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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.

One follow-up and some concerns about language to end this week.

First, the follow-up.

NPR has updated its code of ethics.

Bill Deputy was All Things Considered's guardian of sound. An engineer and the show's technical director for many years, Deputy died Sunday of lung cancer in New Orleans at the age of 58.

Sound was a serious business for Bill. When he wasn't combining words and sound with music in the All Things Considered control room, he was traveling with us on assignments. We worked together everywhere from Baltimore to Gaza City, and his assignments with my colleagues were equally far-flung.

On Wednesday, Morning Edition ran a story about advocates in Kentucky adopting a county-by-county strategy to pass right-to-work legislation, after statewide efforts to pass such legislation failed for several years running. The story was by Lisa Autry, an award-winning reporter at member station WKU Public Radio, in Bowling Green, Ky., who occasionally contributes to NPR's newsmagazines.

If you had one million dollars to fulfill a wish to change the world, what would you do? This is the question the winner of the annual TED Prize is asked to answer.

Last week, All Things Considered aired a piece by NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reporting on investigations into the work of so-called "climate skeptics" — scientists who doubt that climate change is a serious problem or that humans are causing it. The piece raised the broader issue of whether advocates on both sides of the climate change debate are trying to undermine scientists with whom they disagree.

Back in 2012, the Ombudsman's web page posted a document titled NPR Underwriting Credit Guidelines. It was the first document that came up in a Google search on the topic of the policies, adopted by NPR's board of directors, that govern how NPR gives on-air recognition to its underwriters, including commercial entities and non-profit organizations that want to draw attention to their goods, services and viewpoints.

After the end of March, Diane Rehm, the host of the NPR-distributed The Diane Rehm Show, will no longer participate in fundraising dinners for Compassion & Choices, a non-profit organization that, among other activities, lobbies for changes to state laws to permit medically assisted death.

The decision came out of a conversation last week between Rehm and executives of NPR and WAMU-FM, the Washington, D.C., public radio station that produces Rehm's show.

A case of unfortunate timing this past weekend had some listeners seeing a plot where none existed.

Deadline Poetry

Feb 27, 2015

For late Friday, a couple items from the mailbag. I'm not going to weigh in except to say that in my first month here I've found NPR's journalists to be very open to discussing questions about their work. I find it's often helpful to see how journalistic decisions are made; you can judge for yourselves.

Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

It's a day that we wish held no particular significance, but April 19, 1995 is etched in many Oklahomans' memory banks as the most horrific day in state history.

It started out as an ordinary day, or maybe some of us had plans to make it not so ordinary -- maybe a birthday or anniversary, a day off work or some other anticipated happening that would signify a break from routine.

A story in the Washington Post, posted online on Feb. 14 and on the Feb. 15 front page, detailed how Diane Rehm "is becoming one of the country's most prominent figures in the right-to-die debate." Rehm is the longtime, well-respected host of the midday talk and call-in program, The Diane Rehm Show, which originates at Washington, D.C. station WAMU-FM.

Reader Richard Sloatberg of San Diego, Calif. wrote to ask why Ann Powers, a NPR Music correspondent, was "allowed to plug her husband's book," without a note explaining their relationship, on NPR's music news blog, The Record. Sloatberg was referring to this Feb.

After considerable discussion, we have decided to end the practice of posting an Open Forum each month. They were started at a time when my predecessor wasn't posting often, while he was working on a lengthy project. My intention is to get back to having more frequent posts, which will offer more opportunities for more focused commenting.

We'd like to move the broader discussions of NPR's journalism, ethics and standards to social media. We hope this will make it easier to hold conversations focused on single topics, rather than the jumble of issues that come up in each forum.

Correcting An 'American Legacy'

Feb 11, 2015

It's never too late to make a correction, especially when fraud may be involved.

I'm a little over two weeks into my tenure as NPR's ombudsman. That's about 200 emails to the ombudsman, a couple dozen tweets from listeners and one anonymous letter that complained in part about PBS (a separate organization.) For those of you who have sent words of welcome, thank you.

Editor's Note: My predecessor, Edward Schumacher-Matos, has been reflecting on his tenure as NPR's Ombudsman, which ended Jan. 31. Here is his final column. I'll begin posting here soon. - Elizabeth

If I am unethical, then so be it.

NPR Launches A New Podcast Directory

Jan 26, 2015

Today, we're rolling out a new podcast directory on, and we're excited to have a beautiful new home to showcase all of the podcasts from the NPR family.

I am pleased to introduce my successor, Elizabeth Jensen. Here's the staff note from NPR CEO Jarl Mohn.

RE: Our New Ombudsman/Public Editor

All –

I'm thrilled to share the news that veteran journalist Elizabeth Jensen will become our next Ombudsman/Public Editor.