NYPR Community Advisory Board

Minutes of the meeting of June 22, 2015

The Greene Space



In Attendance – Joyce Lannert, Sue Hornik, Adam Wasserman, Merwin Kinkade, Sarah Lenigan, Ted Schweitzer, Barbara Gerolimatos, Lue Ann Eldar, Renee Cherow-O’Leary, David Sztyk, Gary Brocks, John Bacon, Catherine Arcure, Steve Rapkin, Helen van der Voort


SR called the meeting to order at 6:35 and announced the new term of the CAB will begin on September 8.

JL moved approval of the agenda and TS seconded. All approved.

MK moved to approve the previous minutes with the correction of the spelling of Lue Ann Eldar’s name and SH seconded. All approved


SR introduced Jim Schachter, Vice President for news at WNYC. He had previously been at newspapers in Florida and then moved to the New York Times where among other things he was a Deputy Editor of the Magazine. He moved to WNYC in 2012.


In addition to heading the newsroom which covers local news, he is also responsible for Note to Self, Radio Rookies, and the Brian Lehrer show. He is also involved in the overall planning for political coverage and the election season, and in that capacity is working with The Takeaway which is the “national” face of WNYC.


The approach the Station hopes to take to political coverage is to monitor candidates as they come to the area, create a Christie podcast and figure out how to cover Trump. Clinton is considered local as well as national, and she presents a challenge in that the station does not want to copy what someone else has done – it wants to have distinctive coverage. WNYC “spoons” with NPR coverage. Mr. Schachter floated the idea that would look at five powerful people and describe their relationships with Hillary Clinton. Mr. Schachter asked the audience for their ideas on how to cover her. SH asked that there be more coverage of policy and her record as senator and secretary, rather than her personality. MOP said he was interested in accessibility of candidates. Another MOP liked the recent interview between Mark Maron and Obama and the fact it seemed so open. He wondered whether this would lead to more openness going forward and what that means for policy. Mr. Schachter underlined the challenge that they have getting candidates to open up when they have races to run, vs someone who will never run. AW would like a thorough understanding of what Clinton’s email set up actually was, possibly leading to a conversation about work related email coverage. John Schachter pointed us to podcasts looking at the frightening ways in which our privacy is being invaded. TS asked for more coverage on controversial issues like the Clinton foundation. RCO would be interested in who her advisors would be, as well as a more future oriented view. GB said he didn’t think there was too much coverage and it would be helpful to contrast various issues that are facing candidates. MOP would like more background details on the Greece-default issue, and would like more context about Clinton emails. JL would like information on the impact of issues and the fallout that may occur. What do issues mean in terms of the listeners’ lives? MOP suggested providing perspective. JS explained that the station tries to meet the suggestions above, and they hope that is what distinguishes them. WNYC wonders how to “counter- program” against the horse race of political coverage, and how to go in depth without sounding like “spinach”. The Station tries to focus coverage on people who are left out of the coverage, for example the “flyover states” that conventional wisdom says don’t matter in the general election. It wants to look at the literally disenfranchised voters – as well as young voters who decide not to vote. John Schachter described focusing on 1000 voters in the last election cycle who were registered to vote but hadn’t to see if WNYC could get them to vote, by essentially pestering them non-stop. There was an 11% increase in voting over areas around those 1000. He is thinking about running a contest with KPCC to see which station can increase the vote. JL brought up the fact that so many are registered independents and would like to hear more about the impact of that fact. Mr. Schachter hopes to get a grant for a reporter to Washington who would report on accountability of the tri-state representatives.


John Schachter moved on to discuss the station’s coverage of Health. In mid-September they hope to start a pod-cast reported by Mary Harris. It will be about 3 broad things: frontiers of medical science, pursuit of personal well-being, and the revolution in delivery of health care and its economics. Hearing, listening and understanding will be the focus.  The first topic will be the concept of hearing. He described a segment that will focus on a new drug study for hearing loss that may get FDA approval. SL asked how the station plans to address the segments of that population that may feel threatened by hearing replacement advances. SL explained that they have a segment on just that topic, and they plan to publish the segments and possibly produce videos to be sensitive to this issue. They plan to do a big community project on listening including exercises in listening. MOP said she is very excited about the new programming and suggested adding a review of policy and the impacts that has on patients as well as providers. She also warned against using studies or stories without weighing the consequences of the listeners’ reactions. Mr. Schachter agreed those are important points and cautions. He said they have met with one of the authors of the ACA, a surgeon from Johns Hopkins, and the Chief Medical Officer of the largest healthcare organization in the country. MOP said he liked the published reports and found uses for them, and wondered why there weren’t more available. Mr. Schachter said it was mostly a matter of cost, but also a spoken script doesn’t always read the way it was produced. And the core of the corporate strategy is to get people to listen.