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.

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.

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.

In October 2011, NPR aired a three-part investigative series by reporter Laura Sullivan and producer Amy Walters alleging abuses in the foster care system for Native American children in South Dakota. With a mix of statements by the reporter and much innuendo, the series unmistakably alleges that the state's Department of Social Services was systematically removing Indian children from their families in order to collect federal reimbursements.

Open Forum

Aug 7, 2013

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.

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."

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.