Elizabeth Jensen

Elizabeth Jensen was appointed to a three-year term as NPR's 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 Public Editor receives tens of 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, where, among other topics, she wrote about sustainability strategies for public television stations.

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 a 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 teaches food journalism at New York University, has occasionally reported on the food world, including investigating vegetarian marshmallow fraud for a CNBC newsmagazine report.

Morning Edition listeners could not have been surprised: NPR gave them lots of heads up that new theme music was coming this week, the first change since the show went on the air 40 years ago. And the music is actually better described as "new-ish" than "new."

I was taken aback to wake up Wednesday to a Morning Edition report about why NPR is not using the word "lie" to "characterize the statements of President Trump when they are at odds with evidence to the contrary," as a separate post on NPR's Two-Way blog put it.

It's rare that my office gets a complaint about the Friday StoryCorps segments on Morning Edition. The excerpts of interviews conducted between friends and loved ones (no NPR host or reporter involved) are most often poignant windows into other people's realities, as they discuss their life struggles, loves and journeys.

The news Sunday afternoon that Steve Bannon had been named chief strategist in President-elect Donald Trump's White House sparked renewed interest in a topic NPR covered this summer, the rise of the white nationalist movement, also referred to euphemistically as the "alt-right."

Reporting, analysis and commentary — those are the three predominant types of content NPR's newsroom offers listeners and readers. Reporting and analysis make up most of what the newsroom puts out. However, it is the very small category of commentary (and political commentary, specifically, since that makes up the majority of NPR commentary at the moment) that is driving an outsized number of complaints to the Ombudsman office this election season.

Scientific American reported last week on the disturbing practice known as a "close-hold embargo," where reporters are given advance access to an upcoming news-making announcement on the condition that they not seek outside perspective until the embargo is lifted.

NPR is making an announcement today that is sure to upset a loyal core of its audience, those who comment online at NPR.org (including those who comment on this blog). As of Aug. 23, online comments, a feature of the site since 2008, will be disabled.

With the Republican and Democratic party conventions behind us, my office is back to tracking NPR's campaign coverage. We will publish the latest numbers later this week. But, first, a look at a pair of good pieces by Tom Gjelten (it's not just me saying so) on the religious backgrounds of the Republican and Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates, and why some listeners ended up seeing bias that didn't exist.

A live interview on Wednesday's Morning Edition with Carl Paladino, an honorary co-chairman of Donald Trump's New York campaign, left some listeners feeling as though they had tuned in to talk radio and not NPR.

Tensions between the needs of terrestrial radio, the foundational base of NPR, and digital distribution, its future in some form or other, may not always be apparent to most NPR listeners and readers.

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.)

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.

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 early July, The Guardian reported that Exxon Mobil Corp., "the world's biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm's own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial."

The plaintive email came into my office Wednesday night from Joseph Suste of Medford, Ore. In total, it read: "Why isn't NPR covering the Bernie Sanders campaign?"

My even shorter answer? NPR is (although Suste has lots of company among listeners who believe the coverage is missing). But other listener questions need a fuller answer.

A Morning Edition report on Monday with the headline "Congress May Be Forced To Intervene Again On Mammogram Recommendations" drew some sharp rebukes, many of them from physicians who expressed deep concern over missing context.