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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.

NPR's Senior Vice President of News appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday January 1st, where he shared his New Year's resolutions for the media:

Algorithms are a crucial part of how the news reaches you in a digital world. But we know many people find them opaque and controversial. Filter Bubble is an expression coined to capture the way an algorithm can measure what you like and just feed you more and more of that until all you get is one perspective.

We want to raise the curtain and explain how we use an algorithm at NPR One.

It's rare that my office gets a complaint about the Friday StoryCorps segments on Morning Edition. The excerpts of interviews conducted between friends and loved ones (no NPR host or reporter involved) are most often poignant windows into other people's realities, as they discuss their life struggles, loves and journeys.

About The Ombudsman

Dec 14, 2016

What is an Ombudsman/Public Editor?

Navigating Newscasts at NPR

Dec 9, 2016

"Live from NPR News..." it's the NPR newscast, the short broadcast of news reports on local NPR member stations, starring some of NPR's most recognized names, including Korva Coleman, Lakshmi Singh and friends.

By any measure, the story that has been unfolding in North Dakota along the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline since April is extraordinary. Thousands of people led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have gathered for months in largely peaceful protest against the $3.8 billion oil pipeline's route, arguing that it infringes on tribal lands and could put at risk their water supply, and that the tribe was not properly consulted in the planning process.

The news Sunday afternoon that Steve Bannon had been named chief strategist in President-elect Donald Trump's White House sparked renewed interest in a topic NPR covered this summer, the rise of the white nationalist movement, also referred to euphemistically as the "alt-right."

A week after the election, the Ombudsman inbox is still fielding a heavy influx of emails with audience opinions about NPR's presidential campaign journalism. Many of the emails have been vitriolic, a reflection of hard-felt voter emotions, no doubt.

During the second presidential candidate debate, on Oct. 9, Republican candidate Donald Trump singled out one of his guests, a woman named Kathy Shelton.

Here's Trump: "One of the women, who is a wonderful woman, at 12 years old, was raped — at 12. Her client she represented, got him off. And she's seen laughing on two separate occasions — laughing at the girl who was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman, is here with us tonight."

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, then Hillary Rodham, was the lawyer he referred to as laughing at the victim.

Recent mail to the Ombudsman's inbox has overwhelmingly been about NPR's recent political coverage, but every once in a while, we get a familiar, nonpolitical question. We've answered a few of the most common questions here.

Skype

Four years ago, my predecessor, Edward Schumacher-Matos, wrote about listener unhappiness concerning NPR's conversations with ordinary voters, or what is known in journalism as "person on the street" interviews or vox pops. Similar criticisms have been rolling in to the Ombudsman mailbox in recent weeks.

My office has spent many recent hours responding to readers and listeners who believe NPR has not covered, or covered enough, the ongoing release of hacked emails allegedly taken from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. In fact, NPR has covered the content of the emails fairly extensively (and that coverage has brought its own complaints from listeners and readers who believe the email revelations are relatively unimportant compared to other issues bubbling up in the presidential race, or policy discussions).

NPR Sees Large Ratings Increase

Oct 19, 2016

Tuesday October 18; Washington D.C. - Across the board, NPR's multiplatform journalism has seen a tremendous audience growth. NPR's radio broadcasts, podcasts, and digital reporting have all reached new heights in 2016.

"NPR's increased ratings and digital engagement can be attributed to first rate journalism, riveting storytelling, revamped newsmagazines, live reporting, and better user platforms," said Jarl Mohn, president and CEO of NPR. "And that means we are all doing a far better job of our public service mission, community engagement and local impact.

How would you describe, in brief, the conversation Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump had in 2005 with then-Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush, a recording of which was leaked to the Washington Post last Friday?

Oklahoma Engaged: A Preview Of Capitol Hill

Oct 12, 2016
Josh Robinson / Oklahoma Engaged

For weeks now, KGOU and KOSU have been unveiling stories on voter participation and the Oklahoma ballot in advance of the November 8 election.

The collaborative project, Oklahoma Engaged, examines and explains ballot measures and key political races with an emphasis on voter apathy, changing demographics and other factors impacting voter turnout.

Reporting, analysis and commentary — those are the three predominant types of content NPR's newsroom offers listeners and readers. Reporting and analysis make up most of what the newsroom puts out. However, it is the very small category of commentary (and political commentary, specifically, since that makes up the majority of NPR commentary at the moment) that is driving an outsized number of complaints to the Ombudsman office this election season.

Scientific American reported last week on the disturbing practice known as a "close-hold embargo," where reporters are given advance access to an upcoming news-making announcement on the condition that they not seek outside perspective until the embargo is lifted.

"When is the deadline to register to vote in the general election?"

"What races will be on my ballot?"

"Can I vote early, or by mail?"

These are the kinds of questions answered by the 2016 Oklahoma Voter Guide, published by a partnership of news media, including KGOU, and nonprofit organizations. The guide is a non-partisan resource to help Oklahoma voters know who and what will be on the ballot Nov. 8. The League of Women Voters of Oklahoma and the Kirkpatrick Foundation spearheaded the effort.

NPR listeners and readers have said they want fact-checking during this political campaign season and NPR responded with what I found to be a very impressive new offering Monday night: a close to real-time annotation of a transcript of the first televised debate between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

My office is tracking NPR's candidate coverage, online and on its morning and evening newsmagazines, in response to requests from listeners. From Sept. 11 through Sept. 24, there were 42 stories focused primarily on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, compared with 34 stories focused mostly on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was the main focus of one story during that period.

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