NPR hires new Ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen - iMediaEthics

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National Public Radio has hired its fifth ombudsman.

Elizabeth Jensen, who has previously worked for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Daily News, among other publications, replaces Edward Schumacher-Matos as NPR’s ombudsman (aka, public editor).

“I’m thrilled to be joining NPR,” Jensen told iMediaEthics by e-mail. “It’s a unique opportunity, the chance to ensure that this very vital news organization remains transparent and accountable. I’ve been an NPR listener for years, in addition to covering it, and I know how invested listeners are in NPR’s journalism. It will be an honor to represent them.”

Schumacher-Matos’ term was supposed to end last summer but NPR extended it until the network found his replacement, as iMediaEthics previously reported.

Over the summer, NPR posted its job description for the ombudsman position, saying that the ombudsman “focuses on fact gathering and explanation, not commentary or judgment.” After criticism of that description, NPR changed the job description and NPR’s CEO Jarl Mohn said it was a “mistake” to say the ombudsman wouldn’t provide commentary. Mohn later supported the role of ombudsman by saying, “The Ombudsman must be fully independent and fully transparent in order to do their job on behalf of the public.”

As NPR explained in its report on Jensen’s hiring, the ombudsman “typically serves as a blend of the audience’s representative and paid critic of the institution. But each fashions the job to his or her own sensibility.”

Jensen’s term will last three years effective Jan. 26, NPR reported.

Jensen told Poynter that she plans to post on social media and blogs often.  She added that she likes the way that New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan works as ombudsman.

“I think Margaret Sullivan is doing a terrific job at The Times,” Jensen told Poynter. “She’s just such a regular presence, and I like the fact that she’s very active on social media and she jumps into things pretty quickly. I think she’s terrific.”

Jensen tweeted about her hiring.

iMediaEthics has written to outgoing ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos for comment on his term.


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NPR hires new Ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen

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