NPR’s Andy Carvin, reporter or participant in Libya’s war?

NPR executive Andy Carvin has become prominent for his activities on Twitter during the recent revolts in the Middle East and North Africa. But what is his role? Is he a journalist or a participant?

Last night, he was monitoring events from English speakers ostensibly in Libya.

LibyaInMe, one of the people he follows, was very explicit about a perceived connection between Twitter sourced information and NATO bombings.

Carvin made explicit analogies to past crimes against humanity.

This group of English speaking users celebrated Carvin’s interventions:

Carvin acknowledged the thanks.

What exactly is he being thanked for? His support for NATO intervention and his work to identify bombing targets? Or journalism?

The troubling thing is that Andy Carvin doesn’t appear to do any journalism. Nor is reporting part of his job description at NPR.

Carvin has already been at the center of controversy about his role moderating an Obama administration “strategic communications” event after the president’s Middle East speech.

The neutrality of Carvin’s role is highly questionable. It is difficult to imagine anyone from NPR engaging in similar – apparently symbiotic – interactions with, say, Palestinians organizing protests against Israel and surviving in their job.