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NPR Promotes Two Executives To Key Posts

Kinsey Wilson, NPR's executive vice president and chief content officer.
Stephen Voss
Kinsey Wilson, NPR's executive vice president and chief content officer.

Slightly more than one year after a series of controversial events led to top leaders' depatures, NPR this morning announced "a new executive structure" and named two current managers to key posts.

NPR President and CEO Gary Knell said that:

-- Kinsey Wilson, an NPR senior vice president and general manager of NPR Digital Media, is stepping up to be executive vice president and chief content officer. Wilson joined NPR in 2008. He came to the organization from USA Today, where he was an executive editor.

Margaret Low Smith, NPR News' senior vice president.
Stephen Voss / NPR
Margaret Low Smith, NPR News' senior vice president.

-- Margaret Low Smith is assuming the role of senior vice president for news on a permanent basis. She had been acting senior vice president for the past year. Smith began her career with NPR in 1982. She will report to Wilson.

Knell tells NPR's David Folkenflik that the goal of the management structure is to create "a unified and strategic approach" to providing news, cultural programming and other content across radio, online and mobile platforms. And "combining all this under a chief content officer [Wilson] who will be able to connect the dots in radio and in digital and in the Web — and in all the mobile applications where NPR finds its content — is exactly where we need to be."

"Radio is not going away, radio is going everywhere," Knell added.

Of Smith, Knell said that "she's earned it" after serving as acting senior vice president. "I'm fully confident that she's going to get this thing right," he said.

As David reports for our Newscast Desk, today's announcements represent Knell's first major moves since he took office in December.

The CEO came to NPR after a search for a successor to Vivian Schiller, who left in March 2011. She departed, as we've previously reported, following:

— The release in March 2011 of a videotape surreptitiously made by associates of conservative activist James O'Keefe and heavily edited before its release, showing then-NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) slamming conservatives and appearing to question whether NPR needs federal funding.

— The dismissal in November 2010 of NPR analyst Juan Williams after he said on Fox News Channel that he gets nervous when he sees people in "Muslim garb" on airplanes. Williams went on to say it's wrong to profile or stereotype anyone based on his or her appearance, but NPR said it was one of a series of comments he had made that violated the network's standards. The handling of his dismissal and the controversy surrounding it — including comments Schiller made about Williams that she later apologized for — made headlines for several weeks. That controversy also led to the resignation of NPR's top news executive at the time, Ellen Weiss.

The controversies fueled calls by some in Congress to cut funding to NPR.

Also today, NPR says, Knell announced "an expanded role for Keith Woods, Vice President of Diversity in News & Operations. Woods will broaden his collaborative work with member stations to support public radio's push for greater diversity in its audience, staffing and content."

Update at 2 p.m. ET. The Statement And A New Ethics Handbook:

NPR has posted its statement about the appointments here. It also notes that "Eric Nuzum, who has served as acting vice president for programming since January 2011, will officially move into that role."

Also today, the organization released its new "guiding principles" and ethics handbook. Full disclosure: this blogger helped put them together. For an outside review of them, you might start with this piece by Poynter's Mallary Jean Tenore.

Mark Stencel, NPR's managing editor for digital news, discusses the guidelines on social media here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.