High Plains Public Radio

Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

As the NPR Ethics Handbook states, the Standards & Practices editor is "charged with cultivating an ethical culture throughout our news operation. This means he or she coordinates regular training and discussion on how we apply our principles and monitors our decision-making practices to ensure we're living up to our standards."

Before becoming Standards & Practices editor, Memmott was one of the hosts of NPR's "The Two-Way" news blog, which he helped to launch when he came to NPR in 2009. It focuses on breaking news, analysis, and the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Prior to joining NPR, Memmott worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor at USA Today. He focused on a range of coverage from politics, foreign affairs, economics, and the media. He reported from places across the United States and the world, including half a dozen trips to Afghanistan in 2002-2003.

During his time at USA Today, Memmott, helped launch and lead three USAToday.com news blogs: "On Deadline," "The Oval" and "On Politics," the site's 2008 presidential campaign blog.

With the death toll continuing to rise and likely to exceed 300, the captain and crew of the ferry that sank last week off the coast of South Korea have been called cowards and accused of murder. Now, though, we're also hearing about the heroic acts of some among the 29-member crew — seven of whom either are confirmed to have died or are missing. "Passengers recall moments of quiet bravery from the crew," The Associated Press reports . One passenger, Koo Bon-hee, 36, told the wire service ...

The California teenager who survived a 5 1/2 hour flight to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 was "just a runaway kid with a bad idea," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon says. Simon also says, according to The San Jose Mercury News , that the unidentified boy's lousy idea wasn't very well thought out: "He ran for the nearest plane. This was not a well-planned thing." We're learning a bit more about the teen's amazing trip, which we first reported about on Monday . As you probably know by now...

The amazing story of a 16-year-old California boy who the FBI says survived a 5 1/2-hour flight in the frigid wheel well of a jet that flew from San Jose to Hawaii on Sunday raises a logical question: How does one survive a trip like that when the temperature would have dropped to more than 50 degrees below zero and the air would have been thinner than that at the top of Mount Everest? Well, as it turns out there have been cases of such survival before, and there's a theory about why the...

Disturbing news from Nigeria about girls kidnapped last week from their school by Islamist extremists grew even more distressing on Monday when parents told authorities that 234 of the young women are still missing. That's nearly triple the number — 85 — that officials have been reporting. According to The Associated Press : "The higher figure came out a week after the kidnappings when the Borno state governor insisted a military escort take him to the town [of Chibok]. Parents told the...

Friday's tragedy on Mount Everest in which at least 13 Sherpa guides were killed in an avalanche has led others among that group of Nepalese who lead foreigners up the world's tallest mountain to issue some demands — and threaten to boycott the soon-to-start climbing season if their requests aren't granted. Time reports that : "Sunday's call to action comes as the Nepalese government mulls calling off the 2014 climbing season on the world's highest peak. According to the Himalayan Times , a...

"Aviation experts call it a miracle," says Honolulu's KHON-TV . "The FBI says a 16-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii, and survived. The boy is expected to fully recover." Update at 11:33 p.m. EDT: The AP is now saying the boy is 15, not 16, as was earlier reported. Our original report continues: According to The Maui News , the unidentified teen survived the trip "halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000...

"The conduct of the captain and some crew members is wholly unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated." Yonhap News says that was the word Monday from South Korean President Park Geun-hye as she spoke with senior aides about last week's ferry disaster , which is feared to have killed about 300 people — most of them high school students who were on a trip to a popular resort island. CNN has a slightly different...

We don't need to go on at length about why today's running of the Boston Marathon is important. We all know it's the first since the bombings near the finish line of last year's race . The explosions killed three people and injured another 260 or so. In the four days that followed, authorities say, the two suspects murdered an MIT campus police officer. One of the two brothers accused of carrying out the bombings then died after a gun battle with police. The other is in custody. The young...

"Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?" former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday . "We don't have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law it cannot exist," the Russian leader responded. Well, as NPR's Tom Gjelten tweets , the bipartisan Center for Strategic & International Studies has now provided "an actual answer" to Snowden's query. Here are...

