NPR’s New CEO Questions Free Model’s Role in Exclusion

NPR's New CEO Questions Free Model's Role in Exclusion

Katherine Maher, the recently appointed chief executive of National Public Radio, has stirred controversy by criticizing the ‘free and open’ approach in her previous role leading Wikipedia. Maher argued that this model, which she considered a ‘white male Westernized construct,’ inadvertently marginalized certain communities and languages.

These revelations surfaced following a scathing essay by former NPR journalist Uri Berliner, who accused the network of pervasive liberal bias. Maher’s remarks on the problematic nature of Wikipedia’s ethos were unveiled in a video shared by Christopher Rufo, a researcher at the Manhattan Institute.

Berliner, a longtime NPR figure, resigned, pointing fingers at Maher for allegedly undermining him and propagating divisive views that reinforced the issues he raised in his critical essay. Maher’s stance against the ‘free and open’ concept aligned with her belief that these principles mirrored offline power dynamics and excluded marginalized groups.

In her interview referenced by Rufo, Maher highlighted that the notion of ‘free and open’ unintentionally led to the exclusion of communities and languages that lacked a written tradition. She contended that determining ‘notability’ based on a ‘white male Westernized construct’ perpetuated societal hierarchies.

Elon Musk challenged Maher’s assertions, stating that promoting openness was the essence of Wikipedia. However, Larry Sanger, Wikipedia’s co-founder, expressed distrust in the site, attributing its left-leaning bias to volunteer editors censoring divergent content.

Despite Maher’s efforts to combat misinformation, particularly during the 2020 election, her views on the challenges posed by the First Amendment have drawn scrutiny. She emphasized the difficulty of censoring ‘bad information’ and influential propagators due to constitutional speech protections.

As NPR faces heightened scrutiny following Berliner’s exposé on liberal bias, Maher’s suspension of the journalist and her vocal social media support for Joe Biden have ignited further debate. Maher’s controversial stance on openness and information dissemination has raised questions about the future direction of National Public Radio under her leadership.

The Post’s attempts to gather responses from Maher, NPR, and Wikimedia Foundation remain ongoing amidst the unfolding developments and reactions within the media landscape.


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