National Public Radio (NPR) is an American media organization which produces news and cultural programming for syndication all over the United States. NPR member stations pay a fee to access NPR content for rebroadcasting, picking from an array of options which they think will appeal to local listeners. The organization has been recognized with numerous awards both for its broadcast journalism and cultural programming, and with hundreds of local stations, NPR can be heard in most corners of the United States.
NPR is a non-profit organization, with funding from several sources. The subscription fees from member stations form a substantial chunk of the operating budget, as do funds from pledge drives, in which member stations appeal to their listeners for funds. NPR also has underwriting spots in its programming, and benefits from grant money and federal funds authorized by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
The organization was founded in 1970 with the express goal of “creating a more informed public” by offering a range of programming for Americans to listen to. Morning Edition and All Things Considered are probably NPR's most well-known programs, although NPR also produces shows like Weekend Edition, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, Day to Day, and Science Friday. NPR also distributes Car Talk, Fresh Air, and On Point, among an assortment of other programs, and it has special coverage during events of national interest, such as elections and natural disasters.
For small local radio stations, NPR can be very useful. It allows a station to broadcast world-class coverage without having to invest in correspondents, and it can attract listeners who actively seek out NPR stations. However, critics have pointed out that National Public Radio is very much a part of the mainstream media, and some local stations try to make up for this by having locally based reporters who cover issues which may be ignored or marginalized by the mainstream media, or by picking up coverage from similar networks like Public Radio International and Democracy Now.
NPR bears the dubious distinction of being simultaneously accused of having a liberal bias and a conservative bias. Critics of National Public Radio can be quite outspoken, and a number of alternate titles have been proposed to fit the acronym, like “National Partisan Radio.” In fact, balanced analysis of NPR coverage seems to suggest that it is a fairly neutral news source, at least when it comes to the news which NPR chooses to report. More accurate criticism could be focused on NPR's tendency to focus on issues which are already well-covered in the rest of the mainstream media.