Dear All Songs Considered,
I could not have been more disturbed by Emily White’s editorial “I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With,” which ran this weekend on NPR’s All Songs Considered blog. In the piece, the ASC intern speaks about how while her “world is music-centric,” she has hardly ever paid for any recorded music, having illegally downloaded or obtained most of the 11,000 songs in her music library. After openly admitting her larceny, she continues on, letting readers know that while she is aware of “the gravity of what file-sharing means to the musicians I love,” she also finds it simply too inconvenient to pay for recordings of the music which she enjoys. If Ms. White wrote an editorial which bragged about stealing 11,000 of anything else – handbags, dresses, or loaves of bread – it would be easy to see how shocking and devoid of ethics her statement is.
NPR often interrupts programming to let listeners know that NPR is listener-funded. People can listen to your product for free, but all of your stations regularly ask listeners to donate. So, what does it say when NPR posts a remorseless story about how paying for the entertainment you enjoy is unimportant? And what does it say about how you are instructing your intern, in what you at NPR do? Interns are supposed to work for free in order to learn, but this editorial is neatly documented evidence Ms. White has failed to learn the most basic of lessons about media and commerce at your company. For this, she deserves to flunk her internship.
Musician David Lowery has penned an insightful and persuasive response to Ms. White which can be seen at website The Trichordist. I certainly hope that NPR will consider having Mr. Lowery on to speak about the important issues he raises in his editorial. Further, I hope NPR will demonstrate in the future what you are doing to educate this intern after this very public fail. If not, I hope the staff at All Songs Considered will not be waiting for Emily to grow up to be someone who donates to public radio. After all, why would she pay when she can listen for free?
Editor In Chief