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Essay Paper UPSC 2022 (Mains): Question Paper and Analysis

Last updated on September 16, 2022 by ClearIAS Team

Essay Paper UPSC 2022

The Essay Paper in UPSC CSE 2022 was easy compared to previous years. Please find the questions in the Essay Paper of the UPSC 2022 Civil Services Mains Examination (written).

UPSC conducted the Essay Paper , as part of the Civil Services Main Exam 2022 on 16-09-2022. The question paper was not as shocking as last year.

There were 8 Essay topics, out of which candidates were asked to write on two topics in 3 hours.

Candidates were supposed to answer about 1000 words for each essay (about 10-12 pages).

Table of Contents

Essay Paper UPSC 2022 Instructions

  • Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.
  • The essay must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.
  • No marks will be given for answers written in a medium other than the authorized one.
  • Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.

Essay Question Paper – UPSC Civil Services Main Exam (Written) 2022

Write two essays, choosing one topic from each of the following Sections A and B, in about 1000-1200 words each:

  • Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence.
  • Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
  • History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man.
  • A ship in the harbour is safe but that is not what a ship is for.
  • The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
  • You cannot step twice in the same river.
  • Smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities.
  • Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right.

UPSC , as always, has ensured that the essay topics were much different from the GS questions.

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A philosophical theme is clearly evident in most of the essay topics in Section A as well as Section B. This was the case in 2020 and 2021 as well. It is a clue about what UPSC expects from the essay paper.

Rather than asking candidates to write on topics most aspirants are familiar with or trained with, UPSC is now evaluating the essay writing skills of aspirants by providing them with abstract or philosophical topics. 

This year, most of the topics were either proverbs or famous quotes.

All 8 topics presented this year will test the spontaneous thinking, comprehension, writing skills, and time management of aspirants.

Thinkers, Philosophers, and their Quotes

Let’s analyse the source of some of the question topics.

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POETS ARE THE UNACKNOWLEDGED LEGISLATORS OF THE WORLD 

This essay topic is one of the best-known and most frequently quoted lines from the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822).

Shelley thinks that poets can institute laws and create new materials for knowledge, determining the role of poets as legislators. 

Shelley’s account of poetic language seeks to find an order to the chaos, which, possibly, Shelley sees in human society: the mess that only poets can fathom. 

Therefore, he thinks, the poets’ enhanced poetic language can re-institute order in human society. 

A SHIP IN HARBOUR IS SAFE BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT A SHIP IS FOR 

This essay topic is connected with John A Shedd , an author and professor, who is attributed to this quote. Reference: his book Salt from My Attic , a collection of quotes and sayings (1928).

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This phrase means, that getting out of your comfort zone is key to experiencing new things and broadening your horizons.

Only taking risks helps us grow as people—to either achieve our goals or do the things we’ve always wanted to do.

THE TIME  TO REPAIR THE ROOF IS WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING 

This essay topic was connected with John F. Kennedy. In his 1962 State of the Union Address, John F. Kennedy declared, “The best time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”.

The primary message of the quote is fixing a leak is best done when the weather is good, rather than when it is not.

Ideally, you should begin the work of fixing the roof as soon after the leak was found. The first sunny day would be ideal. It is not easy to fix a roof when it is raining.

This statement is being used to remind us to do the right things at the right time. It also points us to take the advantage of favourable time.

YOU CAN NOT STEP TWICE IN THE SAME RIVER 

This essay topic was quoted by Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 b.c.

This means that you cannot step into the same river twice because the flow of the river will change each second. You will also change each second.

It is not possible to repeat past experiences, as time changes all things. You won’t get the exact experience twice. You need to live in the present and enjoy each moment.

A SMILE IS A CHOSEN VEHICLE FOR ALL AMBIGUITIES 

This essay topic was quoted by Herman Melville, an American novelist.

JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE A CHOICE DOES NOT MEAN THAT ANY OF THEM HAS TO BE RIGHT 

This essay topic was quoted by Norton Juster, an American academic, architect, and writer in his book The Phantom Tollbooth

What should aspirants preparing for next year do for an essay paper?

First of all, you should take the essay paper seriously.

Unless properly trained, it is not easy to write 10-12 pages on an abstract or philosophical topic.

You need to polish your comprehension and analytical skills.

Read different kinds of essays – particularly philosophical essays.

Give stress to the thoughts of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Friedrich Niche, Karl Marx etc. Start writing essays on famous quotes.

Also, be prepared to write essays touching on other areas like society, politics, economy, or technology. UPSC is known for surprises.

Remember that there is nothing like a constant trend with respect to UPSC questions.

