November 7, 2013 NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson is also a contributor to Fox News. Some listeners complain that she has a conservative bias. A review of her work through the contentious political fighting over Syria, the government shutdown, debt default, and health care reform, finds otherwise. She's a remarkably cold-eyed analyst.
September 16, 2013 Images on Al Jazeera of brutalized Americans in Iraq understandably still trouble some listeners, but NPR's acceptance of sponsorship support from the new Al Jazeera America fall well within free speech and ethical standards. Al Jazeera itself brings a valuable international voice into our living rooms.
September 6, 2013 Republicans invented the term "Obamacare" as a way to denigrate the Affordable Care Act. NPR's hosts and reporters now commonly use the term, prompting the ire of some listeners. Is NPR "letting Fox drive the narrative," as one wrote?
August 14, 2013 Here are some preliminary responses to your comments on the ombudsman process, on sourcing and on the length of my review of an NPR investigation into foster care for Native American children in South Dakota. Many of you wondered what NPR should do next. That is not for me to say, but one officer from the Native American Journalists Association has a suggestion. I also answer a grandmother quoted in the series who called me with a concern about truth.
August 9, 2013 An NPR investigation into foster care for American Indian children in South Dakota took on a serious issue but failed in several crucial respects. The series alleged that state social workers took children from their families as a way to get federal funds and put them in white homes out of cultural bias. While acknowledging secondary problems, editors defend the series, which won prizes. I find, however, that it violated NPR's standards because it lacked proof and failed to give the state's side on key points. The series also was characterized by an unfair tone, factual errors, misleading data and inadequate context. It should not have aired as it was. This introduction summarizes a six-chapter report on how not to do investigative storytelling.
August 9, 2013 The conceptual basis of NPR's faulty investigation of American Indian foster care in South Dakota was a narrow — and misleading — interpretation of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. By focusing mostly on the act's call for protecting Indian culture, the series failed to discuss the equally important need to protect children. The series also ignored historic Indian sovereignty issues and changing concepts of race.
July 19, 2013 A six year study of NPR's coverage finds that Washington sure enough leads, but there is more national dispersal than imagined. Editors and many of us want still more. See if your state is being dissed. Someone seems to be messing with Texas in particular (and Florida).
July 11, 2013 An icon of radio has passed on with the cancellation of Talk of the Nation. The decision was a management prerogative, but I join with the many hundreds of you who have written in mourning. Some of your letters may help the replacement, Here & Now. We are all listening.
July 9, 2013 Reporter Ailsa Chang was accused of sexism when she described Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as "perky" and speaking in a "girlie" voice. But what if the senator's supporters say the same, while admiring her forceful will in confronting the Pentagon? Are we undercutting women political leaders, or treating them differently from men? Is this a "Legally Blonde" moment?
March 15, 2013 Many listeners complain that for the last month NPR has been "all Catholic radio, all the time." Our review finds that the story count has indeed been overwhelming. But in a comparison among religions and denominations, Catholicism is unique in size, institutional organization and global influence. Now that we have Pope Francis, however, a news break might be nice.
March 12, 2013 When the headline on the Web version of a recent story called an active, 71-year-old midwife "elderly," she was offended. The reporter, meanwhile, asked for advice on what words to use. A check with experts finds division. Maybe, live forever and avoid labels? Please advise (about the labels).
March 8, 2013 Psychologists find that in experiencing a news story on a divisive issue, we all hear the arguments supporting the other side more than our own. We thus tend to see bias, often wrongly. Was this the case in a story about a Palestinian documentary filmmaker working near Israeli settlements on the West Bank?
March 1, 2013 A cost-cutting, face-saving move by the Post to replace its independent ombudsman with what sounds like a customer care representative is sadly shortsighted. It contributes precisely to the decline in public trust that lies behind the travails at the Post and all American news media. NPR in polls confronts the same trust malady. The press grows in power, yet sheds ever more controls. Editors will never investigate themselves. The public rebels.
February 7, 2013 NPR has been covering the recent conflict in Mali from on the ground. But when a listener heard several places being called "villages," she asked why the images of primitiveness. NPR's West Africa correspondent answered.
January 28, 2013 NPR's photo blog has started a remarkably considered conversation over the ethics of taking a moving Newtown picture of a woman praying in grief. The woman and the photographer — each sympathetic — weigh in. The blog's debate over trade-offs is worth expanding to a wider public.