My short bio: I've been a reporter and host in public radio for 15 years. I was the co-host of the PRI show "The Takeaway" until last year and now guest host at NPR for shows like "Tell Me More," "Weekend Edition," and others. I also report for the BBC and hosted election coverage for PBS World. I'm currently launching a brand new show that will focus only on the middle of the country. Here's the Kickstarter page:

My Proof:

Comments: 173 • Responses: 84  • Date: 

Chukanorth19 karma

Is HBO's 'The Newsroom' anything like the real thing in a actual newsroom? Like the intensity when a breaking news comes to surface?

celestialthots23 karma

There are a lot of things that Sorkin actually gets right. How the reports are put together and the pressure of getting sources to commit and all that is correct.

The main thing I see is that we don't talk as much as they do. haha! When you're covering breaking news, you assign people to do certain things (like making calls, etc) and then you all disperse to do your tasks while the anchor is on the air frantically reading AP reports and looking for new information. We don't have the time to chat like they do. We generally have one news meeting a day and it's focused on just assigning stories and getting on with it.

celestialthots13 karma

I'm pretty impressed! No one has asked me what celebrities are the meanest, smelliest, smartest, etc...

chipsy_queen9 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, Celeste.
From the inside, what's the relationship with APM? Cooperative, rivals, cooperative rivals?
As someone who grew up in the middle of the country, can you tell me more about Middle Ground? What inspired you, how long you've wanted to do it, what kind of feedback you've gotten, etc.

celestialthots13 karma

Not sure what the relationship is at the management level. For reporters and hosts, we're not competitive. Pub radio is a small world. We've all worked together at some point or will work together. They're our colleagues and we love them.

I'm so glad you asked about Middle Ground. Here's a link to the Kickstarter:

I've wanted to do this for years. I started in radio at KNAU in Arizona and then spent more than a decade in Detroit and I found that national reporting on the middle of the country is really, really bad. Instead of using the reporters who live there and are invested in the community, networks will fly in reporters for 24 hours. That's not how you get great coverage.

I think part of the reason we're so politically polarized is that Americans neither know nor understand one another, and it's very easy to hate "the other". It's really easy to see "the other" is not human. So the more we know about each other, the more empathy we'll have, the closer we can come as a country.

There are really incredible stories waiting to be told. I hope we get the funds we need to launch this show. I'm SO passionate about it and really believe in the mission.

chipsy_queen4 karma

I really hope you reach your goal! It sounds like an amazing undertaking that could really help to heal some old wounds. Thanks for your passion in representing the softer-spoken part of the country. Best of luck!

celestialthots3 karma

Thanks! Spread the word.

DanDierdorf0 karma

I think part of the reason we're so politically polarized is that Americans neither know nor understand one another, and it's very easy to hate "the other". It's really easy to see "the other" is not human.

No, it's because certain groups, starting with Gingrich back in the 80's started to use that sort of divisive language. It's NOT AN ACCIDENT, it didn't use to be this way. By now I've come to the conclusion it's being used in a way to "divide and conquer" the American populace.

celestialthots3 karma

I agree that division is an incredibly effective political tool. But better familiarity would make it harder to divide us.

celestialthots5 karma

On the feedback part - we've gotten an amazing response. We've heard from lost of stations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Colorado....

I think people are hungry for better and more inclusive news. Public radio listeners are generally very smart, curious people.

celestialthots7 karma

I'm going to a movie with my husband in 10 minutes, but if you post a question on this thread at any time, I will try and answer it as quickly as possible.

romanov_76_1105 karma

Any chance you will finally talk about your World of Warcraft love connection?

celestialthots5 karma

We met in a guild. You can actually hear us playing together in this piece I did:

Gravy-Leg__7 karma

How are stories fact checked before they go on air? Is everything run by a lawyer to make sure there is nothing potentially slanderous?

celestialthots13 karma

Not in public radio - we can't afford that many lawyers.

But every story is fact checked by the editor, the senior editor and the host. So there are multiple pairs of eyes looking for errors. Stuff still gets through, though.

I know NPR peeps are really, really careful about anything that could be inflammatory. The editors are always reining me in.

NDaveT3 karma

Are you still not allowed to call waterboarding and stress positions "torture"?

celestialthots3 karma

I haven't run into this, or been told not to call it torture. If there is an official NPR policy on this, I'm unaware of it.

NDaveT2 karma

There was in 2009; I don't know about now. Here's the background to my question:

celestialthots1 karma

That's a great interview from Bob Garfield. And it's a tough issue, I think. Partly because there's this myth out there that NPR is a government-funded organization when in truth it only gets 2% of its funding directly from the govt:

So any time we anger a political party, it becomes an excuse to call for an end to funding for public broadcasting. While that wouldn't hurt NPR all that much, it would be disastrous for local stations, especially in rural areas and for local PBS stations and all the other small local groups that rely on grants from the CPB to survive.

