June 24, 2013

I was intrigued, and somewhat disheartened, by the June 22 Style article “Broadcasting their discontent,” on the fuss raised by critics of NPR about its new building.

I am not surprised by the carping from the Drudge Report and other right-wing outlets, but I would think that Jim Farley, a vice president of the respected (and profitable) news station WTOP, would know better than to join them. As the story makes clear, NPR paid for the new building with proceeds from the sale of its old building, from donations and from tax-free bonds; and NPR needed the new building to keep up with its responsibilities to the American public. 

NPR and its affiliates provide the American people with superior radio journalism and entertainment. Instead of fulminating, they report news and analysis without slanting or short-changing it — just as the better papers, including The Post, do. NPR reporters cover difficult and interesting places and events all over the world; most radio, television and print media don’t do that. NPR does not traffic in blather, noise or coarseness. Instead, it is one of just a few institutions connecting us as citizens rather than as shoppers, complainers or exploiters. 

Some people just don’t like the public sector. I continue to find that strange in a nation defined by the ties between the government and the people. If a national institution builds a nice building in the nation’s capital to continue its first-rate services, we ought to applaud.

Charles H. Ellis III, Washington

WTOP’s claims about NPR’s new offices smack of “building envy,” which is strange, given that WTOP brags every few minutes on the radio about transmitting “from the glass-enclosed nerve center.” And if we apply the same tortured logic to WTOP’s finances as we do to NPR’s, don’t taxpayers indirectly underwrite WTOP? After all, government contractors buy advertising on WTOP to run their commercials. Perhaps people in glass-enclosed nerve centers shouldn’t throw stones.

Brian Ecker, Crownsville