This is KGOU

How we do what we do

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

Nancy Barnes started as NPR's senior vice president of news and editorial director in late November, replacing the yearlong interim newsroom leader Christopher Turpin (who replaced the ousted Michael Oreskes). Barnes has been quiet about her priorities for NPR since, citing a desire to listen and learn during her first three months.

Late last week, NPR's Invisibilia podcast released a new hour-long episode on the topic of pain. True to the show's mission to examine "the invisible forces that shape human behavior, our thoughts, our emotions, our expectations," the episode was a complex and thought-provoking exploration of how pain, in the opinion of some, might be related to the attention we pay to it.

Doug Simpson and Jolly Brown

Having KGOU as part of his daily news consumption is important to listener Doug Simpson who visited our Norman studios recently.

Q: Please tell us about yourself.

Doug Simpson: I'm originally from Dayton, Ohio, but I grew up in Illinois as well. I've been here in Oklahoma for about a total of 13 years -- almost 10 years this time. I live in Moore. I'm retired from the Air Force and now work for the Oklahoma Blood Institute.

Claire Donnelly with listener John Sumida
Jolly Brown / KGOU

An Oklahoma transplant from Hawaii, KGOU listener John Sumida likes the different viewpoints and perspectives he gets from public radio.

Q: Please tell us about yourself.

John Sumida: My name is John Sumida and I live in Norman. I grew up in Hawaii. I've lived in Honolulu, Seattle, San Diego and now Norman, and every time I move to a new location that's one of the first things that I do is find the local public radio stations and program them into my radio.

Conscientious journalists try to avoid engaging in false equivalence and spreading misinformation while doing so.

They also try to tell stories fully, respectfully presenting multiple perspectives on the facts — facts being the baseline of all reporting — so listeners can make up their own minds.

They also try to hear directly from the people they are reporting about.

Listener Miranda Conway with Richard Bassett in the KGOU Control Room.
Jolly Brown / KGOU

KGOU listener Miranda Conway was in our Norman studios recently, talking about when and where she listens.

Q: Please tell us about yourself.

Miranda Conway: I’m from Northern California. Growing up in California gave me a love of nature, diversity of culture, and an appreciation for various cuisines. I work at Tinker AFB as a military officer.

When a U.S. president schedules a Rose Garden announcement to talk about declaring a national emergency, it's a pretty safe bet that NPR will carry it live.

That was the case this morning, when NPR started airing "special coverage" of President Trump's declaration of a national emergency in order to help finance a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

NPR Stories That Spread Love

Feb 14, 2019

Digesting the daily news can be an emotionally laborious task in 2019. With this accelerated news cycle, sometimes it's hard to make sense of things, but there still are some stories that bring people together. These are "driveway moments" that leave you listening in the parked car with misty eyes and warm hearts. For this Valentine's Day, here are some of those heartwarming stories, in no particular order, and some insights on how they came about. Grab some tissues and settle in for feelings in 3...2...1.

Will You Be Our Valentine? Love, NPR

Feb 11, 2019

Whether you spend Valentine's day canoodling or preparing to hit up those sweet post-holiday chocolate markdowns, one thing is certain: our love for listeners like you.

We decided to play Cupid this year, so you don't have to go above and beyond for that public radio lover in your life. This Feb. 14th, spread the public media love with these extra special Valentines.

Maybe your love is a fan of Planet Money; luck has nothing to do with this equation.

NPR rolled out its labor-intensive process of almost simultaneous fact-checking on Tuesday night for President Trump's State of the Union speech. It also checked Stacey Abrams' Democratic response.

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Throughline, the newest addition to NPR's podcast roster, provides the history we sometimes forget — or didn't know in the first place — of events in the news and ideas dominating our national conversations.

An announcement from NPR today is sure to make at least a couple of listeners and readers happy: NPR has changed the official title of my job to "Public Editor," from "Ombudsman."

Like other news outlets, NPR has been criticized for its coverage of the confrontation last Friday, Jan. 18, on the Washington, D.C. mall, near the Lincoln Memorial. That's when three groups of protesters intersected: a handful of protesters known as Black Hebrew Israelites; some attendees of the Indigenous People's March; and a group of Catholic high school students from Kentucky, who were waiting for a bus after taking part in the anti-abortion March for Life. Some of the latter wore "Make America Great Again" hats.

A Dec. 17 report on All Things Considered about the Indian Child Welfare Act prompted harsh criticism from the Native American Journalists Association, which called it "inaccurate and imprecise." A meeting between NAJA leaders and NPR editors resulted in a clarification being posted on the online version of the piece, but NAJA members continued to have concerns about the reporting.

Wait, Wait... It's on My Smart Speaker!

Jan 17, 2019

NPR's Trivia Show Is Now an Interactive Game

Have you always wanted to call into 'Wait Wait Don't Tell Me,' but didn't want to embarrass yourself or your family? Well, now you can play along with Peter and Bill without risk to your reputation thanks to NPR's new Wait Wait Quiz for smart speakers.

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.