Lisa Simeone fired from NPR for participating in a protest
"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," says Moira Rankin, president of Soundprint Media Center Inc.
The protest, which was held near the White House, began as an anti-war protest but turned into an anti-corporate greed protest as well. NPR says that Simeone doesn't work for its radio network, since "Soundprint" is an independent radio show, and it hadn't pressed Soundprint to fire Simeone. Simeone also says the protest, held by the October 2011 Movement, is not connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement, though they share similar ideologies.
"I don't cover news. In none of the shows that I do, do I cover the news," Simeone tells the AP. "What is NPR afraid I'll do? Insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of 'Madame Butterfly?'"
Simeone also hosts "World of Opera" for WDAV, a classical music station based out of Davidson, N.C. That station defended Simeone Thursday, saying her activities were not in any violation of WDAV's codes and have no effect on her job performance.
But NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher says the NPR code of ethics still applies to cultural programs it distributes, like "World of Opera." "We are not her employer, but she is a host for a show that we distribute. She's a public person who represents NPR and public radio," says Christopher.
Interestingly, the NPR's code of ethics states that NPR journalists "may not participate in marches or rallies" involving issues NPR covers. But the code notes that some provisions may not apply to outside contributors and uses a freelancer who primarily covers the arts as an example.
"I have never brought any of my political activities into my work for 'Soundprint,' 'NPR World of Opera,' or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra series," Simeone tells the AP, adding that she doesn't cover politics or the news.