Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth

October 31, 2013

Confirmed: NPR has offered me a buyout.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 8:11 am

Earlier this fall, NPR announced it would offer buyouts for staff to help balance the company’s budget by reducing the workforce by about 10%. Surprising even myself, I must admit, I threw my hat into the ring. Last Friday, I learned NPR has accepted my buyout request.

Here’s how it works. I’ve got until early December to accept the buyout or change my mind. If I change my mind, I’ll stay as senior strategist at NPR’s social media desk. If I accept the buyout, my job at NPR is expected to wrap up at the end of December.

What will I do after that? That’s a question I can’t answer yet, because I haven’t made any decisions. I’ve had the honor of serving at NPR for seven years, and while it’ll be hard to top that, no doubt there many exciting opportunities out there worth exploring. Would love to hear all of your thoughts on what I should tackle next.


  1. Open an Etsy store, bedazzling phones with politically charged slogans. Like “Arab Spring? More Like Arab Sprung!”

    I have no idea here, I really don’t. Love your work, love your passion for storytelling. Whatever you do, sure it’s gonna be a hoot to watch.

    Comment by Gary Owen — October 31, 2013 @ 8:16 am

  2. Be very interested in what you do decide to do – the amount of influence you have achieved must be hard to let go of…

    Comment by Toby — October 31, 2013 @ 8:25 am

  3. Why not take a defined amount of time to throw yourself into an entrepreneurial journalism experiment? If the terms of your buyout are such that you will have some security for your family, it is an ideal time to attempt something bold. Nobody has yet figured out a sustainable path for quality news journalism. Why not give it a shot?

    One crazy idea: Package local investigative and beat reporting with global connectivity. The business model? Subsidize everything with superb sports coverage (really!). Try it here in Baltimore. The insanity for the Ravens and Orioles is probably enough to drive revenue to pay for a small number of superb journalists to do their thing.

    Comment by Andrew Hazlett — October 31, 2013 @ 8:29 am

  4. NPR is like you said, hard to top. Stick with it and enjoy other creative outlets on the side. Everyone has this grass is greener mentality, when the reality is, if you know you have it good, why throw it out the window for something that might not be? If you have an alternative already then the buyout would be a phenomenal opportunity. If not, wait for an actual one to present itself. With that said, maybe putting your openness out there will bring one your way.

    Comment by Nicole Erwin — October 31, 2013 @ 8:54 am

  5. +1 to Andrew Hazlett’s suggestion. I’ll add that we’d love your help shaping Groundsource to meet your standards, and scale it globally.

    Comment by Andrew Haeg — October 31, 2013 @ 9:03 am

  6. If you jump at it, I’d think you could pull together a team and funding to do pretty much anything in journalism or social media. The question I’d ask is, in everything you did, what need did you have most consistently in regrad to tools, coverage or resources and whatever that is, perhaps now is the time to build it.

    Comment by Aram Zucker-Scharff — October 31, 2013 @ 9:08 am

  7. I second what Hazlett said. Do something new and exciting with all that influence and expertise you’ve accumulated. I, for one, eagerly await whatever next big thing you finally do decide to move on to.

    Comment by sammiejoe — October 31, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  8. As a digital director at an NPR member station, I selfishly wish for you to change your mind. (pretty please?)

    Comment by Mack — October 31, 2013 @ 9:27 am

  9. Take a sabbatical! You’ve been burning yourself out for years. Don’t make any decisions for 3 months, and then see what surfaces.

    Comment by Jessica Clark — October 31, 2013 @ 9:35 am

  10. I second the idea of “entrepreneurial journalism experiment”. But only if the buyout makes it a safer experiment for you and your family. Seize this opportunity to stretch boundaries of what digital journalism is.

    One of the biggest jobs left to do is figuring out new business models in media. Especially ones for small markets aka small Towns. By using Lean Startup methodology you, and some partners, could figure this out I am sure of it.

    Good luck! I’m sure you’ll rock at what ever you take on.

    Comment by BrianR — October 31, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  11. Hi Andy – I think that NPR offers an important platform and through your efforts, has been one of the more forward thinking media organizations. I would say stay and keep building in every area that interests you.

    We first met through the Digital Divide Network all those years ago, and I hold the lunch we had while I was at Thirteen/WNET as one of the best things that happened during my time there. Just keep on connecting people and ideas.

    All the Best,


    Comment by Paul Mondesire — October 31, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  12. Like Nicole said. Stick it out at NPR unless something sweet comes your way in the interim. Pitch in with the entrepreneurs as much as you can. You have a great professional brand, keep building it in everything you do. I’m sure a number of startups would love to have you but are you doing what you love now? “Entrepreneur” is a fancy word for really working your tail off often with no pay. True we need innovators right now. If you feel drawn to create something new, wirk on your idea while you still have a paycheck.

    Comment by Sally duros — October 31, 2013 @ 10:20 am

  13. Think Tank! Duh!

    Comment by J — October 31, 2013 @ 10:20 am

  14. [...] writes on his blog today that he hasn’t decided whether to take the deal, although he sounds as though his time at NPR [...]

    Pingback by NPR’s ‘news DJ’ may be next to go in staff cuts | NewsCut | Minnesota Public Radio News — October 31, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  15. I agree about the journalism entrepreneurial adventure. There a couple of startups / groups in the District working on this and taking your talents and passion to one of them would be a win win win.

    Comment by Nelson — October 31, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  16. Return to the ITVS board?

    Comment by Garry Denny — October 31, 2013 @ 11:09 am

  17. Have you considered Al Jazeera? Happy to chat with you if you have any interest.

    Comment by Ben Connors — October 31, 2013 @ 11:35 am

  18. Do you want to stay in the area? That’s the first decision. How much of a chance do you want to take? How much do you and your family need to live the way you want?

