Sunday, May 29, 2005

NPR Tool

Jeff Dvorkin sure does come across as the tool that he is here:

The society of news ombudsmen has rejected an attempt by two ombudsmen from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to join their organization as full-fledged members, questioning their independence.


In April, Tomlinson took the unusual step of appointing two ombudsmen to monitor broadcasts on PBS and NPR, though NPR already had an ombudsman and PBS has been considering one. The New York Times reported earlier that Tomlinson told the president of NPR in February that he wanted one liberal ombudsmen and one conservative, a notion that injected ideology into what has traditionally been a one-person, apolitical job where credibility rests on the degree of perceived independence.

The corporation's board, which is dominated by Republicans appointed by President George W. Bush, appointed William Schulz, who has conservative leanings and was previously executive editor of Reader's Digest, and Ken Bode, a former reporter for NBC News and CNN. Bode's political orientation is less clear, but Media Matters for America, a liberal Web site (, notes that he is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative organization. He also teaches journalism at DePauw University in Indiana and was dean of the Medill School of Journalism from 1998 to 2002, at Northwestern University.


ONO's move could also heighten tensions between Tomlinson and NPR, because Jeffrey Dvorkin, the immediate past president of the ombudsman organization, is the ombudsman for NPR. Dvorkin had contacted Bode about the applications and met with him in Washington to discuss it and their attendance at the conference.

That meeting itself drew criticism from at least two other members of the ombudsmen organization, who saw Dvorkin's involvement as a conflict of interest. The corporation not only oversees financing for NPR, but the two corporation ombudsmen are in a position to review Dvorkin's work.