What you get by analysing the previous year’s question papers are clues. And only those are what you need from UPSC questions!

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Mains Sampoorna: An Innovative Approach of Essay Writing for UPSC

  • Published 9th Jun, 2022

Mains Sampoorna: An Innovative Approach of Essay Writing for UPSC

While preparing for the UPSC examination , most candidates make the mistake of preparing and practicing the essay by keeping it to the last minute. In doing so they do not focus much on essay writing and tend to lose marks and even miss the UPSC final list. This document is prepared to remove fear from the candidate's mind regarding essay writing and make them comfortable with the technicalities of the essay.

The given document on 'An Innovative Approach of Essay Writing for UPSC' under the Mains Sampoorna , comprises a unique understanding and approach to essay writing. This encompasses a brief overview of the essay and a step-by-step guide on analyzing and writing an essay. Some of the primary key terms that are often used while discussing essays, such as context, critical thinking, and perspective, are also discussed in the such as context, critical thinking, and perspective are also discussed along with the suitable examples in this document. Including the discussion of various parts of the essay and its key terms, the Model Hints of UPSC 2021 are also provided. This will help aspirants in understanding essay writing in an easier way and guide them towards getting good marks in UPSC Main Examination.

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UPSC Mains 2022 Essay Question Paper - Download PDF

The UPSC Mains Essay paper was conducted on Friday, 16th September 2022, in the forenoon session (9 AM to 12 PM). The UPSC Mains 2022 is set to take place on 16, 17, 18, 24 and 25th September 2022.

For other papers in the Mains segment of UPSC, candidates can further check the UPSC Mains 2022 Question Papers page at their own behest.

UPSC Mains Essay Questions 2022 – Download PDF Here

UPSC Mains 2022 Essay Questions

The UPSC Essay paper segment consists of two sections. They are Section A and Section B. Both sections have about four questions each. The candidates have to choose one topic from each section, thus having to answer 2 essay questions in total.

The word limit for each question is to be within the range of 1000-1200 words. The mark for each question is 125, thus, the total allotted marks are about 250.

The paper will be included in the merit ranking.

The Essay Topics asked in the UPSC Mains 2022 are given below:

  • Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence.
  • Pets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
  • History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man.
  • A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ship is for.

Section – B

1. The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.

2. You cannot step twice in the same river.

3. A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities.

4. Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right.

Candidates can also refer to the UPSC Mains 2021 Essay Questions , in the given link.

Some of the useful links for the candidates to prepare for an essay paper are as follows:

The candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. While answering the essay questions, the aspirants are expected to keep close to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly manner and to write concisely. It is important to remember that credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

To download the question paper PDFs of General Studies papers, the aspirants can check the links below:

The candidates can also download the question paper PDFs of UPSC Mains 2022 Optional Paper from the linked article.

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UPSC IAS Mains 2022 Examinations have started with the essay paper. After the completion of the examination in the first session, UPSC IAS Mains 2022 Essay Question Paper is out. If you are preparing for the 2023 examination, you can go through the question paper and check the type of topics that are being asked.

Download pdf of UPSC IAS Mains 2022 – Essay Question Paper or View the Images of UPSC IAS Mains 2022 – Essay Question Paper below:

  • Forests are the best case studies of economic excellence
  • Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world
  • History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic men
  • A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what a ship is meant for
  • The time to repair the roof is when sun is shining
  • You cannot step twice in the same river
  • A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities
  • Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right

essay material pdf 2022

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Highly-selective colleges and universities often require supplemental application materials. These materials help further personalize the admissions process so that each college’s admissions committee has the information it needs to select a vibrant and diverse incoming class. 

In this article, we will look at 10 supplemental essay prompts from top colleges and universities for the 2022-23 admissions cycle. Once you get a better sense of what to expect from a supplemental essay prompt, we will outline key strategies for answering these prompts, as well as provide practical writing tips to help you get started.

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What are supplemental essays and are they important?

Each college has its own sets of values and criteria that it looks for in applicants. This is why determining college fit is so important. By carefully researching each school on your college list and having several clear and compelling reasons for wanting to attend, you will increase your overall chances of admission.    

One way that colleges gauge whether or not a student would be a good fit for their university is by posing unique supplemental essay prompts. This is why knowing how to write a supplemental essay is so important. Most colleges with supplemental essays will have applicants write the “why this college” essay . 

Many selective colleges will require additional supplemental essays as well. In some cases, you will need to prepare an additional five essays per school, so give yourself plenty of time to complete each essay thoughtfully, write multiple drafts, seek out feedback, and proofread. The college application process can feel overwhelming at times, so make sure you brainstorm ways to stay organized during the college application process . 

