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

VIDEO: Furry Is The Hand That Bribes

Oct 12, 2014
Three panelists and a big furry friend
Kerry Thompson / NPR

The Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! news quiz can be tough, but some panelists have figured out how to get an advantage. Seems it's all about the incentives....

Need an incentive to help pay for the programs that bring you enjoyment, enlightenment, and knowledge about what's going on in our world? We'll thank you with a small gift, a big smile and heartfelt gratitude!

Let's be real, Millennials. The chatter surrounding our generation isn't always super flattering. Perhaps some of it is even a tiny bit unfair (haters gonna hate). The thing is: we control our legacy.

So, Millennials. Who are we? How do we identify ourselves and define our generation's culture? Where do we fit into this world and how are we reshaping it?*

As hundreds of emails poured in complaining that NPR was ignoring the People's Climate March in New York Sept. 21, I wondered whether editors were trying to prove their conservative critics wrong about NPR being too liberal.

Three years ago KGOU and our other public media colleagues in Oklahoma started a project with NPR called StateImpact Oklahoma.

After countless web stories and nearly 150 broadcast reports, the project's digital guru Joe Wertz created this Google map with a pin from every broadcast story they've reported and traveled to over the past 36 months.

Differences in recent weeks over whether to post videos or photographs of the grisly beheadings by ISIS seem to have come down pretty strongly on the side against the postings. But what about the use of the word "beheading" itself in radio stories? Should there be an advance warning for listeners?

Internet comment sections seem by nature to breed both insightful musings and the foulest bile. Many readers and comment writers complain to us about their frustrations in trying to understand what rules, if any, lie behind how the comments are moderated. NPR, like many news organizations, constantly walks a tight-rope in trying to encourage both lively discussion and respect.

Scott Montgomery, NPR's managing editor of digital news, says there's no optimal comment moderation system out there:

The Ferguson story has moved off the streets and into the grand jury room, which is to say that there is a lull in the reporting in this otherwise emotive story.

The quiet is a good time to take stock of just how well NPR has done so far. The scores of emails that have come in from listeners over these past weeks have mostly dealt with the issues themselves coming out of Ferguson, and not focused on NPR's coverage. By itself, that says something: listeners have found no major problems with the coverage.

Open Forum

Sep 15, 2014

You're invited to use this space to discuss media, policy and NPR's journalism. We'll follow the conversation and share it with the newsroom.

We have updated the format in order to keep the comments section open longer, at least until a new forum is posted next month. While we cannot respond to every comment, the ombudsman's staff reviews the Open Forum regularly. Please note that your comments here may be used in a future ombudsman post. As always, please be respectful of your fellow commentators.

After almost 35 years at NPR, Ellen McDonnell, the network's executive editor for news programming, is stepping down.

The network announced the news in a memo to staff on Thursday.

Plagiarism is a big word. So big that it can ruin a career. And yet it is slippery to define.

Reporters and editors have to make editorial judgments every day for which there is no single right answer. NPR West Bureau Chief Jason DeRose and reporter Alex Schmidt made one such call as they edited Schmidt's story about bicyclists in Los Angeles who move in group "trains" for support and safety. Schmidt recorded her experiences while biking with one train and then separately interviewed a driver who admitted to threatening bicyclists with her car.

Glenn Greenwald can certainly raise a ruckus.

The lawyer-cum-journalist who has been a principal conduit for the publication of the National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden has turned his sights on a recent NPR story by counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston. Greenwald has called it an "indisputable case of journalistic malpractice and deceit."

A puzzle underlay the complaints about a health care story in May from Houston. The reporting seemed gullible, but wasn't. It was in the more recent objections over war reports from Gaza, however, that I finally saw the full outlines of the conundrum—one that has been long nipping at me. You can help.

The issue is one of style, but beware: occasional listeners amongst you may judge differently from diehard NPR fans.

Open Forum

Aug 11, 2014

After a short break, the open forum is back open for discussion. We have updated the format in order to keep the comments section open longer, at least until a new forum is posted next month. While we cannot respond to every comment, the ombudsman's staff reviews the Open Forum regularly. Please note that your comments here may be used in a future ombudsman post. As always, please be respectful of your fellow commentators.

You're invited to use this space to discuss media, policy and NPR's journalism. We'll follow the conversation and share it with the newsroom.

From terrorism to natural disasters, the standard reporting on casualties is often like this by Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep:

"First, we go to Gaza," recited Inskeep. "The health ministry there says more than 500 people have been killed – many of them women and children."

Why, Larry Kalikow of Warrington, Penn, wrote, were women's lives being singled out?

NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos took to Reddit on Tuesday for an "Ask Me Anything" chat. Users wrote in with questions about media ethics, NPR coverage, and the journalism industry today. Schumacher-Matos answered some of the most common complaints he receives as an ombudsman. Check it out.

A brief Twitter storm caused by an NPR education reporter's tweet three weeks ago subsided almost as quickly as it arose. But what has continued among journalists and media watchers has been a debate over NPR's social media policy.

Reporter Anya Kamenetz set off the initial flurry when she tweeted in a moment of frustration:

Margot Adler, one of the signature voices on NPR's airwaves for more than three decades, died Monday at her home in New York City. She was 68 and had been battling cancer.

Margot joined the NPR staff as a general assignment reporter in 1979. She went on to cover everything from the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic to confrontations involving the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, N.C., to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

NPR One is our new digital listening app that blends NPR and Member Station news reporting into a rich, localized, on-demand experience. We have been working on this new audio news app for iOS and Android for some time, and now it's your turn to download it and experience public radio made personal.

Fred Rogers of Northfield, Minn, was clearly upset:

I am appalled at the coverage NPR is providing for the current crisis in Palestine/Israel. All of the stories I have heard have origins in Israel and they all begin with a profusion of support for Israel's defending itself. None express any insight about the three weeks of warfare against the Palestinian population that led up to this conflict.

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