NPR's tote bags-and-teacups image belies a formidable digital news organization. Despite recent layoffs, NPR is building on a $200 million bequest from McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc and a doubling over the last decade of both corporate sponsorship and weekly audience. New CEO Vivian Schiller, from New York Times Digital, is likely to make NPR -- already iTunes' most successful mainstream-media outlet -- even stronger.
NPR now reaches more than 30 million Americans each week--more than CNN or USA Today. When other news organizations were closing foreign bureaus, they were opening them; they now gather and produce content from some 36 locations around the world, not to mention over 800 member stations that handle local news. How does the nonprofit pay for it all? Of course, people like you, along with revenues from corporate sponsorship (doubled in the past decade), and a $200 million bequest from Joan Kroc (widow of McDonald's founder Ray), the largest ever to an American cultural institution. They haven't been immune to economic storms, but their endowment should buffer them through a winter that's been much harsher for most other major media organizations. Now NPR has some of their top talent too--in the past few months Vivian Schiller has joined from New York Times Digital as the new CEO and Kinsey Wilson from USA Today as head of digital media.