I don't think that ever affects story choices or deters us from covering newsmakers, but it does mean the organization is very careful to follow the law. We try to be sure that our editorial choices are legal and defensible. Since "torture" is a legal term, I imagine it was tough to decide whether to use it or not.

celestialthots7 karma

I should also mention (since someone just messaged me about it) that I'm a classically trained soprano and my grandfather is composer William Grant Still. If you have questions about music, opera and Still, I'll answer those too.

romanov_76_1103 karma

Well, since you said it's OK... :)

1) Would you talk about what you remember personally about your grandfather or any memories about him. I would be interested in that perspective.

2) Of his vast catalogue, what are some of your favorite of his compositions, (and you don't have to limit yourself to the well known works).

celestialthots8 karma

1) My grandfather was absolutely my favorite person in the world, and I didn't know he was famous until after he died. He was just a very gentle spirit. I remember we went to a concert where an orchestra was playing his music and he sat holding my hand, beating time to the music and saying, "Too fast, too fast."

3) My favorite piece is "Mother and Child" from the Suite for Violin and Piano. It makes me cry every time.

celestialthots4 karma

Do you have a favorite piece?

romanov_76_1103 karma

I'm not very experienced with his music I will admit. Everyone loves the Afro-American Symphony of course, and I think Troubled Island is a great opera. I suppose I'm simple that way!

(I was kind of hoping you would end up giving me some listening recommendations to search out! :) )

celestialthots5 karma

His chamber music is a great place to start. Here are some good recordings:

The first one has the Suite for Violin & Piano on it, with my fav piece.

I also highly recommend the Lyric Suite, Sahdji, the Danzas de Panama.

EvilTech51505 karma

What makes all people on NPR sound like they're heavily medicated? Is it a style guideline or something?

Also, any favorite microphones? Such as the RE20, Ribbon microphones, etc?

celestialthots8 karma

You're the second person to mention that. It's definitely NOT a style guideline. On the other hand, I've had exec. producers tell me to keep my vocal range confined to the middle of my voice. They tell me that I sound screechy when I go high, and people complain all the time about women using vocal fry in the low range. I think NPR has tried to sound serious and calm and credible and this is the sound that matches that best for them?

I try very hard to be natural and respond like a human being, even if I sound silly. But to be natural, you have to give up a little bit of control and let yourself react. That can be scary and dangerous. You open yourself up to make mistakes. I don't mind because I don't think anyone thinks I'm perfect. But others aren't quite so comfortable with that.

I love the RE20, but I need two windscreens on it, stacked on top of each other, because I pop my p's so much.

EvilTech51502 karma

Yeah, radio is nuts that way. They make male voices sound super deep, and female voices are all over the place. Back when Debbie Stabenow was less than famous, her voice always sounded like fingers on a chalkboard when she was on PBS. They also forget to tell her that wearing stripes and checks is bad when they have the "prettycam" effect box going for the video. :D

celestialthots6 karma

Wearing stripes on TV is just not usually a good idea.

I think modern listeners are capable of accepting all ranges of voices and I also think many listeners want radio people to sound natural. People can tell when you're using a "radio voice."

General_Krull5 karma


celestialthots3 karma

I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for best supporting radio host.

Salacious-4 karma

What is the most interesting story you've seen that almost came out, but you didn't have substantial enough sources to be sure that it was true?

celestialthots9 karma

I guess I'm not supposed to start answering until 11am, but I'm sitting here and that's a good question, so I'll answer it anyway. Some of the best examples of this are stories where you have the source but can't convince them to go on the record. For obvious reasons, I can't give precise details about this.

However! I had one auto worker that almost went on record talking about the way the management in his plant (foreign-owned) coerced and wheedled the employees into opposing union membership. Also, I had a member of one of the two parties claiming some really incredible workplace violations (racist, mostly).

In most cases, people who decide not to come forward are employees who are afraid they'll never get another job if they disclose information about their workplace.

iwanttofork4 karma

The Colbert Report or The Daily Show?

celestialthots5 karma

Ooooh. Mmmm, that's controversial. But I'm going with Colbert.

Phritz7773 karma

From the inside have you ever picked up on any strong bias from the reporting of any of the 4 news media sources that you've worked for? I imagine it must be hard for anyone to report without some sort of bias, but NPR, PRI, BBC, and PBS all seem to be the ones trying the hardest to maintain unbiased news.

