Maybe even worse, Ms. Cooper remarked early on that she’d not at all heard of Brian Lehrer, the beloved WNYC morning host whose gently probing, public-spirited interviews embody the station’s enchantment, and that she didn’t “get” why he was modern. She has since come to the view that “Brian is the soul of the station and, in some ways, the town itself,” a WNYC spokeswoman, Jennifer Houlihan Roussel, talked about in an e mail.
In reality, Ms. Cooper’s mission was to jump-start the station’s lagging digital transformation, one factor she had accomplished with unusual success in San Francisco and that requires a willingness to make enemies. She has formidable plans to rent 15 to twenty additional reporters — nevertheless first she had the near-impossible challenge of bringing collectively a gaggle of standard radio journalists, used to working for days and sometimes weeks on vibrant native choices, with the reporters at Gothamist, the scrappy native weblog that WNYC bailed out in 2018. Ms. Cooper sought to professionalize Gothamist away from its bloggy and irreverent roots, telling reporters to be a lot much less overtly hostile to the New York Police Division of their reporting, two reporters talked about. Ms. Roussel urged that Ms. Cooper was making an attempt to rein in Gothamist’s habits of together with “a component of editorializing to its protection that may be interpreted as bias.”
And Ms. Cooper started pushing the radio journalists to decide on up their tempo and to file tales for the web. That appeared like an affordable request, however it led to at least one different stumble in early February, when an 18-year veteran of the radio side, Fred Mogul, filed a story with one paragraph printed in a particular font. The editor realized it was Related Press copy; Ms. Cooper promptly fired Mr. Mogul (who declined via his union to be interviewed) for plagiarism with no overview of whether or not or not he’d ever accomplished it sooner than.
Ms. Cooper declined to converse to me about Mr. Mogul’s termination. However one issue I found this week about public radio is that it doesn’t matter what’s going on, someone is on a regular basis recording it. And that was true when Ms. Cooper known as a digital assembly Feb. 5 over Zoom to tell the total newsroom of her decision to hearth Mr. Mogul. In accordance with a reproduction of the recording provided to me by an attendee, Ms. Cooper knowledgeable the staffers, “It’s completely OK to be unhappy.” However then numerous shocked radio reporters questioned the switch, explaining that they usually included A.P. copy into tales on air and had imported the apply to WNYC’s little-read site, crediting The A.P. on the bottom of the story.
“Go by way of each single one among our articles and fireplace all of us, as a result of that’s precisely what we have now all achieved,” one host, Rebeca Ibarra, knowledgeable her.
On Feb. 10, higher than 60 employees — along with Mr. Lehrer — signed a letter asking Ms. Cooper to rethink and calling the firing a “troubling precedent.”