NPR is still having a trouble with e-mail. It doesn’t want to give out its journalists’ addresses.
I know. So last century. My kids don’t even DO e-mail, and haven’t for many years, because it’s so slow and indirect and retro. Or something (I confess I don’t fully understand the problem). It’s as though a film studio were still debating whether to take the plunge into VHS.
Don’t know about you, but a pet peeve of mine is going to anyone’s Web page — a business, a nonprofit, any kind of organization or even a personal endeavor such as a blog — and looking for a way to contact the key individuals, only to hit a wall. No e-mail address. Not even a phone number (for those just a step past smoke signals).
I’m not the only one this bugs. In fact, one of our neighbors right here in Colatown made it into an essay on the subject:
NPR does not publish staff email addresses.
About once a month someone writes to say they find it arrogant and standoffish for a news organization —that demands access to others — to not offer a common form of communication to its audience.
And it’s not always that a listener wants an email address to write a nasty note.
Sometimes they want to share information. Sometimes they want to ask a question, or even provide information to correct an error. Sometimes, they simply want to say “Nice job” directly to a reporter.
“Today I just wanted to tell the ‘A Blog Supreme’ producers-writers how important the blog has been to me,” wrote George Mack, of Columbia, SC., a listener for 20 years.
“However, there is no way to contact them except to post a public comment or to come to a black hole dialog box like the one I’m using this very moment,” he continued. “I’ve always thought this stand-offish concept was just plain arrogant and it gives rise to negative feelings.”
Right now if someone wants to get in touch with NPR via e-mail, they have to go to the “Contact Us” link and fill out a form. It will go to a news show, my office or an office called “listener services.”…
Amen to that, brother. I hate those forms. Whenever I click “contact us” and get a form to fill out, instead of an actual person’s e-mail address, I feel like the message is “Bug off.” Only with a different word in place of “Bug.” Even if that’s not intended, that’s what I receive.
Yes, I know e-mail is a hassle. It consumes too much time, and if you’re a reporter with a national medium, the flood will be Noahesque. But hey, figure out something. If that impersonal box “works” for managing the flood, it’s only because it discourages people from trying to make contact at all, thus reducing the volume.
Nowadays, public radio doesn’t need to be ticking off the listening, voting public. NPR shows great resourcefulness, thoughtfulness and creativity in presenting the news. Apply some of that to basic communcations, please.
And oh, yes. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’ll get to it as soon as I can (usually same day). And there’s just me.