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Revenue Decline Forces Cuts At NPR

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And public radio is being hit by the recession. Yesterday NPR News announced that it is canceling two shows and laying off seven percent of the workforce. This is due, in part, to a sharp drop in corporate underwriting. NPR's David Folkenflik has more.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Top NPR officials said they had to make the cutbacks, dropping 64 employees from a staff of 889 in order to help close a budget gap of $23 million. The daily programs News & Notes and Day to Day will end in March. Twenty-one other empty positions will be eliminated. Pointed questions flew at a staff meeting in Washington. Victoria O'Hara, a 26-year veteran who has held a variety of senior editing and reporting jobs, was among those laid off Wednesday.

VICTORIA O'HARA: There were lots of indicators that the economy was in trouble. This is a donor-funded organization. So how can you sit here and tell us that the people who run the company are not at all culpable for what's happened?

FOLKENFLIK: Back in summer, the company predicted a deficit of just $2 million for this fiscal year. Interim CEO and President Dennis Haarsager said that was before the economy and the financial markets collapsed.

Mr. DENNIS HAARSAGER (Interim CEO and President, NPR News): I wish I had a better view of what it was that we ended up with, but both us and virtually every other company in the media have gone through similar experiences in the last year.

FOLKENFLIK: Other news organizations have actually gone through far worse cuts, and a core of roughly 300 NPR journalists will remain. But a dozen prominent figures were among those who lost their jobs, including Farai Chideya, Ketzel Levine [and] Kim Masters. David Folkenflik, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.