By Grace Dunn
The 25 of us on this trip have a variety of majors; therefore, certain site visits interested some students more than others, and it was usually easy to predict who would like what. For example, the economics majors were excited about visiting The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the journalism majors really loved The Atlantic. But sometimes, our preconceptions were wrong.
On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to see the inner workings of NPR. And Ryan Mckeever, senior, who is not a journalism major; but is an economics and politics double major, might have been the most excited about the tour. The reason behind the excitement? Ryan respects and gets most of his news from NPR. He stated, “it was cool to see behind the scenes of what I spend so much time listening and learning from.”
Ryan is not wrong when he said we got to see behind the scenes. We walked around on the newsroom floor where we saw Latchmi Singh eating lunch at her desk. But most importantly for Ryan and many others, we got to see the Tiny Desk. It is Bob Boilen’s, All Songs Considered, desk where they have musicians perform mini live concerts. The design of the Tiny Desk is magnificent. There are trinkets surrounding the desk that musicians have left over the years, including a half finished water bottle from Adele.
The NPR tour came at a relevant time in our trip. During the second week we had more discussions about media and its role in politics. Early in the week we visited the Atlantic and spoke with Matt Vasilogambros, and a few journalism students went to the Washington Post. In our class discussions about media we covered a variety of topics. Throughout each visit and our class discussions, there seemed to be a common question, what effect will the new administration have on the media? And the answer we got every time was, “I don’t know.”
There are so many unanswered questions concerning the new administration, it is fitting that the role of media is included with the uncertainty. During and after the election, President Trump has had a contentious relationship with the media. At his most recent press conference, Trump refused to take a question from a CNN reporter because of the Buzzfeed article. He then, in true Donald Trump form, called CNN “fake news.” There are rumors that Trump might move the White House Press Corps out of the West Wing. The Trump administration says it is because the room is not big enough anymore, but a few people we talked to think it is to spite the media. They believe that Trump wants to show them he has the power, and he will use it.
Ryan also doesn’t know how Trump’s Presidency will affect the media, but he is interested in finding out “what kind of stands NPR takes as a news organization, in the context of their mission.” Ryan believes “even though they try to stay neutral, a lot of people critique them for being a little more liberal” which in some cases he can understand. When listening to a discussion about the Betsy DeVos hearings on NPR, Ryan noticed, “everyone was very critical. No one was respecting her side of the story.”
Whether it was seeing Latchmi Singh eat lunch, the data room, the Tiny Desk, or just the gift shop, we all enjoyed the tour of NPR.