I also wanted to thank you personally for being a part of organizations that, in my mind, cut through all the finger pointing, and demonizing that plagues both sides our news media.

celestialthots3 karma

Thanks for listening. Honestly, I've never seen any evidence of strong bias in the reporting. Colleagues will have their own opinions, but people are really ready to jump all over you if the bias appears in your piece. The underwriting department wasn't even allowed to talk to us about who was buying funding spots.

goodguygaymer3 karma

Hi Celeste! Oklahoma NPR checking in whose text has made it to The Takeaway.

I have two questions for you.

1) In Oklahoma, the average person sees NPR as an extremely liberal source of media. What is your response to this notion?

2) What do you consider to be your largest achievement in life?

Thanks for doing this AMA! You're the best!

celestialthots3 karma

1) I think people often choose their news sources according to who will tell them what they agree with. The facts sound right because it aligns with what they believe to be true. That's too bad, but not much I can do about it. I generally send people to listen to the On the Media examination of this topic, which I thought was great: But I doubt they listen.

  1. My biggest achievement so far is my son. He's 15, still alive, very bright, very funny and very compassionate. I'm excited to see what kind of man he becomes. Honestly, I've had a pretty tough life. The fact that I've survived and thrived is a pretty big point of pride for me.

window50 karma

In Oklahoma, the average person sees NPR as an extremely liberal source of media.

Would be better if there was an OPR instead of NPR, no? Let the people of Oklahoma decide from the grassroots the content of their radio stations.

celestialthots2 karma

You need a mix of local programming with national. OR you could support my effort to create a national show that only focuses on states like Oklahoma. I interviewed Wayne Coyne for the pilot -- you can listen from the link below.

celestialthots3 karma

I just want to say, for all of my colleagues who've teased me for being a video game geek, that the largest donation to my Kickstarter campaign so far has come from a friend I made while playing World of Warcraft.

bgreener3 karma

Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for this AMA. Huge fan of all things public radio.

What is the most difficult interview you've ever done? I'm really interested to hear about any experience you've had where you completely disagreed with someone you may have been interviewing, but had to hold back your own opinions to ask the important questions.

celestialthots3 karma

The most difficult interviews are often the emotional ones in which you're afraid someone is going to cry. And I've had many interviews in which I personally disagreed with the person I was talking to. Usually, it doesn't matter. I'm still interested in their point of view.

The ones I hate are with pundits who distort facts and say things that simply aren't true. It's hard to refute everything without sounding argumentative and you end up not getting any useful information. I think those kind of interviews are stupid and I wish I never had to do them.

atticusquinn3 karma


celestialthots6 karma

Go to your local station and apply for an internship! Most of them have internships available and they'll give you free training! Also, they're usually really cool people.

Gravy-Leg__3 karma

When you first started in broadcasting, did you get any coaching on how to speak like a proper news reporter (things like how to mask an accent, how to pronounce certain words, ...)? Did you have to make any adjustments to the way you talked?

celestialthots8 karma

I got a LOT of training. I did 3 extended fellowships with David Candow (the Host Whisperer) as well, and he's one of the greatest.

I don't really have a discernible accent. However, from my opera training, I over-enunciated my consonants and I had to cool it down a little.

I still pop my p's too much and I can't say "participate" on air if my life depends on it.

grilltrain3 karma

Nice article about David Candow. I had always wondered about the "NPR voice."

celestialthots2 karma

Thanks for that link. I hadn't read that one.

romanov_76_1103 karma

What did you think about the NPR/Juan Williams situation a few years back? Were you there at the time?

celestialthots9 karma

Whew! This is a tough one and I have to be honest and say that I have to be very careful in how I answer this. This issue is still sensitive for us.

I will say this: NPR's relationship had been rocky for a while and the comments on Fox were not the only thing that prompted his departure. On the other hand, I think NPR handled it badly.

I think NPR doesn't defend itself aggressively enough, actually. I think we get defensive too quickly and sometimes bend too much.

Gravy-Leg__3 karma

How much time does it take to put together a typical minute-long news report?

celestialthots8 karma

Some of them can be put together in 30 minutes: write the story, get it edited, record it.

The bummer about reporting is that you spend half your time waiting for people to call you back. So if you can't get your clip of tape and you have to keep calling around, it can take hours just to do that 45 second spot.

TheLighterDr3 karma

If someone mispronounces your last name, do you yell "THAT'S HEADLEE!"

celestialthots5 karma

HAHAHA. yes. yes I do.

Usually, people misspell it. They write either "Headley" or they try to be funny and write "Headless."

celestialthots4 karma

Also for some reason people mispronounce my first name and call me "Chelsea" all the time. I don't know why.

romanov_76_1103 karma

Remembering your Al Jazeera article ( on the NYCO, what do you feel is the state of America's orchestras/operas? From any perspective: financial/repertoire/or whatever.

