NPR News Agenda From the Thursday Editors' Meeting

Every so often, we here at Mixed Signals like to pull back the curtain (just a tiny bit!) and take a look at how NPR makes radio. So here's a behind-the-scenes peek at how some of the smartest minds in journalism noodle over a story idea.

At this morning's meeting, NPR's Managing Editor Barbara Rehm asked if there was a story to be told about the people who run the oil companies... the ones who have led their companies to astronomical profits — profits that are now at the center of the political hurricane over gas prices. Barbara's question sparked the following discussion:

"Could we get Lee Raymond?" (He's the retired Exxon executive whose $140,000-a-day retirement package has caused outrage.)

"It would be interesting to know who [the CEOs] are, how they came up in their companies... "

"It's not Enron... They're doing exactly what they're supposed to do: making lots of money for their shareholders. But they're making something that the public and politicians want to treat as if it was a government utility."

"They're not corporate superstars like software executives who create a new product. You could switch the oil CEOs and they'd still make money. It's supply and demand."

"But what's the multiple between them and the guy who works 10 floors down?"

"That's a separate issue. Even if [the CEOs] took one penny in pay, the price at the pump still wouldn't change."

"Isn't the question what they're doing with the profits? Refining capacity is so low. How much of the profits gets put back into research and exploration?"

"Now that we've gone around the room it sounds like we should have a profile or a series of profiles."

So there you have it... how a story idea gets hatched, Stay tuned and you'll hear it — all grown up on the air.

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