Edward Schumacher-Matos

Edward Schumacher-Matos is the ombudsman for NPR. His column can be found on NPR.org here.

Having spent more than three decades as a reporter and editor in the United States and abroad for some of the nation's most prestigious news outlets, and having founded his own newspapers, Schumacher-Matos has a deep understanding of the essential role that journalists play in upholding a vital democracy. He also intimately understands the demands that reporters and editors face every day.

Immediately prior to joining NPR in June 2011, Schumacher-Matos wrote a syndicated weekly column for The Washington Post and was the ombudsman for The Miami Herald. Earlier, he founded four Spanish-language daily newspapers in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and the Rio Grande Valley; served as the founding editor and associate publisher of the Wall Street Journal's Spanish and Portuguese insert editions in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal; and reported for The New York Times as Madrid Bureau Chief, Buenos Aires Bureau Chief, and the paper's NYC economic development reporter.

At The Philadelphia Inquirer, Schumacher-Matos was part of the team that won a 1980 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident. He began his varied career covering small towns for the Quincy Patriot Ledger south of Boston, and as a "super stringer' for The Washington Post, in Japan, South Korea, and New England.

For nearly the last four years, while writing his Post and Herald columns, Schumacher-Matos was also at Harvard University. He was the Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professor in Latin American Studies at the Kennedy School of Government; a Shorenstein Fellow on the Press, Politics and Public Policy; and director of the Migration and Integration Studies Program. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of IE University Graduate School of Business in Madrid and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California. He also is active in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, and the Inter American Press Association.

Schumacher-Matos received his Master of Arts degree in International Politics and Economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Literature from Vanderbilt University. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Japan.

Growing up in a military family, he volunteered to join the Army during the Vietnam War. His service in Vietnam earned him the Bronze Star. He was born in Colombia and came to the United States as an immigrant child.

Pages

NPR Ombudsman
7:47 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 2: Abuse In Taking Children From Families?

Big Foot's camp three weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre (Dec. 29, 1890), with bodies of several Lakota Sioux people wrapped in blankets in the foreground and U.S. soldiers in the background.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 11:19 am

The Allegation: Indian children are being forcibly removed from their families and put into foster care at high rates that reflect widespread or systematic abuse by the state Department of Social Services.

The best case in defense of the NPR series on Indian foster care in South Dakota is in the first hearing of the story. You have a hard heart if you don't get goose bumps.

The weaknesses emerge when you start taking apart the transcript.

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NPR Ombudsman
7:46 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 4: The Mystery Of A Missing $100 Million

A herd of pronhorn antelope stretches across the snowy landscape of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.
Steve McEnroe AP

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 11:20 am

Allegation: South Dakota receives almost $100 million a year in federal reimbursements for foster care of Native Americans.

A cartoon poster summoned Lakota Indians to the May summit on foster care. "South Dakota receives $100 million each year from Washington D.C. for foster care," declared the poster, and highlighted the amount in red.

"Shouldn't this funding go to the tribes so that they can handle their own foster care needs?" It is a good question. A big red "Yes" followed.

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NPR Ombudsman
7:46 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 5: Who Is To Blame For Native Children In White Homes?

Sioux children as they arrived at the Indian School at Carlisle Barracks, Oct. 5 1879.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 11:20 am

Allegation: Indian foster children are put in white homes at extraordinarily high rates, reflecting systematic cultural bias and violating the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.

"Kill the Indian in him and save the man," said Capt. Richard Henry Pratt, the 19th century founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. It was a prescription that became a model for Indian boarding schools that often coerced attendance and forced Indian children to change their language, dress and manners.

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NPR Ombudsman
7:46 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 6: Where It All Went Wrong — The Framing

A highway that runs from Scenic, S.D. towards the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Marilyn Angel Wynn Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 11:20 am

How could the NPR series have gone so wrong? After all, many talented people with a rigorous dedication to truth worked on it.

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NPR Ombudsman
11:11 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Open Forum

istockphoto.com

You're invited to use this space to discuss media, policy and NPR's journalism. We'll follow the conversation and share it with the newsroom.

