Madhulika Sikka will be PBS’s next ombudsman, iMediaEthics has learned from PBS. Sikka is a former executive editor of National Public Radio and has previously worked at Mic as executive editor, and ABC News Nightline. According to a news release from PBS, Sikka “will report to PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger.”
“Public media is a mission-driven organization that serves content well beyond news,” Sikka told iMediaEthics by message. “I’m interested in seeing how it fulfills that mission.”
PBS’s previous ombudsman, Michael Getler, resigned this spring after more than a decade as PBS’s “independent internal critic,” as iMediaEthics reported.
In her first post on the public editor blog, Sikka noted that she expects the PBS role to be different from other public editor gigs because “PBS is not a newsroom. PBS is not a network. PBS doesn’t really produce content. It is a distributor of content.” She explained,
“The primary objective is to ensure that the organization lives up to its own standards of ethics and integrity in the programming it distributes. That means that when legitimate issues are raised by the audience I will look into them. There is not one senior editor of PBS to whom one can lodge a query. I will be the person to help navigate this process and find the appropriate person to respond.”
In the PBS news release announcing Sikka’s appointment, PBS CEO Kerger is quoted as saying, “Madhulika Sikka is known in the media industry as a journalist of the highest caliber, integrity and vision. Her experience leading complex news organizations coupled with her understanding of public media’s unique role makes her an ideal Public Editor for PBS and our viewers across America.”
Sikka described her plans for the role as serving as “the interlocutor between the audience, PBS and the creators of PBS content,” according to the news release.
In late May, the New York Times announced the end of its public editor position, effectively firing its then-public editor Liz Spayd.
This is a breaking news story that is being updated.