What is an Ombudsman/Public Editor?
The Ombudsman's office serves primarily as a liaison between the newsroom and listeners, to make the newsroom leaders aware of how listeners feel and help listeners understand why the newsroom makes the decisions it does. We investigate listener concerns and issues of journalism ethics and often suggest changes. The Ombudsman has no management authority, however; the newsroom can take our suggestions (or not). We don't speak for the newsroom or for NPR—just for ourselves—and we don't have the power to print a correction or set policy. Listeners and readers often write with questions about underwriting or management issues, but, unless they touch on the newsroom functions, those areas are outside our purview.
For more about how the office works, find this helpful explainer here.
About Elizabeth Jensen
Elizabeth Jensen was appointed to a three-year term as NPR's Ombudsman/Public Editor in January 2015. In this role, she serves as the public's representative to NPR, responsible for bringing transparency to matters of journalism and journalism ethics. The Ombudsman/Public Editor receives thousands of listener inquiries annually and responds to significant queries, comments and criticisms.
Jensen has spent decades taking an objective look at the media industry. As a contributor to The New York Times, she covered the public broadcasting beat – PBS, NPR, local stations and programming – as well as children's media, documentaries, non-profit journalism start-ups and cable programming. She also wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review and was a regular contributor to Current, the public broadcasting trade publication..
Over her three decades in journalism, Jensen has reported on journalistic decision-making, mergers and acquisitions, content, institutional transformations, the intersection of media and politics, advertising and more, for a variety of national news organizations. She reported on the media for The Los Angeles Times, where she broke the story of Sinclair Broadcast Group's partisan 2004 campaign activities, and was honored with an internal award for a story of the last official American Vietnam War casualty. Previously she was a senior writer for the national media watchdog consumer magazine Brill's Content, spent six years at The Wall Street Journal, where she was part of a team of reporters honored with the Sigma Delta Chi public service award for tobacco industry coverage, and spent several years with the New York Daily News.
In 2005, Jensen was the recipient of a Kiplinger Fellowship in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University, focusing her research on media politicization. She earned her M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, spending her second year at Geneva's L'Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales, and received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
When not covering media, Jensen, who has taught food journalism at New York University, has occasionally reported on the food world, including investigating vegetarian marshmallow fraud for a CNBC newsmagazine report.
She tweets at @EJensenNYC.