NPR listeners respond to ombud's suggestion they should trust reporters


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?

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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