Sort of related to that are the orchestra strikes (such as the Minnesota Orchestra) that come up every once and a while. What do you think about them (for example in that case of the Minnesota Orchestra where the conductor eventually leaves)? Who is "more in the right?" Management or musician?

celestialthots3 karma

I think classical music is too slow to change and until they get with the times, they will continue to decline. One of my favorite organizations is Sphinx: which is trying to diversify our orchestras.

Also on Wednesday, I'm going to a concert with CutTime Simfonica at the NGA.

Classical Revolution is trying to instill classical concerts with the esthetics of urban pop. It's awesome.

I am a member of AGMA and a working musician. I empathize with all my brothers and sisters out there trying to make a living from music. No dispute is simple, but I do think NYCO's board drove that company into the ground. And I think classical management in general has got to wake up and start innovating.

uberlad3 karma


celestialthots10 karma

It's hard to say this without sounding cheesy, but I'd say: say yes!

The best opportunities in my life have come about because someone asked me to do something and instead of saying, "I don't know how to do that," I just thought, "OK, I'll try it."

That's how I got into radio. I just figured, if I sucked at it, I would do something else. But people are pretty forgiving of mistakes when you admit you need help and they'll train you for FREE!

So, don't define what your identity is. Don't say, "I'm a creative person and I need a job in the tech industry that allows me autonomy." Just take all the opportunities that come your way and you might be surprised to find that you're not the person you thought you were.

hisglasses553 karma


celestialthots13 karma

Honestly, I'm pretty impressed with Al Jazeera America. They seem to be sincerely focused on doing serious reporting and catching the stories no one else is interested in covering.

The BBC, of course, is great.

synesthesiatic3 karma

Hi there Ms. Headlee. Greetings from Ireland! I've listened to PRI and NPR for most all of my life.

My questions for you: Have you experienced any discrimination or been treated dismissively because of your gender? The radio world seems dominated by men, and you've been around for quite awhile. What's it been like being a woman in a traditionally "masculine" field?

Secondly, what's a story that you've covered that's stuck with you and shaped the way you have developed as a reporter?

Thanks for hosting "The Takeaway!" I listened to it quite a bit on my morning commute into college, and I'll miss hearing your voice. All the best from cold, grey Dublin. Maybe someday we'll hear you on RTÉ :)

celestialthots5 karma

Hello Ireland!! Thank you for asking that first question. Yes yes yes. I experience sexism constantly, especially from guests. Some of them have even patted my knee and called me "honey" on the air. In the past year, I interviewed for 3 jobs. I lost all of them to men. In one job for which I had the exact same title and duties as my male colleague, I made half as much as he did. Sexism is a real problem in journalism, as it is in many industries. I wish I could say that having a female boss made it easier, but that's just not true.

Early in my career, I did a story about a guy in Michigan who was photographing Holocaust victims and recording their stories. That story really moved me, and made me aware of the power of silence in radio. I think a lot of people are afraid of silence. They rush to fill it, re-stating questions when a person doesn't immediately answer. I found out that giving a person time to think usually results in a much better interview.

guineawheat2 karma

What is your all time favorite news story?

celestialthots1 karma

No idea. The stories on World of Warcraft were up there, also the piece on Detroit Lions fans going through the five stages of grief and the piece on toilet smuggling. Probably those. I like the pieces that let me have a little fun.

Mrswhiskers2 karma

Why is it that every NPR interview I listen to everyone's voice is so quiet, emotionless, and almost monotone? It's almost like they're whispering into a microphone. Is this the producers doing? Does NPR require this or is journalism taught this way? (Sorry if this doesn't sound serious I don't know how else to phrase it. It is a serious question though)

If not can you please pass on to your colleagues to have a little more passion for what they're talking about. It's always very interesting but they lose my attention with the lack of passion.

celestialthots8 karma

I'm with you, Mrswhiskers. But if you've heard me host, you know that I can be really passionate in my delivery.

This has come to be known as the NPR-style. Honestly, I think it's slowly changing. Just very, very slowly. People get on NPR and they want to sound like all the other people they've heard for years. They imitate what they've heard.

But when you let go of that control, you open yourself up to make mistakes, or be too loud or laugh too much. And at NPR, people don't like to make mistakes.

SaturatedPhats2 karma

Is Carl Kassel as sexy in person?

Also, would you say its easier to get quotes from public sector sources or private sector? Is it easier to investigate a government scandal or a financial one?

celestialthots3 karma

Ha! Carl Kassell is as charming as he ever was and just one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. I wouldn't go so far as sexy, but he's quite a bit older than I am.

