James O’Keefe’s antics aside, I think National Public Radio will be okay in the long run because, as the latest Pew survey of journalism finds, listening to NPR is really popular:
Of all the traditional media, the audience for AM/FM radio has remained among the most stable. In all, 93% of Americans listened to AM/FM radio at some point during the week in 2010, according to data from Arbitron, and this has dropped only three percentage points in the last decade. News may have suffered more. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 16% of Americans say they get most of their national and international news from radio, down 6% from 2009. And 34% of Americans said they got some news on the radio “yesterday,” down from 43% in 2000. NPR, by contrast, has flourished as commercial all-news radio programming has become scarcer. NPR’s audience grew 3% in 2010, according to NPR internal data, to 27.2 million a week. That is up 58% since 2000.
Meanwhile, cable news is collapsing:
NPR, I might add, is doing really good stuff online with things like the Planet Money and Radiolab podcasts. I think it’s noteworthy that despite the “decline” of old media, as best I can tell NPR, the BBC, and The New York Times all have much larger audiences than they did 10 years ago. A big part of what’s happened is that the highest-quality media brands have extended their reach, even as lesser players have been hammered and new venues have come to the fore.