Please stay within the community discussion rules, among them:

  • If you can't be polite, don't say it: ...please try to disagree without being disagreeable. Focus your remarks on positions, not personalities.

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NPR Ombudsman
5:11 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Getting The Bedfellows Of Immigration Policy Right

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, testifies on Capitol Hill on Monday, April 22, 2013. When interviewed by Michel Martin on Tell Me More in June, Kirkorian was identified as having a "more restrictionist approach" to immigration.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

The current opposition by House Republicans to the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate might give the image of immigration as a left-right issue. It is not.

As University of Oregon professor Daniel Tichenor put it in his acclaimed book, Dividing Line: The Politics of Immigration Control, immigration has been one of those vexing matters since the founding of the Republic that brings together "strange bedfellows."

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NPR Ombudsman
12:55 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

The 'Hot' Female Senator and the Rule of Reversibility

I wanted to spark a debate and got an earful.

Still, the many comments I received to my July 9 column on referring to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as "perky" and speaking with a "girlie" voice were so generally insightful that I thought I might pick up on them here.

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NPR Ombudsman
4:43 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Regional Bias And How NPR Covers America

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 2:28 pm

It is a persistent complaint among listeners: NPR has a regional bias, and it favors the East and West coasts.

"It is past time that NPR relocated its headquarters away from Washington, D.C.," admonished Gregory Elmes, a professor at West Virginia University, where he teaches geology and, fittingly, geography. "Somewhere like St. Louis, Mo. or Denver, Co. might provide your reporters, analysts and hosts with a wider perspective representative of a much broader sweep of the United States."

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NPR Ombudsman
12:26 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Mideast Report: April — June, 2013

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 8:46 am

Former foreign editor John Felton conducts quarterly, independent, reviews of NPR's Israeli-Palestinian coverage. His second-quarter 2013 report is now available online.

Felton reviewed the 51 radio stories, interviews and other reports that aired on NPR's daily radio shows from April through June, as well as 25 blogs, news stories and other reports carried exclusively on NPR's website.

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NPR Ombudsman
5:51 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Listening To You And The Talk Of The Nation

Neal Conan leaves the studio after signing off for the last time as host of Talk of the Nation. He was greeted by a standing ovation from the newsroom.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 4:59 pm

I feel your pain.

Hundreds of you have written to complain about the cancellation of Talk of the Nation. If there is a common thread to your comments — other than anger and disappointment at NPR — it is that you really liked that Talk of the Nation spent time to dig into subjects. A three-minute news story on Morning Edition became a 15 or 30-minute discussion with experts and with ordinary Americans phoning in from across the country.

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NPR Ombudsman
5:48 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

The Honorable 'Girlie' Senator From The State Of New York

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand asks a question of a witness on Tuesday, June 4 during a hearing on pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 2:03 pm

How do you describe a woman who is short, feminine and has a soft voice? Do you describe any woman you meet in the same way as, say, you would a United States senator?

This was the dilemma faced by another woman who, until joining NPR in February, was an accomplished police and terrorism reporter working the mean streets of New York. Ailsa Chang was so good at WNYC that I invited her to speak to my class at Columbia Journalism School last year.

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NPR Ombudsman
3:19 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Open Forum

istockphoto.com

You're invited to use this space to discuss media, policy and NPR's journalism. We'll follow the conversation and share it with the newsroom.

Please stay within the community discussion rules, among them:

  • If you can't be polite, don't say it: ...please try to disagree without being disagreeable. Focus your remarks on positions, not personalities.

Read more
NPR Ombudsman
6:10 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Mideast Report: January — March 2013

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 3:54 pm

Former foreign editor John Felton conducts quarterly, independent, reviews of NPR's Israeli-Palestinian coverage. His first-quarter 2013 report is now available online.

Felton reviewed the 81 radio stories, interviews and other reports that aired on NPR's daily radio shows from January through March, as well as 34 blogs, news stories and other reports carried exclusively on NPR's website.

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NPR Ombudsman
2:56 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Just Tell Me When It's Over: Play-By-Play Coverage In Selecting The New Pope

Jorge Mario Bergoglio attends his first Mass with cardinals as Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel on March 14, 2013 in Vatican City.
Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 3:46 pm

After the last month, many of us understandably are pope-ed out.