It's easier to get quotes from the private sector because they all have PR people who are prepared to talk to you. Government people are usually nervous and have to check with higher-ups before saying anything.

On the other hand, it's easier to investigate government sources because someone, somewhere will tell you something as an "anonymous source". It's REALLY hard to get people at banks or hedge funds to tell you anything.

Mundus_Vult_Decipi2 karma

How did you get hired at NPR, PRI, BBC, PBS with a relatively normal sounding name like Celeste Headlee? I thought that they only hired people whose names couldn't be spelled, and could barely be pronounced.

celestialthots4 karma

good point. Maybe if my name were Celeste Firtansatick, I would be hosting Morning Edition. :) I guess I slipped in under the radar.

Normal names unite!

BiPolarBear5122 karma


celestialthots2 karma

Successful by what measure? By total number of major laws passed? Yes. By number of campaign promises kept? He's below 50%: but he's also pretty successful compared to other politicians.

It's too early to know who the front runners will be. I'm not even totally convinced that Hilary will run. But I do think there's a chance that the Republican party will split. The Tea Party might make a break for it because how does someone like Colin Powell stay in the same party with Ted Cruz? Also a lot of people on the left are unhappy with Obama because he's a centrist. (To be fair, he ran as a centrist and that's how he's running the country) So we could see a sort of Wikileaks party sprout up as well.

dangerdark2 karma

As we become more technically adept and closely connected through the internet it seems that "real" journalism is a dying art that is becoming rapidly replaced by 'bloggers' who feel that a sensationalist headline is the only thing that matters. There is no need to fact check when it is simpler to just pass your opinion off as the truth. If their opinion is too far from the truth then a straw man argument is the most efficient way to manipulate the situation into something they can continue to talk about. They believe that as long as they are getting website hits then their version of the "news" is successful. This type of reporting feels to be toxic in the fact that once a few people see how popular one can become by spouting bile they want to imitate the behavior in an attempt to try and achieve the same level of 'success' which results in questionable, opinionated, one-sided news that, at the very best, distorts fact. Now keeping all this in mind my question to you is: What type of vacuum cleaner usually gets used on set?

celestialthots2 karma

I couldn't agree with you more, and you said that all beautifully.

To answer your question: no idea. They wait to do all that noisy stuff until after I'm gone.

verybadwolf2 karma

It is common knowledge that all media organizations are owned and regulated by a very select few (5 in total) corporations. Clearly this creates a conflict of interest and boas, How does this make you feel as a professional in the industry? Is it safe to say we no longer have free press?

celestialthots2 karma

I agree. I think the quality of our news coverage started going down as soon as it became a commodity that needed to produce a profit. Why else does cable news think that Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are legitimate headlines? Give me a break.

On the other hand, most of the journalists I know are very smart, dedicated people who think they're contributing to the public good. I can only say that I'm glad I work for public radio.

Misacastro2 karma

What is your personal opinion on Russell Brand? Second, how would you react if you were one of the reporters here

celestialthots6 karma

I think Russell Brand is brilliant. He's one of those people whose intellect is almost like a physical force. I would never, ever, ever, ever advise someone not to vote, though.

That clip from Morning Joe bugged the crap out of me. There's just no excuse. It was that clip that inspired me to write this:

Brand gets a lot of traction out of talking to hosts who underestimate him. I would prepare for a conversation with him as carefully as one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Have you read his writing? It's really brilliant.

EvilTech51502 karma

That's sort of a criticism on the very closed two party voting system. A better version is: Voting: The slave's suggestion box

I figure it's more of a call to action to change things, but then, I'm a deranged optimist sometimes. :D

celestialthots4 karma

"Deranged optimist" is good.

I can't stand the two party system. I really hope we get a third, fourth and fifth party soon. It would solve a lot of problems.

Misacastro1 karma

Great post Celeste. I think some of those hosts on Morning Joe ought to take a leaf from your book (or blog post, I should say). Their responses and leading questions were so inappropriate, trivializing and patronizing.

I have never read Neil DeGrasse Tyson's writing, but I think I'll get on to it very soon. Thank you for responding! Wishing you all the best with your endeavors :)

celestialthots3 karma

Thanks! I wonder what you think about the current trend of anchors arguing with guests. Is that engaging?

verybadwolf2 karma

What do you think about the Obama administrations out right attack on journalism? Just this past year we have seen 4 major issues with the current administration over stepping boundaries when dealing with journalists.

celestialthots2 karma

This is a bad time for journalists overall. I agree that the trend of prosecuting reporters is really alarming and journalists need to be afforded protection. We are a vital part of democracy.

