Why NPR cutbacks hurt all of us

When National Public Radio cuts staff, as it did Wednesday in announcing that it is cutting 7% of its work force, it's bad for everyone. Or at least everyone seeking to know what's going on in the world around them.

Media aren't exempt from the recession, and newspapers across the country have been cutting staff for a few years as advertising and circulation have fallen. The losses are problems they're slowly learning to deal with, except for the bankrupt Tribune Co. or nonprofits such as the Christian Science Monitor which stopped its print publication to go entirely on the Internet.

But when organizations such as NPR and others that rely on donations start making cuts in their news gathering, then we're all worse off for it. NPR and other organizations that survive on grants, donations and corporate sponsors, such as PBS, do much of the heavy lifting in journalism that newspapers have unfortunately left behind as they've made more cuts to survive.

NPR is one of the few American news organizations with correspondents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cutting 64 jobs, not filling 21 vacant positions, and killing two weekday programs doesn't mean the end for NPR, and hopefully the cuts won't continue.