NPR Education Reporter Bravely Slams Bosses Over Lottery Gimmick

Last week when the PowerBall lottery got enormous, the head of NPR bought everyone a ticket and told them they had to share the winnings if there were anyone.

Current picked up the story (NPR CEO buys Powerball tickets for entire staff).

Not everyone was amused, however. And lead NPR education blogger Anya Kamenetz said so publicly, via Twitter: “Gambling is addictive & regressive. I don’t want to support it in any way. I don’t think this is cute. #killjoy.”

A few folks liked and retweeted Kamenetz’s post, and she explained in subsequent Tweets that she had indeed declined the offer and was simply opposed to gambling. 

The issue of gambling and its revenue is especially relevant to education journalists, since so much of the money is supposed to go towards schools (but in practice often doesn’t) and since, as Kamenetz pointed out, those most likely to participate in these kinds of low-odds lotteries are economically disadvantaged communities with the greatest educational needs. See this recent Washington Post story about how much states rely on lottery winnings and what the money is supposed to go towards

Kamenetz is certainly entitled to her opinion, and ideally there won’t be any kind of pushback against her at the station. If so, she is not entirely without assistance. NPR and several other nonprofit radio stations are now unionized workplaces. 

Was Kamenetz nervous about sending the email? Was there any reaction internally? Did it make a difference that NPR is unionized? Reached last night via email, the NPR blogger said she had no comment.

Related posts: No More On-Air Plugs For “The Test” (& Other NPR Staffers’ Books)NPR’s “Grad Rates” Shows Us How Well Education Journalism Can Be DoneErrant Diversity Tweet Creates NPR Mini-ControversyNPR Blogger Corrects New Orleans Tweet (But Stands By Story).

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.