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Twitter changes label on NPR account

The new label claims NPR is "government-funded," even though the organization doesn't receive much government funding.

The new label claims NPR is "government-funded," even though the organization doesn't receive much government funding.

NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., on November 8, 2018. (Photo by Allison Shelley/NPR/Handout)

Twitter has altered a controversial label on the main profile of public radio organization NPR in an apparent attempt to placate critics who said the prior label was not accurate.

The new label claims NPR is “government funded,” though the program distributor actually receives only around 1 percent of its funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The majority of NPR’s funding comes from corporate sponsorship, private grants and member stations who purchase NPR programs like “Fresh Air,” “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” for their individual broadcast outlets.

The replacement label comes after Twitter owner Elon Musk said the website would reconsider an earlier one that claimed NPR was “state-affiliated,” which would have grouped the public radio organization with actual state-funded news networks like BBC News, RT and Voice of America.

The decision to reconsider apparently came after reporters and other officials at NPR provided Musk with documents and information that showed the majority of the organization’s funding did not originate with the U.S. government.

Only NPR’s main profile was labeled as “state-affiliated media.” Ancillary accounts, including NPR Business, NPR Extra and NPR West, never got the label; as of Saturday, they still did not have the “government-funded” label that Twitter later applied to NPR’s main account.

The decision to label NPR’s main account as “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” almost certainly originated with Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion in late October following months of hostility with Twitter’s top executives and board (which he immediately fired).

Since the acquisition, Musk has dismissed dozens of key engineers needed to maintain the integrity and overall operation of the website, re-tooled Twitter’s verification platform in confusing ways and pranked members of the news media by hiring actors to falsely present themselves as laid-off employees.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

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