But also, the US is not the most dangerous place for journalists. Not even close. Reporters in other areas have been purposely targeted and killed and the world should be taking action:,41582.html

rangefound2 karma

Hi Celeste,

I love your voice on weekend edition. It always makes me fell calm.

Anyway, what is your opinion of Andrea Seabrook's new podcast and her choice to leave NPR? As a news reporter, do you think that you are forced to draw false equivalencies?

celestialthots2 karma

Thank you so much! I love Andrea and respect her highly. I donated to her Kickstarter campaign because I think it's important work.

And yes, there is incredibly pressure to create "balance" on the air. That sometimes ends up in false equivalencies. I fight it whenever I see it. It's a terrible problem in media right now.

Fionacat1 karma

What is in your opinion the worst reality television program that is currently showing?

celestialthots3 karma

Probably the Real Housewives of Whatever Damn City Wishes They Didn't Live There, or the Bachelor/Bachelorette crap. Just embarrassing.

NotAReal_Doctor1 karma

Are there any more acronyms that you would like to work for?

celestialthots1 karma

I could make some up.....

rottenbanana1271 karma

Shout-out from Detroit!

celestialthots1 karma

All my love to the D!

cornbreadseb1 karma

Any advice for recent graduates from journalism school?

On a lighter note, if you met a girl manatee, which part of her body would you stare at for the longest?

celestialthots1 karma

I would stare at her cute chubby cheeks and whiskers.

My advice is to go get training from working journalists and start writing stories! Just get a voice recorder and start reporting. The best way to learn it is to do it.

neoesquire1 karma

Hey Celeste! I miss listening to you on The Takeaway in the morning on the way to work!

In your journalistic endeavors, what story or guest has struck a real personal chord with you? Why?

celestialthots1 karma

Thanks so much! I miss doing the Takeaway, but not getting up at 3am.

One of the stories I did that still says with me is this one:

The woman I spoke to, Karen Stron, was so radiant, so loving. She moved me in a way I can't possibly explain. She's an extraordinary person and the need of these children is real.

LostPicasso1 karma

Have you seen the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times? If you could ask David Carr ( one question, what would it be?

celestialthots1 karma

I did see that documentary and I read Carr's memoir as well. I'm not good with one question things, but I would definitely ask him about the leak of information about the White House's so-called "kill list" and how he feels about the current administration's relationship with journalists.

LostPicasso1 karma

If I used your response to interview Carr myself, would you have an issue with that? In interviewing a guest, do the questions come from the interviewer or is it a more collaborative effort? I've always been curious if questions come from the interviewer or if their coworkers/bosses insist they ask certain things, whether they want to or not.

celestialthots1 karma

Feel free to use my response however you like. When I'm interviewing people for NPR, the producers will write out an intro and some suggested questions. I read through all the material they've given me and then usually make up my own questions. The editors always say, "Don't spend too much time on writing questions because Celeste will ignore them anyway."

jeffreytortoise1 karma

Celeste, I really enjoyed the balance you brought to The Takeaway. I think that the show is now worse off from having a single host, rather than the duo. (No critique of John as an individual!)

Was this a conscious decision by the producers to change the style of the show?

celestialthots1 karma

The decision was to make the show a one-hour show with one host, and they chose John. Having John as a solo host simply changed the style of the show. It's really that simple.

I'm glad you liked the show, though. I thought we did some great things and we brought in a lot of diverse listeners to public radio for the first time. I'm really proud of that.

brandontb921 karma

First off, thanks for NPR. I don't listen to radio except for to listen to NPR in them mornings on my way to work. I would like to know if you think journalism is a dead career choice. Everyone I know has difficulty find employment in the field. Did you have an issue when you started?

celestialthots2 karma

I have issues now! But it's hardly a dead career choice. There are lots of jobs in journalism. As long as you don't mind NOT being on TV or not writing for the NY Times, you'll be fine.

TylerTodd471 karma

Celeste, I know your forte is unbiased journalism but I must know. Would you rather fight one Rachel Martin sized duck or a hundred duck sized Rachel Martins?

celestialthots1 karma

I'll take the hundred duck-sized Rachel Martins. Smaller beaks means less damage and I can grab a couple of them to use as weapons.

fiftytwohertz1 karma

Hi Celeste! Any advice for a recent college grad who is trying to break into journalism? BBC and NPR are basically my dream jobs. Also: what's your opinion on J-schools? Yea or nay? I saw in an earlier comment you spoke of getting an internship (and I was thiiiiiiiiiiis close to being an ATC intern two years ago!) but most NPR internships are for students only; how can a graduate get started? I have a ton of experience in print, and a little in radio, but no one seems to want to hire me!

celestialthots1 karma

You don't start at NPR. Get an internship at your local station first. Start pitching stories to your local paper, to online papers, etc. Just start getting published somewhere and finding great stories.

