The podcast Radio Diaries recently featured an insightful interview with Bill Siemering, one of the founders of National Public Radio. In it, they discuss the original NPR mission statement written in 1969; the document outlined their vision for non-commercial radio that would bring context, culture and humanity to the news.
Mr. Siemering read a short excerpt from the mission statement on the podcast, and I was moved by how sincere and optimistic it was. I have always enjoyed NPR, and knowing the lofty ideals behind its founding only deepens my appreciation. As a media creator, their statement articulates the kind of values that I aspire to express in my own work. In fact, I was so impressed and inspired that I wanted to share some brief quotes from it here (courtesy of the transcription by Transom.org).
National Public Radio will serve the individual, it will promote personal growth, it will regard the individual differences with respect and joy, rather than derision and hate. It will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied, rather than vacuous and banal. It will encourage a sense of active, constructive participation, rather than apathetic helplessness.
The total service should be trustworthy, enhance intellectual development, expand knowledge, deepen aural aesthetic enjoyment, increase the pleasure of living in a pluralistic society, and result in a service to listeners which makes them more responsive, informed human beings and intelligent, responsible citizens of their communities and the world.
It would speak with many voices and many dialects. The editorial attitude would be that of inquiry, curiosity, concern for the quality of life, critical problem solving, and life loving. The listener should come to rely upon it as a source of information of consequence, of having listened as having made a difference in his attitude toward his environment and himself.
National Public Radio will not regard its audience as a market, or in terms of its disposable income, but as curious, complex individuals who are looking for some understanding, meaning, and joy in the human experience.
I’ve highlighted a few sections that I thought were particularly eloquent. You can read NPR’s entire original mission statement here.
To relate this to my own work, I wonder how a video game could “celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied”. How can we engage our players as “curious, complex individuals” with “a sense of active, constructive participation”? I don’t have any clear answers, but I’ll aspire to keep such objectives at the heart of my creative work.