Koppel to Do Opinion Pieces for NPR, N.Y. Times

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 13, 2006

It may not be punishable by law, but Ted Koppel acknowledged yesterday that "I've been stealing stories from NPR for years."

That may be less necessary after yesterday's announcement that the former ABC newsman is joining National Public Radio as an analyst. Koppel will make 50 appearances a year, on "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Day to Day," either with written commentaries or as a guest to discuss breaking news.

In a separate announcement, the New York Times said Koppel would become a contributor to its op-ed page, writing about 10 columns a year. Both gigs will supplement Koppel's main new job, heading a 10-person documentary unit for Discovery Networks. NPR said it will make available to its member stations audio simulcasts of Koppel's Discovery programs.

Koppel, 65, said he felt more free to offer opinion after leaving ABC News -- although he did a growing number of commentaries on "Nightline" in recent years -- and still remain a reporter. "I still think it's possible to keep those two things separate," he said.

Koppel, who wrote a Times op-ed last fall as a trial run, said his first piece would be about the state of television news, and that it is slow going. "It takes me a whole hell of a lot longer to write a column than to write everything I normally wrote for a half-hour 'Nightline,' but that's only because it's still new and exotic and strange to me," he said.

Asked about his growing commitments, Koppel said his combined workload will still be less than that at "Nightline."

"I know the public perception when I went to three times a week was that I had gone into semi-retirement, but truly, that represented 126 half-hours of television programming every year, which is a lot."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company