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NPR's Ombudsman

by Ashley Grashaw
May 7, 2008

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Ashley Grashaw

Sometimes while screening calls during our show, I have to let a caller go because their phone has shoddy reception or we're running up against the wall and don't have enough time to put them on the air. To me, it makes sense, and seems justified at the time. But then I think about what it would be like to be that caller on the other end of my hang-up. Here you are, listening to a segment on NPR that got you excited enough to call in and offer your $0.02 live on the air, and you're greeted by a screener like me telling you, "Sorry, we won't be able to take your call. [Insert reason here.] But thanks for calling in and listening!" I can see how it could be infuriating at the most, and a little disappointing at the least.

NPR's Ombudsman, Lisa Shepard, is the one responsible for following up on listener complaints and questions. In other words, she keeps us honest, helps keep the peace. And she will join TOTN every so often to talk about some of the phone calls and emails she receives from listeners, and the ethical issues they raise. NPR received complaints that the description of what police found at the site of Deborah Jean Palfry's suicide was too graphic. What do you think?

When there is a death, be it a suicide, murder, car accident, or an act of war, how much do you want to know? How much should you know?

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