    One thing that immediately comes to mind: teach. You have a lot of life experience as a social media journalist. Colleges need to be “training” young people on the new parameters of journalism.

    Even more interesting, teach high school! What an incredible chance to teach young people. I’ve seen my children “turned on” to a wide variety of subjects because their teachers were interesting, provocative, and challenged them to think outside the box (Andy, we desperately need people who are willing to think outside that box.)

    Just some thoughts.


    Comment by Jeff — October 31, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

  19. What you are asking for, could really be a tell for what is next.

    What’s the old adage?

    “When seeking money, ask for advice. When seeking advice, ask for money.”

    Looking forward to whatever you do next, Andy.

    Comment by Ted Tagami — October 31, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

  20. I’d very much prefer to stay in the area. My kids are doing great in the local MoCo public schools, and given my daughter’s severe ADHD, it’d be really hard to build up the support network needed from scratch. I could definitely see myself commuting on occasion – a couple days a week in NYC, a visit to the west coast every month, etc. But if at all possible I’d like to keep my roots in the DC area.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

  21. Heh. Consider the idea thunk.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

  22. In theory it’s a good idea. It’s certainly the safe idea. Trust me, I’ve thought about that a lot over the last month. That’s why I haven’t ruled out staying 100% yet. Having said that, though, I really need a change. There are lots of things out there I think I’d love to do, and I don’t think most of them would be possible if I stayed where I was.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

  23. There’s a good reason I’ve never begun a startup. I don’t know if my heart would be in it. Having quality time with my family has been the top priority of my career, so there are paths I could’ve taken that could’ve been exciting, but not at the expense of seeing my wife and kids. Having said that, though, I’m fearful of stagnating and becoming complacent. I don’t want that to happen. So a new job doesn’t necessarily need to translate to me becoming some dude with a startup. All I know is that it’s time to shake up the status quo.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  24. Best idea so far. I’d really love to take some time off. I just need to figure out if I can do it. NPR will continue to pay me through the end of next summer, but I’m on my own as far as healthcare is concerned. And I’d likely start going into the red really quickly if I took too long of a break and had to deal with COBRA/Obamacare/whatever. So that’s definitely keeping my brainstorming grounded in reality.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

  25. I’m not going off the grid, Mack. :-) Even if I leave public media, public media will leave me. I’ll still be around. :-)

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

  26. I’ve thought a lot about that. There are a number of tools I’d love to see built. I just don’t know if I’m enough of a startup kind of guy to go that particular path. My gut tells me no. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t set out creating them. It’d just have to be in an environment that makes sense for me.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

  27. This definitely isn’t about the grass being greener on the other side. My creative outlets are my kids, my dogs and cats. Between that and work, it’s double a full-time job. And you’re also assuming all is green on my side of the tracks. No job is a panacea; they have their good parts and bad parts. I just don’t want to reach a point where the latter overtakes the former.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

  28. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “security.” Based on the terms, I’d receive a paycheck into the summer. It’s not a lump sum, and healthcare isn’t included. So basically it’d be like my paycheck now, but with healthcare costs two or three times as high due to COBRA. So whatever I do next, I need to be sure there’s enough structure to it that I don’t put my family in a serious bind.

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

  29. Melody Kramer and I were just talking about this. I could specialize in knitting famous Storifies that you could hang in your kitchen. #win

    Comment by Andy Carvin — October 31, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  30. Congratulations on making it to where you are and having these options! I’m impressed by how publicly you’re making this decision, another illustration of your authenticity that has given you a well-deserved following.

    It looks like you’re thinking about this in the right way and being cautious regarding advice to “do a startup.” If there’s a problem that you’re passionate about solving and you lose sleep thinking about it, then it makes sense to take the leap. Only then will you have the motivation to succeed, which takes a lot of work and sacrifice.

    Comment by Burt Herman — October 31, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

  31. Andy, you have truly been an innovator and done things your own way thus far. I agree with others that you should try as hard as you can to take a few months completely offline and smell the roses (or anything other than a laptop and smartphone).

    After that, if you are considering something newish, startup-y, I think creating a team of Andy Carvins who curate and pull news from Twitter as events unfold would be a worthwhile endeavor, either as an independent news service, part of a larger news org or even within Twitter. I would be happy to be an advisor or help in any way because I think it’s an important idea whose time has come.

    But whatever you do, I’m sure you will be successful as long as you’re doing something you enjoy and that’s fulfilling. Best of luck!

    Comment by Mark Glaser — October 31, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  32. With your talents Andy, I look forward to hearing about thr next chapter. Huzzah!

    Comment by Tom White — October 31, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

  33. Seems like Circa would be a perfect fit for ya!

    Comment by Evan T. — October 31, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

  34. We’d certainly love to have a chat. Happy to share our data points from three years of building an editorial workflow start-up (Camayak).

    Comment by Roman Heindorff — October 31, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

  35. Write the NuevoDads handbook!

    Comment by Josh Meyer — October 31, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  36. We don’t have a unique idea for you at the moment, but we believe your future endeavors (NPR or elsewhere) will be fruitful and BRIGHT…somewhere in the stratosphere. We appreciate you for being such a family oriented and down-to-earth “good guy.” We respect your skills, intelligence, and warm wit. Follow your dream. We’ll follow and support you anywhere!

    Comment by Mary and Mike — November 2, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

  37. Bring us an idea at Global Voices! We’re most fun to work with.

    Comment by Solana — November 19, 2013 @ 5:45 am

  38. Don’t leave a paying gig unless you have another paying gig lined up.

    Comment by Stephen Downes — November 29, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

  39. I will continue to follow Andy Carvin …>>>>

    Comment by sej — November 29, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

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