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The Ombudsman's office heard this week and last from listeners with varying concerns around how NPR covers major appearances by President Donald Trump. We took them to the newsroom for reaction.

Journalism that covers political and civic affairs is in the midst of an extraordinary period of challenge.

The Splendid Table logo
APM

American Public Media has announced that award-winning New York Times Magazine columnist and Top Chef Masters judge Francis Lam will become the new host of The Splendid Table. After 21 seasons, Lynne Rossetto Kasper is retiring at the end of 2017 and will continue to contribute to the program throughout the year until her retirement. Lam will host his first show March 10.

Last weekend was a very busy one for the NPR newsroom. Between the Inauguration of President Donald Trump and the massive Women's March demonstrations, there was no shortage of news. We heard from listeners and readers about all aspects of NPR's live coverage of Inauguration weekend, including a number of concerns that NPR did not adequately cover the Women's March.

Listener Diane McLean of Allyn, Wash., is one who didn't hear as much about the march as she would have hoped:

I was taken aback to wake up Wednesday to a Morning Edition report about why NPR is not using the word "lie" to "characterize the statements of President Trump when they are at odds with evidence to the contrary," as a separate post on NPR's Two-Way blog put it.

In June 2016, David Gilkey, an NPR photojournalist, and Zabihullah Tamanna, NPR's Afghan interpreter and also a journalist, were killed while on assignment for NPR in Afghanistan. Their deaths in the field — when their armored Humvee, driven by a Afghan National Army soldier, was hit by heavy weapons fire — marked a sad first for NPR in its more than 45 years on the air.

In mid-December, NPR's website ran a story about the CIA's conclusion "that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win." The story had this headline: "The Russian Hacking Kerfuffle: What We Do and Don't Know." The story was fine. But it was most definitely not about a simple "kerfuffle," which Merriam-Webster defines as a "disturbance, fuss." "Kerfuffle" was later replaced in the headline with the better word "controversy."

The message below was sent by NPR's Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director Michael Oreskes to the NPR News staff on Jan. 17.

The right of working journalists to do their jobs should not be up for debate when a new administration takes office (or at any other time). But it disturbingly seems to be.

Dick Pryor and R.C. Davis-Undiano
Current Conversations

What is the future of radio? Current Conversations host Robert Con Davis-Undiano talks with KGOU's new General Manager Dick Pryor, whose career in radio and television in Oklahoma spans 40 years.

Join us for a fascinating discussion about radio–past and future.

Interview Highlights:

Once again, NPR finds itself in the uncomfortable position of reporting on unverified information, just as it did last year when WikiLeaks dumped troves of what it said were hacked emails taken from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, and from top officials of the Democratic National Committee.

NPR journalists provide great storytelling and rigorous reporting. And that gets noticed. In 2016 many NPR journalists and programs were recognized with awards for investigative reports, outstanding features and series, digital innovations and bodies of coverage. This year's honors include the George Foster Peabody Award presented by the Grady College of Journalism, the Alfred I. duPont­-Columbia University Award presented by the Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, the Edward R.

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.

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