count on everything being as safe as a visit to Paris.”

In thinking about public radio’s coverage of the world this past year I was reminded of that conversation. It would certainly be wonderful to be a foreign correspondent and cover talks on a myriad of subjects in Paris, Tokyo, or Rio de Janeiro. But very seldom is that where the news is taking place.

This past year, it took place in the desert of Libya, the mountains of Afghanistan, near the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, Tahrir Square in Cario, and dozens of other places we learned about as we listen to KUNC every day.

Today I would like to share some anecdotes to put a human face on this coverage and increase appreciation for the extraordinary work that is done on our behalf.

The conflict in Libya this spring and summer had no defined “front lines.”  NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro brought us extended illuminating coverage of what was happening despite constantly changing circumstances and a total lack of a safety net. It meant in addition to reporting, Lourdes constantly had to make assessments regarding her own personal safety.

Mexico City Correspondent Jason Beaubien spent several weeks in Libya in the early spring and was on his way to the United States to spend time with his wife and children when the earthquake in Tokyo took place. Rather than a family reunion, Jason caught a plane bound for Tokyo and began his outstanding coverage of the recovery efforts from this natural disaster.

NPR’s Yuki Noguchi was on maternity leave when the Japan earthquake took place on March 11th. Yet she answered the call and again, provided the sort of coverage of this story that we count on public radio to provide.

Two quick sidebars: I could offer dozens of similar anecdotes about the work of NPR correspondents. You should know at any time NPR correspondents are free to refuse an assignment based on concerns for safety.

Recognizing the dangers faced by its foreign correspondents, not only in the field but at their homes and offices, NPR included in this year’s budget security consultants, who will visit reporters around the world to help ensure their safety.

As you tune to our international coverage later today, please remember that NPR foreign correspondents are dedicated to making sure you and I are informed about our world. And please know they gratefully acknowledge that individual member support makes their work possible and helps to keep them safe.

Warm Regards,

President & CEO

P.S. As always we encourage you to give us your thoughts about our news coverage or any of our programming either in the comments section below or at comment@kunc.org