Elizabeth Jensen

KUOW, an NPR Member station in Seattle, said earlier this week that it will no longer air the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings live. The announcement was both praised and condemned by listeners who contacted the Public Editor's office.

Late last year, many listeners and readers rightly objected when NPR released statistics tracking the diversity of its on-air sources and didn't include a category for Native or Indigenous sources, because the numbers were so low.

New research into the diversity of NPR's on-air sources shows that in fiscal year 2018 (ended Sept. 30, 2018), the voices heard on NPR weekday newsmagazines were 83% white and 33% female.

Morning Edition listeners could not have been surprised: NPR gave them lots of heads up that new theme music was coming this week, the first change since the show went on the air 40 years ago. And the music is actually better described as "new-ish" than "new."

An announcement from NPR today is sure to make at least a couple of listeners and readers happy: NPR has changed the official title of my job to "Public Editor," from "Ombudsman."

Like other news outlets, NPR has been criticized for its coverage of the confrontation last Friday, Jan. 18, on the Washington, D.C. mall, near the Lincoln Memorial. That's when three groups of protesters intersected: a handful of protesters known as Black Hebrew Israelites; some attendees of the Indigenous People's March; and a group of Catholic high school students from Kentucky, who were waiting for a bus after taking part in the anti-abortion March for Life. Some of the latter wore "Make America Great Again" hats.

A Dec. 17 report on All Things Considered about the Indian Child Welfare Act prompted harsh criticism from the Native American Journalists Association, which called it "inaccurate and imprecise." A meeting between NAJA leaders and NPR editors resulted in a clarification being posted on the online version of the piece, but NAJA members continued to have concerns about the reporting.

NPR newsroom leaders have concluded their investigation into the work of a longtime freelance contributor, Danielle Karson, one month after they said they had discovered she had recycled sound bites in some of her radio reports.

Newsrooms aren't perfect. Trustworthy newsrooms, however, make adjustments (preferably quickly) when their errors are pointed out.

This office gets weekly complaints about what is perceived to be an imbalance in guests: There are too many Republicans interviewed and not enough Democrats. Or vice versa. Or a partisan from one side is interviewed without a corresponding counterpoint.

So I was pleased to see that NPR on Friday pulled back the curtain a bit about its attempts last week to book politicians to discuss the Paul Manafort verdict and the Michael Cohen guilty plea: The scarcity of Republican politicians, in this case (as occasionally happens with Democrats, too), wasn't for a lack of trying.

Morning Edition listeners will have noticed this week that the newscasts, or headlines, have moved around. Newscasts had aired each hour at 1 minute after the hour and again at 19 minutes and 42 minutes after the hour. Now, while there is the same amount of newscast time, it is grouped in just two breaks, at more intuitive times at the top and bottom of the hour — as was the case for most of Morning Edition's nearly four-decade history.