Mississippi Burning

There’s quite a storm brewing in Mississippi over the cancellation of “Fresh Air” on the local public radio station. Seems some folks thought the content inappropriate and station management acted. Check out the Facebook site, where the comments are hot and heavy. A site protesting MPB (here), entitled “I’m Banning Myself from Mississippi Public Radio,” has sprouted with 300 “friends” in its IPO.

On the blog Current: Public Media, this post reports that a reporter from MPR has been fired for leaking news of the cancellation:

Carl Gibson, whose first job out of journalism school was covering the state capitol for MPB, was fired on Friday for leaking an internal memo about the state network’s decision to drop the NPR-distributed show. Gibson was just returning from an assignment covering the Gulf Coast oil spill, he said, when controversy over MPB’s cancellation erupted over the blogosphere on July 15. Friends at the Jackson Free Press, the state’s only alternative newspaper, approached Gibson as a source, and he wanted to help them get the story straight, he told Current.

The Free Press’s July 16 story points to the discrepancy between MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis’s official statement describing the “careful consideration and review” given to the decision to drop Fresh Air and the email that Gibson leaked, which was written by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell shortly after the axe came down. Farrell notified MPB staff July 8 that the show was being dropped immediately “due to content issues with the program”…

A rousing exchange of comments follows the post — well worth the read. In just the space of a few days, this story has gone completely viral, with this post on Rachel Maddow’s blog drawing more than 100 comments and this one on the Huffington Post drawing 350. Stay tuned while MPB gets beat soundly about the head and neck. Public radio PDs are becoming spooked with the aforementioned decade-long decline in NPR fortunes, and they’re jumping at shadows — or worse, funky Arbitron numbers.


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