CAB MINUTES: JANUARY 2019
GUEST: Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, NJ Public Radio
- Conversation with Nancy Solomon
- Q&A with Nancy Solomon
- Public Comment
- Community Advisory Board Business
PRESENTATION FROM NANCY SOLOMON
Nancy Solomon began her presentation by explaining what NJPR is. Upon taking office in 2009, Gov. Chris Christie sold off the public radio station and leased the television radio station. WHYY bought half of the radio stations and WNYC bought the other half. Solomon was hired to build and manage a news bureau. Under her leadership, the station was focused not just on NJ but the whole metropolitan area. NJPR was then integrated into the New York’s WNYC newsroom. She hired the first crop of reporters, which includes Matt Katz and Terri Langford.
NJPR has a listenership that is about a third of WNYC’s. Its budgeting was folded into the WNYC budget, and with that, the station was moved off the grants into WNYC’s core budget. NJPR content is mostly the same as WNYC, but it diverges in the evenings. Occasionally people call in and ask for dedicated programming for NJ. The Christie Tracker was very popular, and people asked for it to keep going, but as Christie is no longer governor, there’s no justification for it. Currently, local news content is taken and integrated in the NPR national news show. Looking ahead, Solomon would like to have an on-demand podcast because that format makes it so much easier for people to tune-in.
Mid-Term Election Coverage: NJPR followed three activist groups formed post-Trump’s election that helped shed light on various views. Grassroots organizations, mostly run by women, successfully flipped some of the Republican Congressional seats in the mid-term elections. For example, in the 11th district, Democrat Mikey Cheryl entered the race to run against Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen, who then decided to drop out and retire. In the 7th district, Republican Leonard Lance got squeezed because he had never really stood up to the conservatives in his party. Although he held two town halls, which drew crowds of a 1000 or more, it didn’t save him and Democrat Tom Malinowski, beat him. Solomon also covered Senator Bob Menendez. Some of the newly elected NJ officials appeared on NJPR in December. A CAB meeting attendee noted that most news report never say Trump is lying. Solomon explained that the problem with the word “lying” is that it involves intent, and that is hard to prove. While the NYT recently called Trump a liar, journalists must be careful by sticking to the facts and avoid saying things that can be perceived as subjective. The journalist’s job is to inform the public in the most factual way that they can. This situation really has posed a problem; how can people cover a president whose definition of truth is elusive? As shown by the results of the recent NJ mid-term elections, Solomon likes to see people taking the reins of Democracy to find a way forward.
NJPR Governorship: Ask Governor Murphy Show – is a call-in show for NJ residents. Murphy has been described as the most progressive governor in the country, yet Solomon isn’t sure that’s true. Murphy grew up working poor, went to Harvard, and then with his MBA from the Wharton School of Business, made a fortune. He ran on raising the minimum wage to $15/hr., legalizing marijuana, and breaking down incentive tax breaks for businesses. Yet because NJ politics are transactional, Murphy has already gotten into a locked battle with the legislature. He has passed the Equal Pay for Equal Work bill. Now he is engulfed in a campaign scandal where a campaign worker has accused a high-ranking staffer for Governor Murphy of rape. The next airing of “Ask the Governor” will be in February; NJPR is hoping to host this show monthly.
Bridge Gate: Although two defendants were convicted, the case hasn’t been totally wrapped up yet. One defendant accepted a two-year sentence, but Bridgette Kelly appealed. As the mother of four kids she is trying to stay out of prison for as long as possible. There is an unindicted co-conspirator that has never been named, and NJPR sued to get the name. It has yet to be released. Christie will likely never face charges for Bridge Gate. Although prosecutors were involved, none has been disbarred; the NJ bar never pressed charges. Christie turned down the Attorney General and Chief of Staff jobs in the Trump Administration largely due to the repercussions of Bridge Gate.
Big Topic Areas/Issues: Affordability, which can mean a lot of things, i.e. gentrification, rents, affordable housing, gender, race discrimination, transportation, and class. NJPR will often put local reporters on the air if they know the beat well and have covered the issues. Solomon will follow-up on the new women representatives in NJ, though there are other pressing projects and she will not be able to follow them as closely.
Attendee requested more investigative reporting on 5G network’s arrival in NYC, to cover its benefits and concerns about safety issues (i.e., because 5G waves are shorter, but more intense, what are the health implications.)PUBLIC COMMENTS
- A second attendee thought that there needs to be investigative reporting on Verizon’s implementing fiber optics (the 5G vehicle) at the expense of copper wiring, believing Verizon sold NYC a bill of goods re benefits of 5G.
- Complaint from attendee Jill Rapaport about the new All of It program, including not liking host, Allison Stewart (“a light weight compared to Leonard Lopate; she is more like a game show host”) the theme music (“like dance music, so unpleasant”) and the choice of topics. Rapaport said that some shows were good, but most seem like fluff and unimportant. Other attendees agreed that the show is just not serious enough; it is too airy and hip. Rapaport asked for an official response from Listener Services
- Fred Friedland (former CAB member) commented that he did not like WNYC news report slicing in reports from NJ into NPR daily news report. He switches channels to listen to NPR unedited report.
Donna Blank updated the CAB on the status of the Self-Assessment Survey. CAB members requested that an open text box be added to survey for comments and for responder’s name. Any additional recommended changes must be sent to Jake Wojnas or Donna Blank by Dec. 5. The final survey will be emailed to CAB members mid-January with a February 1st completion due date. An informal CAB meeting will take place at 160 Varick on February 13th from 6-7:30p, and the survey results will be discussed there. COMMUNITY BOARD BUSINESS:
A discussion about facilitating a panel on labor unions followed. Comments included noting the history of Gothamist, which NYPR obtained to support local coverage; who from NYPR might be suitable for panel, and various other topics for discussion. Topics included: living wage issues, questions concerning WNYC meeting the needs of organized labor, concerns about the narrative language used to describe labor unions, and freelancing and gig economy issues. The May CAB meeting was suggested for the date of this panel. The other panel discussion centered on a local news panel and will include David Dent, NYU Professor of Journalism, Jane Tillman Irving, CAB member and a well-known broadcast journalism as moderator, a representative from Gothamist or perhaps Daily News. It is likely this panel will occur first.
Miriam Birnbaum noted that she posted The Greene Space December Holiday Performance on the CAB Facebook page and actively engaged listeners streaming during the performance. This has increased the CAB Facebook interactions significantly.
Chair Barba Gerolimatos reported back on exploring to how to achieve better audio for virtual CAB attendees. Unless there are four tech people in The Greene Space, good quality remote listening is not achievable. Unfortunately, the CAB is not able to support the expense of hiring these techs currently.
NEXT MEETING DETAILS:
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Meeting: 6:30 PM, The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, New York (Google map)
CAB MEMBERS (ALPHABETICAL)
Adam Wasserman (excused)
Barbara Gerolimatos, Chair
David N. Sztyk
Erica Johnson, Vice-chair
Jacob Wojnas, Vice-chair (excused)
Julia D. Fields
● 15 members of the public
● Mary White, BOT Liaison
Jane Tillman Irving (excused)
Kathryn Tornelli, Vice-chair
Samantha "Sam" Pedreiro (excused)
italics = not present