KGOU

This is KGOU

How we do what we do

Many listeners (and political commentators, too) have expressed concerns about Monday's political commentary on Morning Edition, in which Cokie Roberts said, with no specific attribution, that whispering "Democrats" are discussing the possibility of having Democratic party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton "step aside and finding another candidate."

Each week brings a steady stream of emails requesting that NPR devote more coverage to third party presidential candidates Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee.

For the week of Aug. 21-27, NPR ran 19 stories about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, 10 that focused primarily on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and another 17 that dealt more or less equally with both, or other campaign issues not candidate-focused.

For the three-week period from Aug. 7 through Aug. 27, the tally stands at 79 stories primarily focused on Trump, 46 on Clinton, three on other candidates and 55 stories that covered more than one candidate or general campaign issues.

More than 3,400 comments were posted on my previous column, which looked at some of the reasons behind NPR's decision to shut down commenting on stories posted at NPR.org. Those comments are in addition to emails to the Ombudsman office, tweets, comments left on NPR's Facebook page and all other modes of reaction.

NPR is making an announcement today that is sure to upset a loyal core of its audience, those who comment online at NPR.org (including those who comment on this blog). As of Aug. 23, online comments, a feature of the site since 2008, will be disabled.

KGOU's on-air sign
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

KGOU is celebrating National Radio Day, and we'd love to see you and the rest of our audience during our studio open house.

We'll be here from noon to 3 p.m. with studio tours, giveaways, interactive presentations by the news staff, and a live performance by The Royal Jelly.

After two weeks off for the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions, my office is back to tracking NPR's newsmagazine and online campaign coverage. In the week starting Sunday, July 31, NPR again devoted the most stories to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

With the Republican and Democratic party conventions behind us, my office is back to tracking NPR's campaign coverage. We will publish the latest numbers later this week. But, first, a look at a pair of good pieces by Tom Gjelten (it's not just me saying so) on the religious backgrounds of the Republican and Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates, and why some listeners ended up seeing bias that didn't exist.

On Friday, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviewed David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who is running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana. Duke ran for the same office twice in the 1990s and lost; in announcing his new candidacy, he cited the current political climate, as evidenced by support for Donald Trump's campaign.

We've made it through two weeks of back-to-back political conventions, with an accompanying burst of emails from listeners. The majority of messages to my office this week and last concerned the joint NPR/PBS prime-time convention broadcasts, which I addressed in an earlier column. But there were other concerns, as well. Here are some thoughts on just a few of those concerns

After months — though it feels like years — of campaigning, debates, primaries and controversy, it's finally time for the conventions. This week, politicians, pundits and protesters are clogging the sidewalks and eateries of Cleveland, my hometown. (I'm hoping the crowds stay as well-behaved as a Cavs victory parade.)

In four months, on the first Friday after the elections in November, Renee Montagne will step away from the host chair on Morning Edition after 12 years.

That's 12 years of arriving at work every weekday at midnight. Montagne works out of the NPR West studio in Culver City, Calif., on the outskirts of Los Angeles. That means at 2 a.m. PT, she's sounding bright and fully caffeinated for Morning Edition's earliest East Coast broadcasts. Her punishing hours were a point of pride — but only to a point.

The campaign for president — including how NPR covers it — is clearly top of mind for many listeners and readers who write to the Ombudsman's office. The topic has far outweighed any other in the hundreds of emails we've received each month during the past year.

The issue is a priority for us, as well. No other story is likely to take up so much NPR airtime or online space in the coming months. NPR needs to get its coverage right. But what exactly does "right" sound and read like in an election year as unusual as this one?

NPR remembered colleagues David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna at a memorial service at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum on Tuesday morning. Gilkey, an NPR photojournalist, was killed in Afghanistan on June 5 with Tamanna, NPR's Afghan interpreter and a fellow journalist. As NPR's The Two-Way reported, "David and Zabihullah were on assignment for the network traveling with an Afghan army unit.

As the magnitude of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., began to emerge Sunday morning, NPR's newsroom quickly mobilized; by 6 a.m. ET, initial plans were taking shape. Later in the morning, the newsroom moved into the live reporting known as "special coverage" for those stations that chose to air it.

The mail started coming in fast beginning Monday night when NPR, following the lead of The Associated Press, posted a story saying that Hillary Clinton had amassed enough commitments from superdelegates, on top of the pledged delegates she had already won, to make her the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

A few months back, I asked a favor of my friend and NPR colleague Zabihullah Tamanna. We'd just spent a busy day going from interview to interview in Kabul. I had some urgent writing to do. Would he mind going out onto the streets and taking some photographs?

For those who live and work in conflict zones and war zones, it's easy to become somewhat numb. Violence and danger can corrode your sense of humanity. But the pictures that Zabihullah took that day were the work of a journalist whose compassion was entirely intact.

When NPR photographer David Gilkey was killed by Taliban fire in a roadside ambush Sunday, he was doing what he always did — chasing an important story in a dangerous place. He did this from Afghanistan to Iraq to Liberia and many other places along the way.

Sometimes journalists face a conflict of interest in their reporting. Other times it is the perception of a conflict, which can be just as problematic. NPR has a perceived conflict — and, because its disclosure processes broke down, in some ways a real conflict — in the case of one grant it received to fund coverage of a hot-button topic. The fiscal year 2015 grant, from the Ploughshares Fund, supported "national security reporting that emphasizes the themes of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and budgets, Iran's nuclear program, international nuclear security topics and U.S.

Pages