Perhaps 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 many ways, the city itself,” a WNYC spokeswoman, Jennifer Houlihan Roussel, mentioned in an e mail.
In truth, Ms. Cooper’s mission was to jump-start the station’s lagging digital transformation, one thing she had completed with uncommon success in San Francisco and that requires a willingness to make enemies. She has formidable plans to hire 15 to 20 extra reporters — however first she had the near-impossible project of bringing collectively a gaggle of conventional radio journalists, used to working for days and often 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 Department of their reporting, two reporters mentioned. Ms. Roussel urged that Ms. Cooper was attempting to rein in Gothamist’s behavior of including “an element of editorializing to its coverage that can be interpreted as bias.”
And Ms. Cooper began pushing the radio journalists to choose up their tempo and to file tales for the internet. That appeared like an inexpensive request, nevertheless it led to one other stumble in early February, when an 18-year veteran of the radio aspect, Fred Mogul, filed a narrative with one paragraph printed in a special font. The editor realized it was Associated Press copy; Ms. Cooper promptly fired Mr. Mogul (who declined by means of his union to be interviewed) for plagiarism with no overview of whether or not he’d ever completed it earlier than.
Ms. Cooper declined to converse to me about Mr. Mogul’s termination. But one factor I discovered this week about public radio is that it doesn’t matter what is going on, somebody is all the time recording it. And that was true when Ms. Cooper referred to as a digital meeting Feb. 5 over Zoom to inform the full newsroom of her resolution to fireplace Mr. Mogul. According to a duplicate of the recording supplied to me by an attendee, Ms. Cooper informed the staffers, “It’s totally OK to be sad.” But then a number of shocked radio reporters questioned the transfer, explaining that they often included A.P. copy into tales on air and had imported the apply to WNYC’s little-read web site, crediting The A.P. at the backside of the story.
“Go through every single one of our articles and fire all of us, because that is exactly what we have all done,” one host, Rebeca Ibarra, informed her.
On Feb. 10, greater than 60 workers — together with Mr. Lehrer — signed a letter asking Ms. Cooper to rethink and calling the firing a “troubling precedent.”