Top Media Reporter Starts Today as NPR Ombudsman

Jan 26, 2015  •  Post A Comment

By Chuck Ross

National Public Radio has a new Ombudsman/Public Editor who starts work today.

She’s Elizabeth Jensen, who is familiar to many in the TV business. Elizabeth used to be with Electronic Media a number of years ago, which is the publication that evolved into TVWeek. In addition, she had continued to do freelance work for us over the years.

We are huge fans of Elizabeth and think she will do an excellent job as the Ombudsman/Public Editor for NPR. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

This is from the NPR press release:

NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn [has] appointed Elizabeth Jensen, a veteran media and business reporter, to be the organization’s next Ombudsman/Public Editor. Jensen will begin her three-year appointment on January 26, serving as the public’s representative to NPR and responsible for bringing transparency to matters of journalism and journalism ethics.

Jensen was selected following an extensive national search that found her uniquely qualified for the position. Writing since 2005 for The New York Times, Current and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others, she has covered public broadcasting and the media industry, reporting on topics including changing funding models and sustainability strategies for public broadcasting; leadership at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and NPR; the intersection of media and politics; children’s programs; documentary film and non-profit journalism startups.

“Elizabeth is a widely respected journalist with a deep understanding of public broadcasting and will bring the highest level of integrity to this vitally important role,” Mohn said. “Our listeners will be well-served by her knowledge and experience from decades of covering the media industry. She will play a significant role in fulfilling NPR’s commitment to transparency.”

Jensen added, “I have covered NPR and public media for much of my career, occasionally critically when warranted, but I am also a devoted longtime listener. The mission of this remarkable news organization remains as important as it has ever been, even as the media landscape rapidly changes. As NPR’s ombudsman I look forward to engaging with other listeners and helping to bring transparency to NPR’s journalistic decision-making, just in a new forum.”

In 2000, NPR became the first U.S. broadcast news organization to create an Ombudsman position. The Ombudsman receives tens of thousands of listener inquiries annually and responds to significant queries, comments and criticisms. Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR’s Ombudsman since June 2011, concludes his appointment at the end of this month.

Prior to her work at The New York Times and Current, Jensen was a New York-based staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she covered network television, PBS, NPR and cable programming. In that role, Jensen chronicled the reinvention of Sesame Workshop, the rise of Univision and the lack of network programming diversity, and broke the story of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s partisan 2004 campaign activities.

Previously, Jensen was a senior writer for the national media watchdog consumer magazine Brill’s Content, and before that, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where her beats included broadcast television and food and alcohol. Earlier in her career, Jensen reported for the New York Daily News, Variety and Electronic Media. At New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, she is an adjunct professor, teaching food journalism.

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.

Jensen will be based in New York and have a regular presence in Washington, DC. Her roles with The New York Times and Current will end when she begins at NPR.

jensen_elizabethPhoto by James Wrona

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