KGOU

This is KGOU

How we do what we do

This space includes commentary from the NPR Ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen, the public's representative to NPR who serves as an independent source regarding NPR's programming.

As an illustrator at NPR, my work includes creating editorial illustrations for news stories, photo illustrations for the NPR Music team, looping animations for smart displays, and the occasional journalistic drawing foray out in Washington, D.C.

A listener wrote: "What ethical calculus has been used to decide that NPR will broadcast POTUS live?"

He was referring to President Trump's Oval Office address tonight, his first from that venue. It is expected to be on the topic of immigration and his demand, as part of the negotiations to end the partial government shutdown, for funding for some kind of barrier on the southwest border.

NPR's use of temporary employees has been in the news, prompting questions to the Ombudsman Office.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, along with the broader questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election, are among the most pressing stories of the moment. They also are viewed through highly partisan lenses.

For those reasons (as well as for basic journalistic ones), NPR needs to get the story right. Yet for the second time this month, NPR has had to walk back a published report on the topic.

All world leaders and high-profile public figures leave behind complicated legacies, even the great ones. For three major deaths in a row (former President George H.W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and religious leader Billy Graham) the Ombudsman Office has heard from unhappy listeners who feel NPR's coverage has skewed toward the laudatory, while overlooking flaws in the person's legacy.

"Moving too quickly" has caused NPR errors in the past. It happened again last Friday, only this time the consequences were greater than simply looking silly by mistaking the details of Easter.

NPR's chief executive, Jarl Mohn, announced Tuesday that he would step aside next June at the end of his five-year term to focus on a newly created position to lead the public radio network's fundraising drive ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2020.

Mohn announced that he and his wife, Pamela, would also contribute $10 million toward the effort.

"I've had a chance to work at some great companies. But this has been the most important and rewarding thing I've done in my career," Mohn said in a telephone interview. "It really has been remarkable."

Even a public editor needs a week's break.

The Ombudsman Office is here to provide a voice in the newsroom for NPR listeners and readers. As I recently reported to NPR's board of directors, in the last year (November to November) that meant reading (and sharing with the newsroom, when appropriate) some 6,000 of your emails and countless tweets.

A few weeks back, a reader wrote the Ombudsman Office with "a small simple gripe." He had a thought about a story and wanted to get a comment to the NPR journalist who wrote it. He couldn't figure out a way to do that, noting that he uses no social media channels. "I e-mail, that's all."

He concluded: "Please allow for some sort of 'contact via email' access."

Having a diverse newsroom is crucial if NPR wants to tell stories that matter to an increasingly diverse country. For that reason, in each year of my tenure I have requested the newsroom staff diversity statistics from NPR's human resources department. Numbers don't tell the whole story, of course, but they offer one way to keep NPR's progress (or lack of significant progress in recent years) front and center.

The dumbest newsmaker quotes, the most "are you kidding me??" stories, our favorite Not My Job guests.

It's the very best of the first 20 years of Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! featuring Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell, Bill Kurtis, Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca, and the rest of your favorite panelists.

The 2018 midterm elections are less than a week away. Jammed into that short span, President Trump has scheduled another ten of his usually raucous rallies in support of Republican candidates.

Acting VP for News Programming Sarah Gilbert announced that Kenya Young has officially become the Executive Producer of Morning Edition, almost a year after she stepped into the acting position last November.

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to share the news that Kenya Young today officially becomes the Executive Producer for Morning Edition

Today NPR announced the hiring of Sacha Pfeiffer and Cheryl W. Thompson as correspondents of its Investigations Team. Read more below in an note shared with newsroom staff by Robert Little, Edith Chapin, and Christopher Turpin.

We have news about important changes on the Investigations Team. The team is getting some new faces. Also, as part of our effort to deepen our commitment to reporting of depth, consequence and originality, we are creating a new opportunity for more journalists in the newsroom to work on investigative projects.

In June, the editor who oversees NPR's standards and practices, Mark Memmott, laid out what I called an "ambitious" goal: to halve the number of monthly mistakes. At that point, NPR was posting corrections at a rate of about 100 a month, which he called "unacceptable."

A new newsroom system was put in place. Memmott set a target date of October.

NPR's annual Thanksgiving recitation of the recipe for Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish is coming up, and we need your help.

Susan Stamberg always says her mother-in-law's recipe sounds terrible — but tastes terrific. In addition to cranberries and sugar, it includes onion, sour cream and horseradish. It's tangy, cold and roughly the color of Pepto-Bismol (but, mercifully, not the flavor).

The tail end of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination process released a powerful next phase in the #MeToo movement, as women poured out their previously untold stories of sexual assault. The political wrangling, meanwhile, provoked a furious, largely partisan, clash.

Two stories entwined, each offering multiple individual threads to explore. NPR's listeners and readers found plenty to praise and also to critique across the 12 hours of live special coverage and extensive newsmagazine and online coverage.

Longstanding NPR policy is to reserve the title of "Dr." for an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, medicine, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine or veterinary medicine.

NPR's Planet Money team specializes in making complex economic stories compelling and understandable. That often means stripping stories down to essentials and using anecdotes as a story device (the "show, not tell" school of journalism). The approach, which is dependent on deep reporting and very precise and tightly constructed storytelling, has worked well for a decade.

NPR newsroom leaders have concluded their investigation into the work of a longtime freelance contributor, Danielle Karson, one month after they said they had discovered she had recycled sound bites in some of her radio reports.

Pages