Also, don't bother with J school. Better to specialize in something like science or environment. I got my first job because I had expertise in music. They trained me to do the radio part, but they couldn't train me to be an expert in my field.

fiftytwohertz1 karma

You're awesome. Thank you!! I'll be at NPR someday though :) (just not someday soon)

celestialthots2 karma

I hope you get there!

fiftytwohertz1 karma

3 days later and you're still replying to comments on your AMA? Celeste, you are so cool! If you're ever in Boston, please let me take you out for coffee or lunch so I can pick your brain about journalisticky stuff! It would seriously be the highlight of my year :D

celestialthots1 karma

You can always tempt me with coffee. I was just up in Boston, but I think I'll be back in a couple months for an event at the African-American history museum.

plkmann1 karma

How in the world could NPR cancel Talk of the Nation? It was such a fantastic show!

celestialthots1 karma

I totally agree. Sadly, that decision was well above my pay grade.

Simon_Plenderson1 karma

Did you like Harvey Corman in "Blazing Saddles"?

celestialthots1 karma

I see what you did there.... but he spelled it totally differently...

ModeofAction1 karma


celestialthots1 karma

All over the place. I read reddit every day. But I am a voracious consumer of stories. The only sources I avoid are those that don't stick to the truth.

GandolfShitler1 karma

What's your take on libertarianism?

celestialthots3 karma

Well, I don't take any public political stands for obvious reasons. I'm registered as an independent and that's pretty much how I vote. If I'm biased, it's against politicians as a species, since I don't really trust any of them.

On the other hand, I think Ron Paul is a very smart guy. I think some of his ideas are brilliant and he's an independent thinker. I respect that. I also think a healthy, informed mistrust of government is a good thing.

drunks231 karma

Got any pets? If so what kind and what are thier names?

celestialthots1 karma

I have a very spoiled beagle named Simba (we didn't name her) that we adopted from the pound. I would have more dogs, but my husband won't let me.

arctic91 karma

My local broadcast of public radio makes me feel bad for not giving them money.

But my favorite broadcasts are snap judgement and story corps. Don't mind listening to the BBC news casts or This American Life either. I enjoy most of the programming and have a deep appriciation for the public radio.

It really is a stark contrast to other news and talk broadcasts. Thank you guys for all your hard work and providing the network. Once I finish college and get a real job I'd love to contribute.

celestialthots2 karma

I was too broke to contribute for a long time, but I started giving 10 bucks while I was in college, just so I didn't have to feel guilty anymore. Probably didn't help them much, but I felt better.

Jawadd121 karma

Have any of your guests come in messy and untidy? Or are they usually posh or casual? I'd come in in my pajamas.

celestialthots2 karma

One of NY times reporters came in wearing her pajamas and slippers once. But mostly people dress up. I dress up as well, just to look professional. I'm not sure why they do it.

Jawadd121 karma

What if you wore pajamas and a robe and made had pajamas and robes for your guests too, just to give them a home-y environment, give them a motive that they should relax.

celestialthots2 karma

That's not a bad idea for a radio show. Early morning show with everyone in their PJs drinking coffee.

verybadwolf1 karma

Are you required to cater your articles to suite the needs of corporate and government lobbyists?

celestialthots2 karma

Not at all. I don't have any interaction with people like that. I pitch a story to an editor, he or she edits it, the exec producer looks it over and it goes on the air.

melonheadct1 karma

Advice for young journalists?

celestialthots1 karma

Just get out there and start reporting. Grab a notebook and a digital recorder (or your iphone) and start producing stuff. You gotta learn by doing it, make your mistakes before it matters.

celestialthots1 karma

Just start reporting. Don't wait for someone to pay you to do it. Find a great story and report it.

hlabarka1 karma

What are the best newspapers/channels/websites to get news from in your opinion?

celestialthots2 karma

When I really need to confirm something (if I can't talk directly to the people involved), then I go to NPR, NY Times, Al Jazeera or the BBC.

But you know, American Conservative is a fantastic publication and Mother Jones does amazing investigative journalism. My favorite magazine is Smithsonian. I just wanted to say that.

