Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Love To Listen To The News

Really, NPR Morning Edition to start the day is wonderful.

Except... I can't listen to it anymore. I have small kids, with big understanding, and listening ears. I stopped listening to NPR the day that Brother-Bug (almost four at the time) overheard a news segment that elaborated on brutal gang-rapes being conducted by soliders somwhere in the world. I rushed to turn off the radio, and I think (I hope) that he wasn't really listening. Before that, I had rushed to the mute button during many a segment - child soldiers, battlefield scenes, and more - that I am not ready to deconstruct for my small children.

Above and beyond what I am comfortable with as a parent, I wonder how these segments impact veterans recently returned, on an emotional hair trigger, negotiating the tricky terrian of PTSD? Or other people who are victims of violence, or just sensitive? Shouldn't we have a choice to turn off the radio if we determine it's not something we want echoing in our heads?

Last week on Fresh Air, Terry Gross warned that some of the details in an interview about the meat industry might be unappetizing. Ira Glass has a disclaimer on This American Life that acknowledges the existance of sex, put there at the request of his producers. Surely if Terry Gross has to tell us that meat farming might be gross, and Ira Glass has to aknowledge the existance of sex before airing a radio episode (which is almost always child-safe), those who produce the news should take a similar initiative and acknowledge the existance of horriffic violence. Not everyone wants to, or should, listen to those segments. NPR should not censor their news coverage. But I should have the option to stop listening if something is too violent or too sexy or too gross for my children or myself.

I would love to re-incorporate the news into my day. I would love to have Brother- and Sister-Bug exposed to some of the events happening in the wide world. But until I feel like I can keep my children's ears safe, I won't have NPR on if they are awake. Some people may think that I am being over-protective, but I think the world is scary enough without learning about child soldiers and gang rape before elementary school.

I have written comments and letters to NPR about this issue, and received no response. More than anything else, it is that lack of response that inspired me to create the attached petiton on Change.org. If anything I have written here makes sense to you, please consdier signing it - if only so that I can start my day with the new coverage that I truly miss listening to.

CLICK HERE to sign my petition and help make NPR's news coverage safe for all listeners. 


  1. Taylor,
    I am so with you on this. I'm frequently turning off the radio in disgust before my little people catch what's going on. The radio station where I do a show airs Democracy Now headlines and they increasingly include more violent live footage like people screaming, crying out in pain or being attacked by police. I also sent an e-mail to them but have heard nothing. What is a parent to do? At least I can sign your petition.
    Hope all else is well in your lives.
    Brooklin, ME

  2. We are great, and I'm glad to know that I am not the only one out here, wanting to stay informed and simultaneously not terrify my kids.

    Hugs to all!