News & Notes was the only black issues program on National Public Radio, and it's been axed, along with Day to Day. (NPR):

"It's a very difficult time for us all, but NPR is not exempt, unfortunately, from the recession that has covered our country in the last several months," Dennis Haarsager, NPR's interim president and CEO, said at its corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. "We simply must react to it in a responsible way — and that's what we've tried to do."

The two shows will go off the air on March 20, and 22 journalists working for them will lose their jobs, including hosts Madeleine Brand and Farai Chideya. The shows are both based in Culver City, Calif., at NPR West, a major satellite operation.

Day to Day was designed as a midday complement to mainstays Morning Edition and All Things Considered, while News and Notes, a successor to The Tavis Smiley Show, was intended to draw more African-American listeners. Beyond the two shows, another 12 journalists will lose their jobs throughout NPR News.

It's unfortunate, given we're about to inaugurate a black president and we lose an outlet on NPR that gave voice to the black community on those stations -- intelligent perspectives are sorely needed in the MSM, and News & Notes would have enabled more healthy discussion in the progressive community by reaching those listeners. There is a good article about the history of black programming at NPR here.

I had the pleasure of being on News & Notes only once, this past May, to discuss minority representation among bloggers going to the Democratic National Convention and the inability of the GOP to recruit minority candidates.

Baratunde Thurston at Jack & Jill Politics:

News & Notes has been an absolutely wonderful, intelligent and fun outlet to listen to and be a part of. I’ve been on the show over 10 times since the summer of 2007 (and will be on next Wednesday Dec 17th) , and it has certainly contributed to the audience and credibility of Jack & Jill Politics. We’re like family. In fact, the weekly Blogger Roundtable was a truly innovative segment on a show that already had some of the best coverage of black issues of any major media outlet. Because of News & Notes, our own blogroll has expanded, and I’ve had a chance to meet and work with some impressive voices. So many old school media outlets don’t get how to work with technology, social media and the youngins, but News & Notes pulled it off effectively without exploiting or compromising these emerging voices.

...In the grand, new age of Obama, this is happening? This past year, we at Jack and Jill Politics and the broader Afrosphere had to work triple time to try to inject some sanity into the media conversation about race. Suddenly Wolf Blitzer and crew had to say something, anything, about race, and they didn’t know where to start because they lacked the lived experience, empathy or education to say anything useful. With Obama headed for the White House, the supply of ignorant racial media discourse will only grow.

This recession is going to have a huge impact on all organizations living off of corporate support and donations from members, as well as endowments, if they had any (the latter took a big hit at NPR with the stock market crash). NPR is laying off veteran journalists -- half of the 64 axed are reporters. News & Notes's Farai Chideya's letter to listeners is here.

Hat tip, Jack & Jill Politics.