In a recent column I suggested that NPR's election coverage would benefit from occasionally stepping back from the day in, day out, "horse race" of the campaign trail, with its focus on who is up or down in the polls and in fundraising, and the latest gaffe or candidate spat. Many listeners in their letters to me say they want much more of a focus on where candidates stand on the issues, and on fact checking.
Should NPR have published a review of a controversial book? And are the details in a new NPR podcast so detailed as to be irresponsible? Those were among the non-politics issues raised by listeners and readers in the last couple of weeks. Here are a few of the letters we have received and responses from the newsroom.
Morning Edition listeners heard an awkward exchange this morning between regular Monday commentator Cokie Roberts and David Greene, one of the hosts. As part of Roberts' usual commentary, the two discussed Roberts' role at NPR. The short version of that part of the conversation? She is a commentator, not a reporter or a senior news analyst under contract (her previous title). She has not been a full-time staff member at NPR since 1992.
Election related concerns continue to roll in to the Ombudsman's office, as is to be expected in any election year, and even more so when the rhetoric and anxieties are as heightened as they are in this cycle. Many of them are being forwarded to the newsroom, but one interesting issue arose that seemed particularly worthy of a public airing.
Craig Windham, a voice familiar to many NPR listeners, died unexpectedly last night of a pulmonary embolism. He was 66.
Windham was an award-winning journalist who covered presidential campaigns, hurricanes, earthquakes and the first Persian Gulf War. More recently, he focused on anchoring and reporting for NPR's Newscasts. In less than 40 seconds, Windham could explain the intricacies of a complicated bill or capture the glory of a space shuttle flying over the nation's capital.