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The Sound of Ideas

NPR’s Ombudsman

Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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NPR’s Ombudsman Alicia Shepard goes to work every day knowing she could get a phone call or an email from any one of 20-million NPR listeners. As NPR ombudsman, Shepard does her best to respond. As liaison between NPR and its audience, she makes her own assessment about complaints which sometimes puts her at odds with reporters and producers. It all happens in the interest of ensuring journalism that’s both accurate and balanced. Does it make the broadcasts more credible to you? Join us for a conversation with the NPR ombudsman Tuesday at 9:00 on 90.3.


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Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson's report on the death of a U.S. Marine in Marjah

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Judy from Oberlin 9:19 AM 3/9/10

A compliment and a request:

Wade Goodwyn is the best reporter on the network. I hope he gets more stories.

I also hope someone can talk to reporters who use the annoying rising inflection? At the end of every sentence? If not every phrase? More announcers and reporters speak like this. It’s annoying and unprofessional and doesn’t belong at NPR.


Joane Johnson 9:30 AM 3/9/10

I disagree with the caller regarding the intellectuals.  I read it as a put down of them.  We, here, in Ohio are living the effects of this economy.  People are losing jobs and it does not matter if you are college educated or not.  The gist of it was they talk while we walk.  Not a put down to our mental acuity.  A put down to their arrogance.

don daney 9:50 AM 3/9/10

regarding tom and ray on car talk, as a retired u.s. autoworker,for years i listened as those boys beat down any and all domestic vehicles,some but not all justified. to me,the recent toyota debacle is sweet justice to the point that all automakers have their flaws.

Mark from Detroit/Shoreway 10:12 AM 3/9/10

I appreciated Lisa’s very direct response to the caller who asked about the phenomenon of referring to the President as “Mr. Obama.” In a very transparent way, Lisa handled previous complaints by reviewing the actual policy on naming public officials and even listening to on-air recordings to verify the policy’s being followed. She did research, got facts, and drew a conclusion. Well done!

My problem is with the way complaints are handled when NPR itself is not the story. As caller Wazir said, NPR often interviews both sides (or as Lisa claims, “all” sides) and then says hey, the truth is fluid, who’s to know?

That’s nonsense. Finding out facts is your job. That’s what news is for. By casting every single hard news story as a matter of opinion where truth is “in the eye of the beholder” as Lisa says, you are undermining the very concept of reality. Why do we need news at all if the truth is whatever you want it to be?

And why don’t you take the same attitude with regard to the “Mr. Obama” question? Hey, some people see it your way, some people see it the other way, who’s to say what’s true, right?

Solipsism stopped being fun around the end of junior high school. Adults are interested in finding out facts and drawing conclusions from what is actually known about the world. Getting the facts is NPR’s job.

Maureen Phillips 12:13 PM 3/9/10

This is why the cherry blossoms are so important to Washington DC. The info is from the National Cherry Blossom Festival web site.
History of the Trees and Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival® annually commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, honoring the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and celebrating the continued close relationship between our two cultures.

In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. In 1915, the United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan. A group of American school children reenacted the initial planting in 1927 and the first “festival” was held in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the Nation’s Capital.

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, the cycle of giving came full circle. Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from our trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.

The Festival was expanded to two weeks in 1994 to accommodate a diverse activity schedule during the trees’ blooming. Today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events that herald the beginning of spring in the Nation’s Capital.

The Festival looks forward to celebrating the centennial anniversary of the gift of trees in 2012 and is planning spectacular events to mark this historic and special occasion.


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