Tuesday, April 7, 2020

NPR Names Poynter's Kelly McBride As Public Editor

Kelly McBride
NPR has named a distinguished media ethicist as its sixth public editor, appointing Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute to fill the newsroom watchdog role at a time when many other major news outlets have abandoned it.

"The public editor represents the public interest in our journalism and helps hold us accountable to maintaining our high standards of journalism," NPR CEO John Lansing said in an interview. "And so [it's] really a critical position for us, particularly during this current [public health] crisis.

McBride, 53, will retain her job as the senior vice president of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Poynter Institute and the head of its media ethics center. Rather than hiring McBride directly, NPR has contracted with Poynter for her services. The institute will supplement McBride's work with research support. The public editor job will consume most of her efforts, however.

In an interview, McBride said she looked forward to understanding NPR's editorial choices; how the network balances coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic with other issues; why some listeners say they feel alienated from the network's news coverage on the basis of their demographic, geographic or ideological backgrounds; how the relationship between NPR and its member stations influences what listeners hear; and how the growing share of people who consume NPR's shows, news coverage, music, podcasts and other digital content may have different expectations than NPR's traditional broadcast audience.

McBride replaces Elizabeth Jensen, who ended her tenure Friday after 5 1/2 years.

A former newspaper reporter and authority on the challenges of covering sexual assault, McBride is the co-editor of a book on media ethics used as a text in many college courses. She has also taught media ethics and best practices for years at the Poynter Institute, which trains journalists.

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