October 31, 2013

NPR in September announced that it would be offering voluntary buyout plans to reduce future staffing levels by 10 percent. The plans come with a bit of red tape, as employees with three years’ of continuous employment at NPR who volunteer have to accept the offer and be approved.

That’s where 42-year-old Andy Carvin comes in. He’s a senior strategist at NPR’s social media desk, and something of a phenomenon — though don’t call him a “guru” — in the world of online journalism. From a famous clash with Guardian columnist Michael Wolff over the integrity of Carvin’s Newtown tweeting to this Reddit AMA and beyond, Carvin has managed to get his name into the discussion.

Never with more cleverness than today, however. “Confirmed: NPR has offered me a buyout,” writes Carvin on his blog. The post makes clear that Carvin volunteered for the buyout and was accepted. Now it is decision time: “I’ve got until early December to accept the buyout or change my mind. If I change my mind, I’ll stay as senior strategist at NPR’s social media desk. If I accept the buyout, my job at NPR is expected to wrap up at the end of December.”

Carvin writes, “What will I do after that?” In government-contracting terms, that’s like an RFP — a request for proposals. In human resources terms, it’s like an Andy Carvin open-enrollment period. Submit your bids now, in other words, to hire Andy Carvin.

Buyouts aren’t new to the news industry. The Post, for example, has cycled through a bunch of them dating back about a decade. Yet, here’s a question: Has anyone so brilliantly and nakedly leveraged such an opportunity?

Carvin, who has worked at NPR for seven years, says that his post wasn’t modeled after the work of some previous buyout offeree.

When informed of the Erik Wemple Blog’s somewhat cynical take on the posting, Carvin issued a reply consistent with the spirit of social media: “That’s understandable, but I’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible with the people I know and care about and staying quiet for much longer would have been disingenuous of me,” he says.

He’s already gotten a “few” knocks on the door since his posting.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.