Not what it used to be (
by Dan Burns
Nov 25, 2019, 7:00 PM

The long, erratic decline of MPR News

I remember when Minnesota Public Radio’s morning e-newsletter was called “Polinaut.” Back then their reporting in general really was a cut above that of corporate-owned “news” media. That is, it was more grounded in objective reporting of facts, and less in false equivalence and other forms of providing conservative spin.

In retrospect, I can’t pin down when things really started to change. If I had to guess it would be 7-8 years ago, when the renamed “Daily Digest,” and the stories it links to, began to quite clearly move in the direction of the aforementioned false equivalence, etc.

Of course I’m cognizant of the fact that as a hard-left progressive there may be some cognitive bias going on with my take. Nobody is immune from that. I can’t point to any kind of scientific study proving that MPR News has moved rightward, because as far as I know no such studies have been done. But I absolutely know that plenty of intelligent, perceptive people at least loosely agree with the above.

I’ve believed that the reason for the shift is grounded in MPR’s desire not to piss off well-to-do, Republican “sustaining members” and so forth (including much bigger donors). But I’ve also figured that’s not all.

Last week there were some big cuts at MPR, many apparently directed at its local news coverage. Bob Collins, who used to work there doing NewsCut, discussed the matter in a Twitter thread. You absolutely have to click and read it all. Here’s a taste:

I still consider some of what MPR News does, especially its reporting on environmental and rural issues in Minnesota, to be a cut above. Moreover, the radio in my pickup stays on MPR Classical at least 95% of the time, even during fundraising drives. I recognize that pining for the good old days is probably pointless. But I’ve been waiting for a long time to get this off my chest.

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