NPR Senior Editor Uri Berliner Resigns Amid Suspension for Op-Ed

NPR senior business editor Uri Berliner, who publicly criticized the organization for progressive biases in an op-ed last week, resigned from his role Wednesday amid a five-day suspension which started last week.

Berliner posted an excerpt from his resignation letter to NPR CEO and president Katherine Maher on social media in which he said, “I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay.”

Berliner acknowledged the 25 years he spent with the organization adding that he doesn’t “support calls to defund NPR,” which have been re-ignited in right-wing circles since his op-ed was published.

“I respect the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism,” Berliner continued.

On Tuesday, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik reported that Berliner has been suspended for five days without pay since last Friday. Part of the reason for Berliner’s suspension is that he failed to secure approval to publish in another news outlet. The suspension was categorized as a “final warning,” for Berliner.

Berliner also did not reach out to NPR to comment prior to publishing – however, he did note that he attempted to bring his concerns to leadership on multiple occasions.

Berliner’s Free Press essay has created a massive headache for NPR leaders, whose internal struggles have been publicly picked apart in the aftermath. Additionally, many staffers were furious with the situation, with several refusing to work with Berliner if he returned to the outlet following his suspension.

When reached for a response on the senior editor’s resignation and suspension, NPR spokeswoman Danielle Wilson said that the organization does not comment on personnel matters.

In response to Berliner’s scathing op-ed, which claimed that the organization lacked “viewpoint diversity,” NPR leadership launched a multi-level review process, with the goal of understanding their audience and the general public better.

NPR will implement quarterly network-wide editorial planning and review meetings, which will serve as a “venue for NPR newsroom leadership to hear directly from Member organization editorial leaders on how our journalism serves the needs of audiences in their communities.”

In a recent interview, Berliner told Folkenflik that the leader that NPR needs right now must be “unifying,” but that “this seems to be the opposite of that.

Maher, in her response to Berliner’s essay on Friday, noted that while she welcomes questions about whether the organization is properly serving its audience, “Questioning whether our people are serving our mission with integrity, based on little more than the recognition of their identity, is profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.”

“It is deeply simplistic to assert that the diversity of America can be reduced to any particular set of beliefs, and faulty reasoning to infer that identity is determinative of one’s thoughts or political leanings,” Maher wrote, referencing Berliner’s argument that the organization lacks balance in employing staff with varied political viewpoints.

On Thursday, four days after his original essay, Berliner told the New York Times that he had not been punished, and that the only formal action NPR had taken was to remind him that NPR policy requires employees to get approval before speaking to or writing for other media outlets. Berliner also said that he hadn’t done so before talking to the New York Times. He received his five-day suspension the next day.

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