Maybe even worse, Ms. Cooper remarked early on that she’d by no means heard of Brian Lehrer, the beloved WNYC morning host whose gently probing, public-spirited interviews embody the station’s enchantment, and that she didn’t “get” why he was fashionable. She has since come to the view that “Brian is the soul of the station and, in some ways, the town itself,” a WNYC spokeswoman, Jennifer Houlihan Roussel, mentioned in an e mail.
In actual fact, Ms. Cooper’s mission was to jump-start the station’s lagging digital transformation, one thing she had accomplished with uncommon success in San Francisco and that requires a willingness to make enemies. She has bold plans to rent 15 to 20 extra reporters — however first she had the near-impossible project of bringing collectively a bunch of conventional radio journalists, used to working for days and sometimes weeks on colourful native options, with the reporters at Gothamist, the scrappy native weblog that WNYC bailed out in 2018. Ms. Cooper sought to professionalize Gothamist away from its bloggy and irreverent roots, telling reporters to be much less overtly hostile to the New York Police Division of their reporting, two reporters mentioned. Ms. Roussel steered that Ms. Cooper was attempting to rein in Gothamist’s tendency behavior of including “a component of editorializing to its protection that may be interpreted as bias.”
And Ms. Cooper began pushing the radio journalists to choose up their tempo and to file tales for the net. That appeared like an inexpensive request, however it led to a different stumble in early February, when an 18-year veteran of the radio aspect, Fred Mogul, filed a narrative with one paragraph printed in a distinct font. The editor realized it was Related Press copy; Ms. Cooper promptly fired Mr. Mogul (who declined by his union to be interviewed) for plagiarism and not using a evaluation of whether or not he’d ever accomplished it earlier than.
Ms. Cooper declined to talk to me about Mr. Mogul’s termination. However one factor I discovered this week about public radio is that it doesn’t matter what is occurring, somebody is all the time recording it. And that was true when Ms. Cooper known as a digital assembly Feb. 5 over Zoom to tell the complete newsroom of her choice to fireplace Mr. Mogul. Based on a duplicate of the recording supplied to me by an attendee, Ms. Cooper advised the staffers, “It’s completely OK to be unhappy.” However then a number of shocked radio reporters questioned the transfer, explaining that they frequently included A.P. copy into tales on air and had imported the follow to WNYC’s little-read web site, crediting The A.P. on the backside of the story.
“Go by each single considered one of our articles and fireplace all of us, as a result of that’s precisely what we’ve all accomplished,” one host, Rebecca Ibarra, advised her.
On Feb. 10, greater than 60 staff — together with Mr. Lehrer — signed a letter asking Ms. Cooper to rethink and calling the firing a “troubling precedent.”