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.


NPR Ombudsman
12:29 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Mideast Report: January — March 2013

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 2:54 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
6:43 pm
Sun March 17, 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 2:46 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
2:28 pm
Sat March 16, 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

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 4:07 pm

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
2:25 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

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


Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 3:55 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
8:55 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.

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 1:31 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
11:09 am
Sat March 9, 2013

'5 Broken Cameras' And Blaming The Victim On The West Bank

Emad Burnat, a Palestinian who co-directed the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, displays the cameras destroyed by Israeli settlers and security forces.
Kino Lorbor Inc. AP

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 9:15 am

In the 1980s, psychologists at Stanford University studying student reaction to television stories on the 1983 massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon discovered a curious phenomenon.

The killings were done by a Maronite Christian militia allied with Israel, which was then occupying the country. The six TV stories noted that there was some question as to how much Israeli troops empowered or allowed the slaughter.

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NPR Ombudsman
1:12 pm
Sat March 2, 2013

Fear And Trust At 'The Washington Post'

After 43 years of having an ombudsman, The Washington Post announced Friday that they are ending the position.
Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 10:16 pm

When The Washington Post in 1970 became one of the first American news organizations to have an ombudsman, it set a precedent that helped build the quality and influence of the Post and all American journalism.

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NPR Ombudsman
4:13 pm
Mon February 11, 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 9:08 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
11:48 am
Fri February 8, 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 4:52 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
1:09 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Asking Permission Or Recording History When Photographing Grief

This photograph of Aline Marie praying outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., has become the focus of a conversation surrounding ethics and photography on NPR's Picture Show blog.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 4:55 pm

It isn't common for me to draw attention to another NPR blog, but an ethics debate today on the photo blog "The Picture Show" raises questions of interest to anyone interested in news media, ethics and NPR.

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