Elizabeth Jensen

Note to readers: this post uses profanity that may offend some.

A Thursday Morning Edition interview with a Red Cross official and its companion online story (posted late Wednesday night) have prompted an outpouring of complaints to my office and NPR and on social media.

On June 18, NPR published an online-only review of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, a newly published nonfiction book by Duke University historian Nancy MacLean. NPR's reviewer praised the book for revealing a "clear and present danger" to the future of the country (the review is prominently excerpted on the book's Amazon page); reviewers at other publications did, as well.

Last week, when former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he said at one point: "I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter."

That memo was a nonclassified set of notes he wrote detailing a meeting he had with President Trump.

NPR, like most other major news organizations, referred to what Comey did — asking a friend to share the memo with a reporter — as "leaking."

Journalism that covers political and civic affairs is in the midst of an extraordinary period of challenge.

By any measure, the story that has been unfolding in North Dakota along the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline since April is extraordinary. Thousands of people led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have gathered for months in largely peaceful protest against the $3.8 billion oil pipeline's route, arguing that it infringes on tribal lands and could put at risk their water supply, and that the tribe was not properly consulted in the planning process.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 — far-reaching legislation that limits civil rights protections for LGBT people and requires people to use multiple occupancy public restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate — on March 23.

In a recent column I suggested that NPR's election coverage would benefit from occasionally stepping back from the day in, day out, "horse race" of the campaign trail, with its focus on who is up or down in the polls and in fundraising, and the latest gaffe or candidate spat. Many listeners in their letters to me say they want much more of a focus on where candidates stand on the issues, and on fact checking.

Election related concerns continue to roll in to the Ombudsman's office, as is to be expected in any election year, and even more so when the rhetoric and anxieties are as heightened as they are in this cycle. Many of them are being forwarded to the newsroom, but one interesting issue arose that seemed particularly worthy of a public airing.

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.

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, I've heard from a number of listeners who want NPR to start referring to the extremist group that has been identified by French authorities as the perpetrator by the name "Daesh."

Current NPR policy, as at many major English-language media outlets, is to refer to the group as "Islamic State" — which is a shortened version of the English translation of what it calls itself — with the option to add the caveats "self-described" or "self-declared."

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.