Thursday, July 17, 2008

NPR's Mixed - Very Mixed - Grille

I was so pleased with Philip Reeves' nice little unpretentious portrait of New Mumbai on Morning Edition that I sent NPR a cheerful compliment. But you know what? Even though I was indirectly flattering them, they still only responded with their generic reply to hate mail. Go figure! I guess NPR's too lofty to even acknowledge fan mail that is positive but not quite fawning. But come to think of it, maybe they didn't fancy the bit about Inskreep.

(Message follows)

"I'd like to enthusiastically praise Philip Reeves' portrait of Navi (New) Mumbai as intelligent, concise and edifying. In just a few minutes, Reeves succeeded in capturing gigantic concepts with objectivity, balance and pictorial flair. I have not been to Mumbai in some time, but Reeves' economic and substantive coverage brought it all back with quality and style.

In contrast, Steve Inskeep's 'examination' of Karachi was show-offy, belabored, and dare I say, dim-witted.

Thank you for assigning this story to Mr. Reeves. It is refreshing to have someone who really understands South Asia to be covering the region for NPR."

(End Message)

In BIG contrast to Reeves, or even Inskreep, is, well, Gwen Thompkins. I know, I know, I pick on her quite a bit, but this morning I heard the next city to get an NPR invasion was to be Khartoum. 'Oh no,' I thought, 'I hope Gwennie's not there.' Sure enough, she was. I won't dissect that flea-like story with a hatchet, but I have to say, her strenuous efforts to Americanize Africa for delicate NPR listeners are nothing short of offensive. This time she had the bright idea of likening Khartoum to something out of the sitcom 'Green Acres', and it went downhill from there. The people she interviewed were credible enough, but like Inskreep in Karachi, it's her packaging that squanders and strangles any sort of decent journalism out of these pieces. And then she speaks at us with exaggerated affectation as if we're in a kindergarten class and President Bush is there reading a picture book upside down.


And finally, Jamie Tarabay's back! Unfortunately, the DC-region air seems to magnify the effect of her speaking: as if she has a mouthful of unswallowed gummy bears, which mangles all aspects of an Aussie accent. Difficult, so difficult to listen to.

One of the many tedious nut and bolt chores of dealing with Enn Pee ARRRRGH!!!


I humbly offer this retread of a critical mess I made a few weeks ago, (see "Spying Out The Land: NPR Scouts Potential Markets and Opportunities For Their Corporate Masters, And With US Taxpayer Money", below) as a response to Inskreep of Karachi's strolls through that city:

"Now, if Philip Reeves were doing this series (and he has done many fine reports in similar environments), I daresay, we'd be getting a more essential picture of what the series is trying to accomplish. But it wouldn't be juiced up enough or sexed up enough, or sensational enough, plus, it wouldn't lack the perspectives that Inscreep can't even pick up on, because he's so busy motormouthing that he can't be anything but the most superficial of reporters. So Phil, be glad you didn't get slapped with this assignment. Let Inscreep do his dance so we can put it all behind us and move on. Fortunately, much of radio is pretty forgettable, and it slides into obscurity pretty fast."

Wow, you think they took my advice and sent Philip to Bombay? You think NPR might grudgingly consult my very own blog and then appropriate its fabulous ideas?

Note: Many Bombayites still say 'Bombay'. The renaming to 'Mumbai' was largely a regional (Maratha) gesture in order to show cultural independence from New Delhi. It was political, but not so much political correctness. I digress...

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