With yesterday's news that Lisa Simeone was fired from her one radio gig but retained at her other, we now have word on what exactly both radio shows were thinking when they made their decision. Simeone was canned as host of Soundprint, a documentary show, after it came to light that she participated in the Occupy D.C. protests, but she's keeping her hosting duties at her other show aired on NPR, World of Opera, as the two shows are produced by different companies. Maryland-based Soundprint Media Center, which produces Soundprint but is not part of NPR, said Simeone's participation in the protest clearly violated NPR ethics code, which the company adopted for itself because "listeners don't know the difference between NPR and independent producers across the country," the AP reports. Moira Rankin, the president of Soundprint, clarifies the company's decision in the report:
In my mind, it's fine if you want to be a leader of an organized protest movement, but you can't also be in a journalistic role. You can't be the host of a journalism program and plead that you are different than the reporter who is going to come on a minute after you introduce the program.
However, World of Opera, distributed nationally by NPR, is produced by WDAV, a classical-music radio station in North Carolina, and it doesn't see any conflict of interest where Soundprint does. "Ms. Simeone's activities outside of this job are not in violation of any of WDAV's employee codes and have had no effect on her job performance," a station spokesperson wrote in an email to the AP. Interestingly, although the national network itself "questioned" Simeone's activism, saying that its code of ethics applies to cultural radio shows like hers, NPR is emphasizing that it can't take action against someone it doesn't employ. "We are not her employer, but she is a host for a show that we distribute," an NPR spokesperson told the AP. "She's a public person who represents NPR and public radio."
For the record, Simeone defends her choice to protest here:
I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen -- the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly -- on my own time in my own life. I'm not an NPR employee. I'm a freelancer. NPR doesn't pay me. I'm also not a news reporter. I don't cover politics. I've never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I've done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?