September 14, 2012 An ambiguous quote about the first lady by an attendee at a Romney American Legion event did injustice to blacks, veterans and the attendee herself. Many listeners heard hate speech. If so, did NPR share blame? Should reporters even care how the audience might react?
September 12, 2012 It's an insult that some Republicans repeat with glee, but complaints that NPR reporters have themselves indulged in referring to the 'Democrat Party' have so far proven to be untrue. Fortunately, your ombudsman is not a political reporter, or FDR would be turning in his grave.
September 10, 2012 An audience poll to select the 100 best young adult books coughed up 75,000 voters and just two books with non-white protagonists. Even a winning writer complained. Kill the judges? No, the enemy is us. Book editors ask for a solution.
September 1, 2012 Readers and listeners complain about bias in individual segments of NPR's coverage, but Managing Editor David Sweeney says overall balance in the aggregate is what counts. We listened to a morning news meeting to see how the NPR sausage gets made.
August 20, 2012 That is how Gov. Romney introduced Ryan and NPR ran it. Later soundbites had Romney correctly introducing Ryan as his new vice presidential nominee. Many listeners howled. Was NPR airbrushing the introduction to save Romney an embarrassment? The answer is elementary, my dear readers.
July 27, 2012 Every two years, NPR aims for the gold medal standard in its coverage of the Olympic Games, which means up-to-the-minute coverage. Due to the time difference, events take place before they are aired in primetime. Listeners often react with anger and call for a spoiler alert to be issued. Here, the Office of the Ombudsman offers NPR's coverage policies.
July 21, 2012 Many rushed to judgment, but while Ahmad Shafi sinned, he should not be punished. His is a case study in cultural differences and speedy editorial reaction. Left for debate is whether to remove stories from the Web and history.
July 13, 2012 Otherwise good stories on health care and minimum wage were undermined by presenting an oft-quoted advocate as a typical small businessperson. There was no right wing conspiracy, just a moment of poor journalistic practice.
June 15, 2012 A story is not about you, but you feel tarred by implication. Should NPR and the news media add a clarification to the Web story for the record and posterity? The case of a former Guantanamo chief prosecutor raises possibilities and problems. We need a public consensus.
May 14, 2012 From Biden and Obama's announcements to Romney's graduation speech, interviewees favoring gay marriage outnumbered those opposed 3-2 on NPR. Anti voices are needed, but history made it rightfully a pro week. The bigger question: what should NPR's values be going forward? Gay rights is a defining issue.
May 4, 2012 Reporter Peter Overby worked for a Common Cause magazine 18 years ago. He too rosily labeled it a "good government" group in stories on ALEC, the conservative business-legislator organization. But the stories were fair, disclosure of Overby's past was adequate, and the attacks on the messenger leave standing the message on ALEC's tax status.
April 27, 2012 We all love NPR music. In honor of its highly independent staffers, its time to run a permanent ethical disclaimer on all NPR.org's cultural pages saying that because of technical inevitabilities, ads and reviews on the same album, book or movie occasionally run next to each other.
April 20, 2012 A light piece by food commentator Bonny Wolf sparked strong responses from those for and against the growing movement to sell and drink raw milk. Science, culture and changing social mores create a moving target. Then there are the Saharan camels and Colombian goats.
April 10, 2012 After a series of messy mishaps, NPR isn't doing badly when it comes to racial and ethnic diversity in its coverage and staffing. Management is trying to do better. I explore what audiences identify with NPR and who really is producing the news that you hear and read.
April 4, 2012 Has the term 'Christian' been co-opted by conservatives or abandoned by liberals? These are among the several hundred, almost uniformly thoughtful reactions to last week's column about whether Christian has become synonymous with conservative. Here are some of the best responses.