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For immediate release
June 16, 2004
Jessamyn Sarmiento : 202-513-2307
Jenny Lawhorn : 202-513-2754

NPR to Invest Additional $15 Million in NPR News


WASHINGTON - NPR today announced a major expansion of its news operation, investing $15 million over the next three years to add reporters, editors, producers and managers, and to open new domestic and international bureaus. The expansion plan, which covers 2004 through 2007, will be funded in part by interest from approximately $225 million in bequests NPR received from the late philanthropist Joan B. Kroc. (Mrs. Kroc designated more than $190 million of these bequests for a restricted, permanent endowment.)

This unprecedented investment and expansion in NPR News is unique in the current media climate, as news media organizations continue a pattern of retrenchment, eliminating staff, bureaus and resources to increase profits. (See State of the News Media 2004).

"This investment will expand NPR's capacity to bring in-depth and top-quality reporting to its growing audience, at a time when other news organizations are retreating from the presentation of serious and thoughtful content," said Kevin Klose, NPR's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our goal is to serve our stations and their listeners with expanded in-depth reports from around the country and the world. We recognize that in this era, Americans seek reliable fact-based journalism that is up-to-the-minute and provides deep context and detail."

NPR has experienced rapid audience growth in the last decade, from 11.5 million weekly listeners in 1994 to nearly 22 million in 2004, and has added 20 hours of additional news programming a week, plus special coverage of elections, debates, breaking news and significant national and foreign events, such as the war in Iraq.

This year, NPR plans to add about $4 million in spending to NPR News, with similar commitments to follow in the next three years. Most of the funds will derive from the Kroc bequests.

NPR News has begun implementing a three-year expansion plan with these primary goals:

Staff: NPR News will hire 45 additional reporters, editors and producers over the next three years, a 15 percent increase in overall NPR News staff. Research, travel and similar additional resources will be brought to existing news beats to improve coverage of breaking news and develop deeper investigative reporting.

Newsmagazines: NPR will expand staff for its leading newsmagazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered, currently the second and third most listened-to programs in U.S. radio, and its new midday news program Day to Day. These new positions will enhance Morning Edition's ability to broadcast from both coasts and permit hosts the opportunity to do more reporting and in-depth work.

News Management: NPR will add management and editorial structure to oversee long-term coverage. In May, NPR added a second managing editor to its staff, hiring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Marimow, former editor of The Baltimore Sun, to oversee national and investigative news.

International Coverage: NPR currently operates 14 foreign bureaus with an additional three international roving correspondents. New bureaus will be added in the next two years, with priority to expand coverage of such under-reported places as Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Local News: NPR will partner with its member stations on initiatives to enhance and expand in-depth local news, a critically important need for millions of Americans that is increasingly ignored by many other broadcasters.

Kroc Fellowships: NPR will establish a radio and internet news training program that will enable young people to train and work at both NPR and local public radio stations for up to a year. The fellowships will broaden and diversify staff and develop future staff and talent for public radio.

"Mrs. Kroc's gift gives NPR a keel that secures our future by allowing us to think and act to build a stronger NPR in the years ahead," said Klose. "Although Mrs. Kroc made the gift without any requirements as to management decisions and with no instructions for use of funds generated by the endowment, we are certain we are putting Mrs. Kroc's bequest to work in the best possible way - by investing in the news coverage that she found so essential and compelling. We have always been a lean news group that does more with less. We now will be able to do better with more. That means, among other things, having the flexibility to cover and provide context for what's in the news now while we're uncovering the people, places and ideas that are emerging in the news."

In May, Mrs. Kroc's bequest was placed in the NPR Endowment Fund for Excellence, bringing total endowment gifts and pledges to $225 million, and in the operating reserves for NPR Inc, bringing that amount to $50 million. In addition, in fiscal year 2005, NPR has committed $2.4 million of the interest on these investments toward ameliorating program fee increases for the majority of its member stations.

Joan B. Kroc, who was nationally recognized for her philanthropy, died of cancer Oct. 12, 2003 at age 75. She was the widow of Ray A. Kroc, the founder of McDonald's Corp.

Founded in 1970 with 90 member stations, NPR has grown to a primary source of news, information and cultural expression for nearly 22 million listeners a week via more than 770 public radio stations. NPR's audience has doubled in the last ten years as it added new member stations and new programs. Accordingly, NPR's annual budget has grown: it cost $36.1 million to operate NPR in 1994, while NPR's budget for the present fiscal year is approximately $106 million, of which $42 million will be directed to operate NPR News. (From 2004 to 2007, the annual operating funds for NPR News will increase by more than $13 million.) NPR's annual operating expenses are separate from those of its member stations, which are independently licensed and serve local audiences.

About NPR
NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of more than 22 million Americans each week via more than 770 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, offers hourly newscasts, special features and seven years of archived audio and information.