June 26, 2013

Charles H. Ellis III and Brian Ecker [“Throwing stones at NPR’s building,” letters, June 25] missed the point I made in the June 22 Style article “Broadcasting their discontent.” NPR just built a luxurious new headquarters that includes a cafe with chefs, a gym with a trainer, a staffed wellness center, plug-ins for electric cars and other perks. Does an organization that well-heeled still need taxpayer money? 

NPR says it needed the new headquarters because it ran out of room in its old building. That’s because it is growing. It is a vibrant enterprise that can afford to do without taxpayer largesse. How much better for NPR’s independence as a news organization if it refused the King’s shilling. The construct that the organization has two piles of money, one to buy its dream home and another with federal dollars that fund operations, is so twisted it would get a small-business owner in big trouble with the IRS.

At a time when newspapers and other news organizations are practicing austerity, and all federal agencies are pinching pennies because of sequestration, it is fair to question the support our competitor, NPR, gets from the federal government.

Jim Farley, Washington

The writer is vice president of news and programming at WTOP.