KGOU

This is KGOU

How we do what we do

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.

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.

Oh, you didn't hear? Turns out Friday was our birthday. On that day, precisely 46 years ago, this little organization of ours was incorporated under the name National Public Radio.

Yes, we're aware already that your gift must be in the mail. (Right?) And yes, thank you, we are easing into our middle age with charm and aplomb. (Ahem — right?)

A Kansas listener, Michael Campbell, wrote to my office after hearing remarks made by NPR's longtime legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg on the NPR Politics podcast. Totenberg, speaking about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said this in response to a question about when she first met Scalia:

An addendum of sorts to last week's column on NPR's move to add more live interviews to its newsmagazines: Sometimes that makes for messy journalism.

Earlier this month, NPR started introducing many of its newscasts with the words "Live from NPR News in Washington." (Or, "Live from NPR News in Culver City, California," the West Coast production center where it has now stationed an All Things Considered newscaster, Dwane Brown.)

KGOU listener Keith Gaddie and his bulldog, Georgia.
Keith Gaddie

It’s Mardi Gras - a day of indulgence, parades, zydeco, and a celebration of all things New Orleans during annual Carnival celebrations that originate with the Christian period between Epiphany and Lent.

KGOU (and our listeners) celebrated the season Sunday afternoon with The Weekend Bluesannual “Mardi Party” featuring music from the Crescent City and beyond.

NPR listeners and readers woke up Tuesday morning to headlines declaring Hillary Clinton the winner of the previous night's Democratic caucuses. "Hillary Clinton has defeated Bernie Sanders by the slimmest of margins," the 7 a.m. ET newscast reported. Online, one headline read: "Iowa Caucuses: Cruz Wins GOP Race; Clinton Defeats Sanders."

NPR 'Jeopardy!' Fans - This One's For You

Jan 27, 2016

Last week, Jeopardy! viewers put their NPR knowledge to the test along with three contestant hopefuls-- Todd Coleman, a professor from River Falls, Wisconsin; Will Anderson, a senior legislative hailing from Atlanta, Georgia; and Maggie Schreiter, fiber artist and a stay-at-home mom from Ewing, New Jersey.

Think you can answer the NPR-infused trivia questions? Give us your best guess:

On Sunday morning Jan. 24, NPR's Goats and Soda blog published a piece with the title, "What Are You Afraid Of In 2016? Globetrotters Share Their Fears." The post was accompanied by an illustration, done by a freelance artist, which depicted some travelers' anxieties, from food-borne disease to access to quality health care.

Michael Oreskes joined NPR as its head of news at the end of April 2015. Since then, he has overseen extensive changes on air, as well as behind the scenes in the newsroom.

As listeners are hearing today on Morning Edition, longtime sports commentator Frank Deford, a Wednesday morning fixture on NPR for more than three decades, is going to appear less frequently on NPR in the future.

Deford, who has been delivering his Sweetness and Light commentary weekly since 1980 (except for a two-year hiatus in 1989–90), will now be heard on the first Wednesday of the month. Varied new commentators—there's no set roster—will fill the sports slot the other weeks.

The letter below calling for the release of Jason Rezaian was sent January 8, 2016.

Dear Secretary Kerry:

Journalism is not a crime. Yet Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian has been imprisoned by Iran since July 2014 for doing his job. Iran has never offered any evidence that even makes a pretense of justifying this imprisonment. We know you agree that Iran should release Jason and on behalf of our organizations and journalists around the world, we are writing to urge you to maintain your efforts to forge a path to that release.

Listeners often write about spoiler alerts—sometimes plot spoilers sneak through in reports on TV shows and movies, as careful as NPR's reporters and hosts try to be.

I've heard from many listeners in recent weeks about NPR's coverage of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Many of their messages can be boiled down to one word: "Enough."

David Mislin, of Pittsburgh, Penn., wrote:

It has become all too clear that Donald Trump is running a campaign based on bigotry and hate. And yet, NPR continues to afford his campaign considerable airtime (he was the lead story on Morning Edition today, for example).

Last week I looked at the third year results of NPR's ongoing examination of the gender, geographic, ethnic and racial diversity of its on-air sources — the people who are interviewed on the air, either as experts or participants in events or part of the general public.

Results are in from the third year of NPR's sourcing project—designed to understand and ultimately improve the gender, geographic, and racial and ethnic diversity of people heard on NPR as outside sources of news and opinion. The news is mixed.

In fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30, there was a notable increase, compared to two years earlier, in the percentage of black sources, and an incremental, statistically insignificant increase in the share of female sources. Most disappointingly, there was virtually no change in the share of Latino sources.

Ending a run of more than 30 years on the air, talk show host Diane Rehm plans to retire, according to WAMU, the NPR member station where the show is produced in Washington, D.C.

Rehm's exit from the show will not take place immediately; she is expected to remain as its host through the 2016 presidential election. A date for her exit has not been established.

Following the Paris terrorist attacks on the evening of Nov. 13, my office heard from Wyoming listener Patrick D. Sheehy, who wrote, "Out here two time zones away from Washington DC...I am curious what level of news does it take to get NPR out of package mode and into special report mode." NPR's All Things Considered was still running a prerecorded piece about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, with only a brief Paris update, he wrote, adding, "I'm getting most of my news from a friend texting me from the Netherlands."

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, I've heard from a number of listeners who want NPR to start referring to the extremist group that has been identified by French authorities as the perpetrator by the name "Daesh."

Current NPR policy, as at many major English-language media outlets, is to refer to the group as "Islamic State" — which is a shortened version of the English translation of what it calls itself — with the option to add the caveats "self-described" or "self-declared."

Pages