"It feels like NPR now stands for National Papal Radio. I am exhausted by the coverage of the pope," wrote Sean O'Brien of Charlottesville, Va., one of the more than 200 people who sent messages of complaint.

"I have found myself turning off the radio rather than listen to yet another story about the selection of the next pope, what they wear, who makes their clothes, what the last Pope thought, why he resigned, yada, yada, yada," Paula Szabo from Ormond Beach, Fl., wrote.

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NPR Ombudsman
5:07 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

The Dangers Of Dope-Smoking Ascetics in Kathmandu

Sri Lankan Hindus receive blessings from a priest holding an oil lamp during the Maha Shivaratri festival at a temple in Colombo on March 10, 2013.
Ishara S. Kodikara AFP/Getty Images

It was a short comment stuck in the middle of a 13-second item in a 10 a.m. hourly newscast. The editor said the purpose was to give a break to the intensive coverage of the search for a new Roman Catholic pope, who had not yet been selected, by giving attention to another of the world's great religions, Hinduism.

Many Hindus, however, were neither appreciative nor amused.

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NPR Ombudsman
4:32 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Elderly, Old Or Ainé: Three Provocative Takes On A Label

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 4:55 pm

My recent post on use of the world "elderly" struck a nerve among many in the over-60 set. Three of the responses were particularly eloquent and with very different views. One offers a French lesson from Quebec, another sees answers in her old pottery and the third is from a certain cantankerous Morning Edition sports commentator and prolific author who says we should all grow up.

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NPR Ombudsman
12:02 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Let Me Live Long, But Don't You Dare Call Me Old

A traffic sign in the U.K. depicts "elderly people" as frail and hunched over. It was first created in the 80s, but many now consider it out of date.
istockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 2:31 pm

Who are the "elderly"?

Or let's get more personal. Who, when they get past the age of 60, wants to be called "elderly"? For you 20-something hot shots, this will be you, too, some day.

Dian Sparling, an actively working 71-year-old midwife, was horrified when a story about her carried a title online: "For Elderly Midwife, Delivering Babies Never Gets Old."

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NPR Ombudsman
4:47 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Did I Hear What I Thought I Heard?

Sports commentator Howard Bryant mentioned the NRA in response to a question on Weekend Edition about Oprah Winfrey's interview with Lance Armstrong.
George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 10:08 am

Occasionally listeners think they heard something on NPR programming that was never said. This was not one of those times.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, ESPN's Howard Bryant appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon to talk about sports. The broadcast was taped live. Simon asked about Lance Armstrong's famous interview with Oprah Winfrey, and Bryant referred back to a tweet he read:

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NPR Ombudsman
11:56 am
Thu February 7, 2013

When Reporting From An African 'Village' Is Imperial Arrogance – And Not

Malian soldiers patrol in Diabaly, Mali on Jan. 22, 2013. Dialaby was one of the places referred to as a "village" on NPR.
Issouf Sanogo Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 5:52 pm

Some listeners rightfully have sensitive cultural antenna for reports from developing nations that smack of offensive exoticism from the heart of darkness. But one person's offense is another person's reality. This was nowhere more true than in an insightful exchange over the seemingly innocuous labeling of a "village" versus a "town."

Cindy Bates of Roslindale, Mass., sent this:

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NPR Ombudsman
1:50 pm
Sun January 27, 2013

Allowing Hagel To Be Called 'Anti-Semitic' On NPR

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel speaks after President Barack Obama nominated him for secretary of defense during an event at the White House on Jan. 7, 2013.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 12:49 pm

When Elliott Abrams, a foreign policy official in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, called former Sen. Chuck Hagel "anti-Semitic" on All Things Considered, many listeners were enraged.

"How dare you NPR - how dare you allow discredited neocon hack Elliott Abrams to smear and mislead about Chuck Hagel on my Public Air Waves," wrote Larry James of Fairfax Station, Va. "Questioning Israel's actions from time to time is not anti-Semitism."

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