Saturday, March 2, 2013

NPR Continues to Publish Erroneous Information about 2009 Pew Study and U.S. Catholic Affiliation Data: I Continue to Contact NPR

Speaking of scholars or media outlets that won't answer inquiry letters when they have gotten their facts wrong: 

As I told readers here last Monday, in an article that National Public Radio published on its website on 24 February, a statement misrepresenting the findings of a 2009 Pew Research Center study appears. NPR informs readers that the Pew study (to which it links) states that by 2009, about one in ten American Catholic adults had left the Catholic church.

But the Pew study itself, to which NPR points readers of its article, plainly states that the Pew study finds that one in ten American adults is a former Catholic, while about one in three American adults raised Catholic had left the Catholic church by 2009. There's a big difference between what Pew plainly states and what NPR is reporting, and it's not difficult to see the difference.

As I also told readers in my posting last week, I have repeatedly contacted NPR to ask them to issue a correction of their mistake. To date, I have received only a pro forma email acknowledgment of my error report.

The mistake continues to appear in NPR's web article.

And, of course, I do not intend to let this matter drop. Yesterday, I sent a letter to Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR's Religion Correspondent, with a cc to Melissa Block, Host of NPR's "All Things Considered," informing NPR yet again of the serious error of fact in their 24 February article, and recounting my repeated attempts to contact NPR and have the error corrected--and my communications acknowledged. 

My letter ends as follows:

I’m baffled at the apparent unwillingness of NPR to correct a glaring error of fact in your reporting—and after repeated requests to you to address this problem, which note that the Pew Forum document to which you yourself point contradicts a statement in your report.  I’m also unhappy that NPR appears to be treating my request to you to address this error as if it doesn’t deserve an answer or any attention. 
I have long valued NPR.  My tax dollars go toward support of your valuable enterprise, and I therefore have a vested interest in seeing that you pursue excellence and avoid bias in your reporting.   
In addition, as a Catholic theologian, I naturally have a strong interest in seeing that the public is well-informed in discussions about the state of my church.  You are not doing the public a service by misreporting information about the findings of the 2009 Pew Forum study. 
I ask you respectfully please to correct your mistake.  If you don’t do so, and if you continue to ignore my request, I’ll continue to address this issue until I receive a satisfactory response.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

I'll keep you posted regarding what I hear back from NPR--and what happens. Meanwhile, here's contact information for NPR:

Phone Numbers:
Listener Services: (202) 513-3232
(Hours: 10am to 5pm ET, Monday through Friday)

NPR Staff Directory: (202) 513-2000
Corporate Sponsorship: (202) 513 -2093
NPR Foundation: (202) 513-2073
Main Fax: (202) 513-3329

Mailing Address:
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Washington, DC 20001

Or, NPR can be contacted via this email form at its website.

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