September 21, 2007
Andi Sporkin, NPR
Emily Hellewell, NPR
ALICIA SHEPARD NAMED OMBUDSMAN, NPR
Washington, D.C.; September 21, 2007 - Journalist, author, media critic and educator Alicia C. Shepard has been named Ombudsman for NPR, it was announced today by Kevin Klose, President, NPR. She joins NPR on October 2 and will report to Klose.
In 2000, NPR was the first U.S. broadcast news organization to create an Ombudsman position. The post, with a two-year appointment, serves as the public’s representative, responsible for bringing transparency to journalism decision-making processes. The NPR Ombudsman receives more than 75,000 listener inquiries annually and responds to significant queries, comments and criticisms. She will also continue the Ombudsman column on www.NPR.org, appear on NPR programs and provide guidance on journalism practices to NPR Member stations.
“Since its launch, NPR has had a constant, direct and thoughtful dialogue with its audience, and the role of the Ombudsman has served as a natural extension of that critical connection,” said Klose. “In only seven years since the position was created, the media and media criticism have evolved. Alicia offers a multifaceted understanding of journalism practices, and skill in communicating them, that will enable us now to advance the role of the Ombudsman and broaden its responsibilities to reflect new levels of public interest in our work and our profession.”
Shepard brings a strong portfolio in analyzing and explaining journalism and media policy. She is currently teaching a graduate-level course in Media Ethics at Georgetown University and writing a chapter on the media for the Center for Public Integrity’s forthcoming book, “The Buying of the President.” She has also served as a journalism instructor at American University and the University of Texas.
From 1993 to 2002, Shepard was a principal contributor to the American Journalism Review on such topics as ethics and the newspaper industry. Her work was recognized three times with the National Press Club’s top media criticism prize. For the past four years, she has contributed to the New York Times, Washingtonian magazine, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newark Star Ledger and Washington Post. From 1982 to 1987, she was a staff reporter with the San Jose (CA) Mercury News.
Her book, “Woodward & Bernstein: Life in the Shadow of Watergate” (2006, Wiley), chronicles the lives of the two journalists during and after their landmark investigation. In four years of research and writing, she interviewed more than 175 people and examined the new archival materials at the University of Texas. She is the co-author of “Running Toward Danger: Stories Behind the Breaking News of 9/11” (2002), about how journalists covered the tragedy and the public roles they played.
Shepard holds a B.A. in English from George Washington University and received a M.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland.