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Arts & Culture

NPR's Renee Montagne shines at WNED|WBFO studios

It was a conversation that ranged from Paul McCartney to Donald Trump, from Afghanistan to fake news. WNED|WBFO Thursday night welcomed to its studios one of the most familiar voices on National Public Radio, Renee Montagne for "An Evening with Renee Montagne." Audience members said they found her passionate, engaging and familiar, just as she sounds on NPR. The former Morning Edition Host and now Special Correspondent appeared before a full house. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Koteras Elibol
NPR's Renee Montagne on stage with WBFO's Eileen Buckley in the WNED-TV studio Wednesday evening.

WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley asked Montagne about her career. She shared stories from more than 30 years' reporting the world, but also switching roles to answer a wide range of questions from the crowd.

Montagne said reporting to her is giving listeners the opportunity to hear different perspectives. She noted that Morning Edition gained some 1.5 million listeners through the November 2016 elections - in part, she believes, because people choose to hear those alternatives.

She was asked about the recent "fake news" phenomenon.

"We never used to refer to news as 'fact-based' because it was never even a question," she told the audience. "If we start thinking there's no objective truth, then we're in trouble."

Montagne conceded that people who "believe every headline in the National Enquirer" cannot be "argued out of it." However, she said the increase in fake news has encouraged NPR to step up its game.

"We're trying to do an even better job," she said. "Of course it's fact-based journalism. That's what we spend our time doing: making sure we've got the facts. And once you have that, then when you speak about reaching out, it's a little like reaching out to people with other ways of seeing what those facts mean." 

What do you think about Donald Trump's comment that the media is "an enemy of the people?"

"I think the media has been an object of some scorn for a long time, for various reasons not all the media's fault and partly the media's fault," Montagne said. "But I will say this: when these sorts of polls are taken by legitimate polling organizations, NPR does float up there as one of the more respected media organizations."

On the topic of refugees, of those she has known personally, Montagne said they want the same things Americans want - such as education for their children and freedom from persecution and fear.

"I know with Afghans, they don't really want to leave their country. They'd stay if they could," she said. "The people who leave are the people who really, desperately don't think they have a future and probably would spend much of their time, when they've left the country, wishing they could come back. I'm going to take a wild guess that that's true of many, rather, if not most people who flee."

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