DohRayMeme1 karma

How will public broadcasting reconcile its reporting of current, and unfortunately future, government scandals involving national security and state secrets? Would NPR have the journalistic freedom to do what the Guardian has done with the Snowden leaks? I ask this in light of the UK defining Glenn Greenwald's work as terrorism, and the raid on the home of the Washington Times reporter. Thank You.

celestialthots1 karma

I don't work on the national desk so my answer is hardly definitive. But if NPR confirmed the sources and the material, it would probably pursue the story. The wrinkle is that NPR wouldn't risk breaking laws and this story dances all over that line. It's a tough one. We would have the journalistic freedom to do it, but might get prosecuted. The Guardian doesn't have to operate inside US borders.

manofsteele121 karma

What news network, foreign or domestic (including any you've worked for), would you consider to be the most reliable, unbiased news source? Also, how can we curb the drive towards sensationalism and partisanship in our media?

celestialthots2 karma

Whew! That second one is a big question. I think the answer is that it was the commercialization of news that caused the problem in the first place. As soon as news became a commodity that had to turn a profit, news management started choosing reporters and stories that would generate more ad dollars. If we want better news coverage as a society, then we have to make it a public service again. That's one of the reasons I wanted to use Kickstarter to launch my new show. I really believe that the public should directly fund public radio.

For the first question, I've never worked for a biased organization. Honestly. I've never had a higher-up come and squash a story because it might offend a political party or corporation. It's never happened.

manofsteele121 karma

Well, that second part is good to hear. Ever hear of something similar happening to a coworker/reporter for another network?

I didn't watch your Kickstarter video until you just mentioned it, but I really like the idea of what you're doing. Thanks for what you do and for taking the time to answer my questions!

celestialthots2 karma

I have heard of several colleagues encountering interference at other networks and even local public radio stations.

And thanks for checking out the video! We need all the buzz we can get, so pass it on.

ghostassrape1 karma

Hi! Recently governments around the world started cracking down on reporters and journalists. Giving the growing trend where do you see the future for reporting? Do you think it will all need to be government approved, or do you think we will restore the freedom of the press rights? Thanks

celestialthots1 karma

Bless you for asking this. You know who's become a fierce fighter for press freedom? John Cusack. So bless him, too.

It's totally unconstitutional and dangerous to our democracy to pursue journalists legally or even threaten them for doing their jobs. It's intimidation and it should stop.

ghostassrape1 karma

Giving the growing trend where do you see the future for reporting? Do you think it will all need to be government approved, or do you think we will restore the freedom of the press rights? Thanks

celestialthots1 karma

I think people tend to overplay their hand, including the government. The shutdown is a great example of people feeling confident enough to really push something and then pushing it too far. With all the backlash on press crackdowns, and the anger toward Congress, I think it will all swing back toward greater protection of the press.

Not if the press continues to screw it up, though, and broadcast flat-out wrong information.

Delrace0 karma

Would you ever cross over to the private news world (i.e. Juan Williams going to Fox)? Or are you more of a public radio idealogue?

celestialthots2 karma

I am a bit of an idealogue, but I would do commercial broadcasting if I didn't have to cover Miley Cyrus, sensational murder trials and what's trending on Facebook. If I didn't have to interview pundits all the time and keep the segments down to 2 minutes a piece.

window5-1 karma

Can you appreciate that many conservatives see NPR as a propaganda vehicle for the democrat party? The economics of radio nowadays is that you have to have public funding to keep an information based radio station on the air. And the democrats control the funding. And now you are taking a national NPR show that targets republican states. Let me guess - you favor more immigrants being moved into republican states to dilute the voting majority of the current population?

celestialthots11 karma

What? I have to assume that you don't listen to a lot of public radio. I know many people assume it's left-leaning, but it's just not true. We work really, really hard to include voices from all over the political spectrum and to fact check our reporting.

Also, I couldn't care less how the states in the middle of the country vote. On the other hand, I think people make assumptions about states like Montana and Alabama that simply aren't true. Also, how can you have an honest conversation about guns without including the states where most gun owners live?

FYI, I'm not a Democrat. In case you made that assumption.

window5-5 karma

interview this guy on your show: But you will not. What he has to say does not conform to the democrat/national media playbook.

celestialthots2 karma

I would suggest you listen to this examination of the issue if you're really interested in discovering whether or not NPR has a liberal bias.

But I can tell you that we don't. Reporters in general don't always like politicians because they give you talking points instead of answers, but that goes for ALL politicians, not just the ones in one party or another.

A lot of us are still irritated with Clinton for deregulating media and allowing new sources to be consolidated into the hands of a few large corporate entities:

ibcooley-2 karma

How much of the reporting is 100% reporting, and how much is skewed for dramatic purposes?

celestialthots2 karma

I'm not sure what that means -- "skewed for dramatic purposes." I don't know of anyone who has ever staged something. If they did and people found out, they'd be fired. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.