Speaking recently about Mike Daisey, Jayson Blair said, “journalism is essentially built on trust.” Speaking recently about himself, Mike Daisey said, “At the end of the day, people make a trust decision” when trying to figure out whether they should believe him. They’re unlikely allies for NPR ombud Edward Schumacher-Matos, who earlier this month suggested, “You either trust NPR’s reporters and editors to be impartial, or you don’t.” The comment sparked plenty of feedback.
In response, Schumacher-Matos followed up with a self-examination of his own work yesterday: “I intended to convey that even if NPR reporters and hosts made every possible on-air disclosure, the public must ultimately put some trust in the organization that is delivering the news,” he wrote.
Indeed, Schumacher-Matos’ initial position was more nuanced than that first quote suggests; two sentences before it, he wrote: “There is no way to totally eliminate the appearance of all conflicts of interest, and sometimes the conflict itself.” Noting that NPR has 175 corporate underwriters, he wrote:
It would be a logistical nightmare and senseless use of time on air and space on line to repeat a rote statement about a company being a sponsor each time one of the 175 are mentioned in a story. And what about new sponsors [National Public Media] might be seeking to attract? Or a past sponsor?