Uri Berliner’s Resignation Is the Latest Example of Dissent In Newsrooms

Newsrooms are split on how to cover the most pressing political issues of our time.

NPR CEO Katherine Maher
NPR CEO Katherine Maher has not yet made a public statement on Uri Berlinger’s resignation. Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile for Web Summit Qatar via Getty Images

Newsrooms continue to be split by ideological differences among staffers. On Wednesday (April 17), NPR senior business editor Uri Berliner resigned from the organization following a critical essay he wrote in The Free Press earlier this month, claiming the publisher was too left-leaning and had lost its “viewpoint diversity.” Berliner made his resignation to NPR CEO Katherine Maher public by posting a screenshot of it on X. 

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“I respect the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism,” Berliner wrote. “But I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay.”

NPR announced Maher as its new CEO in January, succeeding Jon Lansing who served in the position for four years. Prior to NPR, Maher worked for nonprofit organizations, including the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia, and the Signal Foundation. She also has a background in politics and advocacy as a member of the think tank Atlantic Council and the U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Policy Board. 

As a result of Berliner’s opinion piece, Maher has been scrutinized for her personal and political beliefs, which include a now-deleted tweet from 2018 calling former President Donald Trump a racist. Maher has not made a statement, but reportedly said at an event in Washington DC that NPR is “rigorously committed to upholding a strong culture of inquiry.” 

It is not uncommon for newsroom staff to criticize or take stances against their organizations over their coverage and political choices. But they’re not all citing left-leaning bias like Berliner. Prominent NBC and MSNBC staffers Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd called out NBC News for hiring former Republican National Convention chief Ronna McDaniel, who participated in denying Joe Biden’s presidential win over Trump in 2020. NBC News reversed its decision before McDaniel began her role as a contributor. 

Among other issues he had around NPR’s coverage of Covid, the 2020 election, and racial justice, Berliner’s article for The Free Press also criticized NPR’s coverage of Israel, saying the newsroom downplayed the Hamas attacks on October 7 of last year to highlight the suffering of Palestinians in the aftermath. Though Berliner is using NPR as an example, this perspective also shows a disconnect in how journalists and audiences view coverage of the conflict. Plenty of prominent papers, like The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, have been called out for pro-Israel bias in their coverage. Some journalists have resigned as a result. Two New York Times writers left the paper, one forcibly, last November after signing an open letter condemning the war in Gaza. The letter said, “We condemn those in our industries who continue to enable apartheid and genocide.”

MSNBC was reportedly removing Muslim anchors off the air as Israel began its war on Palestinians in Gaza, including demoting the Mehdi Hasan Show. Hasan announced he was leaving the network in January and started his own show on Substack this month. Though Hasan didn’t state why he left, he featured Palestinian photographer Motaz Aziza in his final program and used his platform to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  

Some journalists believe the news is too left-leaning, while others believe the opposite. But national newsrooms, which have long based themselves on the ideals of objectivity and neutrality seem to be faltering as audiences become more polarized.

Uri Berliner’s Resignation Is the Latest Example of Dissent In Newsrooms