A sign now outside the small library at a religious school for girls in Pakistan's capital says the room has been named for a martyr — Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaida terrorist network was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. "For us he was a hero of Islam," a school spokesman tells Agence France-Presse . The school in Islamabad is run by "hardline cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, the imam of the city's Lal...

"Armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said Friday that they were not bound by an international deal ordering them to disarm and were looking for more assurances about their security before leaving the public buildings they are holding," Reuters reports . What's more, "the separatists' spokesman told the BBC that the Kiev government was 'illegal,' so they would not go until the Kiev government stepped down." The Washington Post sums up the situation this way : "The pro-Russian...

At least 12 Sherpa guides died Friday on Nepal's side of Mount Everest when an avalanche buried them on the world's tallest mountain. The death toll may go higher: The Himalayan Times reports that while 12 bodies have been recovered, an additional body "has been sighted buried in the snow," and that as the day ended another five Sherpas were still missing. CNN quotes a Nepalese Tourism Ministry official as saying at least four Sherpas were still unaccounted for. We will watch for updates....

The captain of the South Korean ferry that sank earlier this week in the Yellow Sea, leaving at least 28 dead and hundreds missing, has been arrested, along with two other crew members, South Korea's Yonhap news agency says . The 69-year-old captain, Lee Jun-Seok, faces five counts including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law, Yonhap says. Lee, who was taken into custody on Saturday (local time), was reportedly among the first to leave the stricken vessel, but he made a public...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wXnTtKKSrg Though they concede it's unlikely the public was endangered, officials in Portland, Ore., have decided to drain 38 million gallons of water from a reservoir after a young man was observed urinating into it on Wednesday. Our colleagues at Oregon Public Broadcasting note that the crime was caught on video — from a distance. "Three unidentified men," OPB writes, "were cited for trespassing after being stopped at the site early Wednesday morning. One was...

This post was updated at 5:50 p.m. ET. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports that Nigeria's defense ministry has retracted its earlier claim that they missing schoolgirls were free. "[A] report was filed in from the field indicating that a major breakthrough had been recorded in the search," the ministry said in a statement. "There was no reason to doubt this official channel, hence the information was released to the public immediately," it said. "Surprisingly however, the school principal, one...

This post was updated with a new top at 4:10 p.m. ET. Diplomats from the U.S., Ukraine, Russia and the European Union emerged Thursday from a meeting that wasn't expected to accomplish much saying they had made progress toward resolving the crisis in Ukraine. "We worked hard and we worked in good faith in order to narrow our real differences," Secretary of State John Kerry said following the meeting in Geneva. He and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the four parties at...

There were 304,000 first-time claims filed for unemployment insurance last week, up just 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 302,000, the Employment and Training Administration said Thursday . The scant increase means claims continued to run near their lowest pace since May 2007 — seven months before the economy slipped into its latest recession. That downturn officially ended in June 2009 , but job growth has remained relatively sluggish for much of the time since then....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1yH554emkY Saying that because they're both former spies they can speak the same language, Russian President Vladimir Putin told "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden on Thursday that his nation does not have a "mass system" that collects data about Russian citizens' phone calls and other electronic communications. The exchange between the young American who has leaked information about U.S. surveillance efforts and the Russian leader came during Putin's annual...

This post will be updated as news comes in. A second day of dangerous efforts to reach any survivors has ended with still no sign of the nearly 300 people — most of them high school students — believed to be trapped aboard a South Korean ferry that has capsized in the Yellow Sea. South Korean coast guard authorities said Thursday that divers have not been able to get into any of the cabins aboard the overturned ship, the Sewol. Bad weather and rough seas are said to be hampering the search...

A federal judge said Wednesday that Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may see autopsy photos of the three people who died after the explosions near the finish line of last year's race . District Judge George O'Toole "rejected a claim by the government that Tsarnaev should not see the photos because it would disturb the families of the victims," NBC News writes . The news network adds that: "Under court rules, lawyers for Tsarnaev are allowed to see the photos as they prepare...

