It is a persistent complaint among listeners: NPR has a regional bias, and it favors the East and West coasts. - NPR Ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos
You know it and I know it. Our news media doesn't have its priorities straight.
The cable news networks have 24 hours to fill every day - how is it possible that they all cover the same four stories over and over? When there’s a drought in Texas, a battle over bus discrimination in Ohio, and software innovation in Phoenix, why would they cover Miley Cyrus’ appearance on Saturday Night Live as a news story?
National reporters only seem to visit middle America when it's a presidential election year, there’s severe weather or a terrible crime.
You can be part of the solution to the problem. We need you to do two things: donate and then share this page with your friends.
WHY IT’S URGENTLY NEEDED:
We all have a sense that most national coverage focuses on L.A., D.C., and New York, and the statistics bear that out. In a recent survey of stories on NPR between 2006 and 2011, New York had 331 stories per year, Oklahoma had 14. You could say that’s because of population size, but even with its large size and population, Texas got less than half the national average of stories.
There was a presidential election in 2008, so states like Ohio and Iowa got special attention. If you take presidential politics out of the mix, the numbers are stark: the middle of the country doesn't get the coverage it deserves.
This is more than a show. This is the beginning of a revolution in news coverage.
WHY WE NEED YOUR DONATION:
We’re doing something that the big networks won’t. In order to do that, we need to launch this show independently, outside of the network system. If we want to maintain editorial control and stick to our core principles (stories only from middle America, partnerships with local stations), then we need to remain independent.
And that means we need your donation.
Listen to the pilots:
DONORS OUTSIDE THE US:
If you don't live in the US of A (like our Canadian brethren), then you can donate and choose "No reward." Because of shipping, it won't let you donate otherwise. However! I will still send you your reward. Just include a message with your donation and I'll make sure your thank you gift reaches you, no matter where you are.
WHY WE CAN DO THIS BETTER THAN ANYONE:
Celeste Headlee spent years reporting from Flagstaff, Arizona and then Detroit, Michigan before she became a national host on NPR and PRI. She knows from personal experience how hard it is to get stories from Middle America on the national shows and she’s heard the terrible coverage that results from sending D.C. reporters parachuting into a city to cover a story. Many people in this business automatically assume that stories from New York and L.A. are more important; Celeste does not.
WHAT WE NEED:
A basic studio setup with a mic, mixer, Telos unit for recording phone calls, acoustic foam for the walls and audio editing software. Those are all one-time investments. But we also need funds to pay local reporters for their stories, to pay commentators, and to pay local stations for studio time.
WHAT WE WILL DO:
Publish weekly updates for local stations to drop into existing programming. We will partner closely with stations in Middle America, give their reporters a platform and bring attention to the news of their communities.
We’ll also publish longer podcasts regularly with the news, politics and culture of Middle America, bringing you the stories that national networks ignore and helping you understand the nation in a way you never have before.
We will bring your countrymen and women a little closer, let you get to know the people that make this nation unique. This part is guaranteed.
AND we will choose a home station for the show, a headquarters somewhere in the middle of the country. We will move our operations to that local public radio station and find a national distributor. This is the part we can’t guarantee, but there’s a lot of interest already from both stations and distributors. We just need a boost from you to get it off the ground.
It all starts with your donation.
Risks and challenges
The risk is very low. If we meet our Kickstarter goal, there will be shows and podcasts for you to enjoy available at both PRX and our website. The Kickstarter funds will cover at least three months of programming. More if we can really pinch our pennies.
Our pilots were produced in Detroit. But several of our team members, including Celeste, currently live in DC. They are all itching to move to a city in the middle of the country... a lovely place in Wisconsin or Michigan, or Ohio or Missouri or Texas... to create a permanent home for the show. Until that happens, we are scattered in various places.
Above, plus the extended, uncut interviews from our pilot shows. Including more than 40 minutes with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, bloopers with Ken Rudin, the unedited conversation with Mr. Midwest, Mike Draper.
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL - Only available before November 5th. All of the above, plus a 30 minute mentoring conversation by phone with Celeste Headlee, covering news, writing, business or just about anything else you want to talk about.
All of the above (except the Early Bird special) plus a 30-minute mentoring conversation with veteran producer Sue Goodwin or editor Jacob Conrad. Both award-winners, both with decades of experience at National Public Radio.
A 30-minute mentoring conversation by phone with Celeste Headlee, covering news, writing, business or just about anything else you want to talk about. Plus a signed copy of Midwest: God's Gift to Planet Earth:
Your custom 140-word message will be read by Celeste on the air during a podcast. Say happy birthday, happy anniversary, or whatever else you like as long as it's not an advertisement. Good for one year, dates to be worked out individually. We'll also send you a CD copy of the message.
CUSTOM PACKAGE - For schools, companies, organizations or individuals, this package can be designed to fit your needs. Can include a personal visit from Celeste or another member of the team, with training in broadcasting, writing, etc. Or Celeste can MC your event or lead your panel discussion. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this reward