Vivian Luisa Schiller (born September 13, 1961) is the former president and CEO of National Public Radio, and former head of news and journalism partnerships at Twitter. She is also the former senior vice president and chief digital officer for NBC News, including oversight of NBCNews.com.
Schiller is the daughter of Ronald Schiller, a former editor at Reader's Digest, and Lillian Schiller of Larchmont, New York. She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor's degree in Russian studies and Soviet studies, and a Master's degree in Russian from Middlebury College.
Prior to leading NPR, Schiller was a senior vice president of NYTimes.com. She was the first general manager of Discovery Times Channel (now Investigation Discovery), from 2002 - 2006. Earlier, she served as senior vice president of CNN Productions. Schiller began her career as a simultaneous Russian interpreter in the former Soviet Union, which led her to documentary production work for Turner Broadcasting.
Juan Williams controversy
On October 20, 2010, NPR fired political analyst Juan Williams. Initial reports indicated Williams was fired for his comments on Fox News that he gets "nervous" when he sees people in "Muslim garb" boarding a plane. Speaking to the media, Schiller stated Williams was not fired for that particular incident, but for offering his controversial opinions on several occasions, which she deemed a breach of journalistic ethics for an NPR analyst.
Schiller then intensified the existing controversy over Williams' dismissal when she added that Williams should have kept his Muslim comments between himself and "his psychiatrist or his publicist—take your pick." Schiller quickly retracted her own remarks, stating, "I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark."
Juan Williams, appearing soon after on Fox News Channel "The O'Reilly Factor" noted in his own defense that other journalist staff members of NPR had previously voiced their own personal opinions and observations without their being reprimanded or terminated. Williams speculated that his termination was occasioned by his frequent appearances on Fox News Channel programs in general, and not by any individual remarks he may have made.
In January 2011, due to concerns with the "speed and handling of the termination process" of Juan Williams, the NPR board decided to deny Schiller a 2010 bonus in addition to accepting the resignation of Ellen Weiss, the news executive responsible for Williams's dismissal. At the same time, the board "expressed confidence in Vivian Schiller's leadership going forward."
Resignation From NPR
In March 2011, Vivian Schiller resigned as president and chief executive of National Public Radio amid controversy surrounding a former NPR fundraising executive who derided the "tea party" movement as a collection of "gun-toting" racists and "fundamentalist Christians" who have "hijacked" the Republican Party. Her departure was, in part, an attempt to show congressional budget-cutters that NPR could hold itself accountable.
On March 9, 2011, the NPR Board of Directors announced that they had officially accepted the resignation of Schiller. The resignation was a consequence of a secretly taped sting interview given by NPR employee Ronald Schiller, who is not related to Vivian Schiller. Dave Edwards, Chair of the NPR Board of Directors, sent the following message to the NPR staff regarding the resignation: "It is with deep regret that I tell you that the NPR Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO of NPR, effective immediately. The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years." She was succeeded on an interim basis by Joyce Slocum, the senior vice president of Legal Affairs and General Counsel.
In February 2013, Schiller closed the NBC News-owned site EveryBlock, saying it "wasn't a strategic fit."  Schiller was widely criticized for her handling of the situation, as the site was turned off one morning with no prior warning and providing no access to archives.
Schiller was also criticized for not making a good-faith effort to sell the site before closing it. On the day the site was closed, Schiller said "We looked at various options to keep this going, but none of them were viable." Several days after the site had shut down, she said "we are continuing to look into options very seriously." EveryBlock founder Adrian Holovaty said she "poisoned the pie before trying to sell it."
- "The Next Wave: 10 Women to Watch in Media" 133 (42). Broadcasting & Cable. 2003-10-20. p. 16.
- "Vivian Schiller, NPR Biography". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Vivian Schiller, Twitter's Head of News, Steps Down". Mashable. 2014-10-08.
- "Vivian Schiller Wed in Atlanta". The New York Times. 1992-03-29. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Talk to The Times: Senior Vice President and General Manager, NYTimes.com". The New York Times. 2008-08-31. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- Reynolds, Mike (2006-04-24). "Sign of the Times for Schiller". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- Biography @ All Things D
- Thielman, Sam (2011-06-02). "Vivian Schiller joins NBC News". Variety. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- Andy Barr (21 October 2010). "Juan Williams fired by NPR". Politico. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
- Brett Zongker (21 October 2010). "NPR axes, Fox defends Williams over Muslim remarks". Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
- Mark Memmott (21 October 2010). "NPR CEO: Williams' Views Should Stay Between Himself And 'His Psychiatrist'". NPR. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
- James Rainey (7 January 2011). "Top NPR official stepping down". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- Oliphant, James (2011-03-10). "NPR president's resignation fuels foes of public broadcasting funding". Los Angeles Times.
- Adams, Russell (2011-03-09). "NPR Executive Cedes New Role at Aspen Institute". The Wall Street Journal.
- Jensen, Elizabeth; Stelter, Brian (2011-03-09). "NPR Chief Resigns Amid Latest Imbroglio". The New York Times.
- Memmott, Mark. "NPR CEO Vivian Schiller Resigns". National Public Radio Blog. National Public Radio. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- Lyons, Patrick (2011-03-09). "Chief Executive of NPR Resigns". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Sonderman, Jeff (2013-02-07). "NBC closes hyperlocal, data-driven publishing pioneer EveryBlock". Poynter. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- "Farewell, neighbors". 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- "EveryBlock Closes Without Warning to the Shock and Ire of Its Audience". 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- Sonderman, Jeff (2013-02-11). "EveryBlock could still be sold, says Schiller, after abrupt closing of hyperlocal pioneer". Poynter. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
|President and CEO of National Public Radio