9:45 a.m. ET, April 17: The latest developments have changed this story. We've put up a news post with this headline: Fate Of Girls Abducted In Nigeria Now Uncertain . Our post from April 16: Most of the 100 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped have been freed, Nigeria's military reports. Only eight are still unaccounted for. Soldiers, "vigilantes and volunteers," CNN writes , had been searching for the students who were reportedly in the hands of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram....

Families and friends who have wondered since 1971 about what happened to two South Dakota girls now have some closure. Authorities said Tuesday that they believe Pamela Jackson and Cheryl Miller died when their 1960 Studebaker Lark accidentally went off a gravel road and into a local creek. "All the evidence would appear to indicate an accident," South Dakota Attorney Gen. Marty Jackley said. Among the clues, according to Sioux Falls' Argus Leader : The car "was in third gear, with the keys...

Confusion continues to reign in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia gunmen remain in control of many government offices even as the Ukrainian military sends in troops, tanks and armed aircraft in an attempt to dislodge them. According to NPR's Ari Shapiro, who is in eastern Ukraine, locals who are pushing to separate from the central government and join the Russian Federation claim that at least some Ukrainian troops are refusing to move against them. In the city of Slovyansk, Ari reported on...

This post is being updated as news comes in. Unsuccessful in their attempts to find the missing in a sunken ferry off the southern coast of South Korea overnight, rescue divers resumed their search at day break Thursday, Jason Strother reports from Seoul. A day after the boat began to sink, the cause of the accident is unclear and less than half of the passengers who were on board have been rescued, Strother tells NPR's Newscast Desk. Most of those unaccounted for are high school students who...

One of the least imaginative, but always popular, stories for an editor to assign in years past was the annual Tax Day frenzy at the local post office. Younger Two-Way readers may not know this, but before e-filing was the thing to do, many procrastinators would wait until the last possible moment to finish their federal tax returns. And many post offices would keep staff on hand until midnight so that those returns could be postmarked before April 15 turned into April 16. Now? "Post offices...

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was ordered Tuesday to spend at least four hours a week for the next year doing community service at a center for the elderly, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast Desk. As she says, the ruling comes more than eight months after Berlusconi was convicted "for masterminding a complex tax fraud at his TV network." While Berlusconi was given a four-year prison sentence, that was later commuted to one-year and then to either home arrest or...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUpXMhnamvo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gwkSqr5mOg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H20HZQEkW_k This post was updated at 11:45 a.m. ET. The 73-year-old man accused of killing three people Sunday in a hate-fueled attack at Jewish centers in Overland Park, Kan., awaits a date in court later today. He's to be charged with one count of capital murder and one count of premeditated murder, local prosecutors announced Tuesday morning. Federal hate crime charges are...

Ukraine's acting president says his nation's military has begun "an anti-terrorist operation" aimed at pushing armed pro-Russia demonstrators out of the government buildings in eastern Ukraine that they have occupied for several days. The effort appears to have begun in the city of Slovyansk, NPR's Ari Shapiro said Tuesday on Morning Edition , though by early evening in Ukraine it was still unclear what — if anything — had happened. Reuters was reporting that "the crackdown has not been...

There were "whistles, cheers and howls" early Tuesday on the grounds of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles as the moon turned red during a total lunar eclipse. As the Los Angeles Times adds , "Telescopes dotting the lawn pointed upward and southward, as the moon hovered above the observatory" and visitors who had packed the grassy lawn "scrambled toward the front of Griffith Observatory, pointing up at the reddening moon." The view was great across much of the Americas, though clouds...

The crisis in Ukraine has taken on even more of a Cold War-era feel after a Russian warplane made nearly a dozen low passes over the weekend of a U.S. destroyer that was sailing in the Black Sea. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, calls the Russian flybys "provocative and unprofessional," NPR's Tom Bowman reports. According to the Pentagon, the Russian SU-24 attack aircraft came within several thousand feet of the USS Donald Cook on Saturday and ignored multiple radio warnings from the...

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