Although the style and content of the actual prompts can vary greatly, at the core these prompts have one thing in common: They are designed to get to know who you are as a person, what your values are, and whether you demonstrate compatibility with the university’s overall mission. 

How to write supplemental essays

If you’re looking for supplemental essay tips, you’ve come to the right place! In this section, we will discuss how to write a good supplemental essay, by providing several key application essay tips. 

To start, it’s important to remember that the process of writing supplemental essays is similar to the process of writing a successful personal statement . Review components of a strong personal statement to give yourself a fresh perspective before beginning your supplemental essays.

Tips for writing supplemental essays

Supplemental essays are typically pretty brief. This is why it’s important to learn how to write concisely and powerfully. Having very few words to respond does not mean that you should prepare your responses casually or that your responses shouldn’t include lots of details. Rather, approach each word limit creatively. Whether you have 50 words, 200 words, or 500 words, try to use each sentence and detail to your advantage. One of the best ways to do this is to begin by freewriting. Write down everything that comes to mind. Take time to fully flush out your ideas. Then review what you’ve written and see what feels most important. These are the details you will want to highlight in your response.

Some colleges will require three to five additional essays. Maybe even more! This is why it’s important to be prepared and plan ahead. Supplemental essays are an important part of your college application and they require a lot of time and effort. While some supplemental essay prompts may be similar between schools, in general, you want to avoid recycling your college essays. Admissions officers can tell when a student is tweaking an existing essay to fit a prompt.

While some essay prompts are required, others are optional. In general, try to answer each prompt thoughtfully and creatively. After all, it’s no secret that college admissions are highly competitive so it’s great to give your application “an edge” whenever possible. That said, there are times when you should pass on writing an optional essay. If you’re not sure whether or not you should submit an essay for an optional prompt, begin by drafting a response. Then ask yourself if the essay feels forced or genuine. Does the essay convey something new about you that isn’t included in the rest of your application? If the question doesn’t seem to apply to you and you are genuinely unsure what to contribute, you should probably skip that particular essay. After all, no one wants to read an uninspired essay that doesn’t contribute to your overall application.

2022-23 supplemental essay prompts

As mentioned, supplemental essay prompts can vary significantly. Some prompts ask you to respond in 50 words while other prompts ask you to respond in 500 words. Some prompts focus on academics while others ask you to reflect carefully on your cultural upbringing or life philosophies. Still, other prompts will ask you to introduce who you are as a person or discuss something that you enjoy.

Just as supplemental essay prompts vary in style, your responses will also vary. Some prompts will require you to be thoughtful and serious, while other prompts may encourage you to be humorous or creative. It all depends.

Brown University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Brown University requires three supplemental essays. One of the supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)

Columbia University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Columbia University requires the following supplemental materials: 1 list of 75 words, 1 list of 125 words, 3 essays of 200 words each, and 1 short answer of 35 words. One of their supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

For the following questions, we ask that you list each individual response using commas or semicolons; the items do not have to be numbered or in any specific order. No explanatory text or formatting is needed. (For example, it is not necessary to italicize or underline titles of books or other publications. No author names, subtitles or explanatory remarks are needed.)  

List the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school. (75 words or fewer)

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Dartmouth college supplemental essay prompt.

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Dartmouth College requires three supplemental essays. One of the supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

“Be yourself,” Oscar Wilde advised. “Everyone else is taken.” Introduce yourself in 200-250 words. 

Duke University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Duke University requires at least one supplemental essay, with the option to submit an additional two supplemental essays. One of the optional supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good?

Emory University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Emory University requires two supplemental essays. One of the supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

Emory If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?

Harvard University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Harvard University requires three supplemental essays. One of the supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words)

MIT supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, MIT requires five supplemental essays. One of the supplemental essay prompts is as follows:

We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it.

Princeton University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Princeton University requires three supplemental essays and three short responses. One of the short-answer prompts is as follows:

Please respond to each question in 75 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!

What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?

What brings you joy? 

What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?

Stanford University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Stanford University requires three supplemental essays and five short answer responses. One of the short-answer prompts is as follows:

How did you spend your last two summers? (50-word limit)

UPenn supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, UPenn requires three supplemental essays. One of the supplemental essay prompts is as follows: 

Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)

Yale University supplemental essay prompt

As a part of the 2022-23 college applications, Yale University requires the following supplemental materials: 1 list; 6 short answer questions; 1 additional short essay of 400 words. One of the short answer prompts is as follows:

Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What would you ask them to discuss? (200 characters or fewer)

Supplemental essay examples

One of the best ways to prepare your supplemental essay responses is to look at successful past examples. In this section, we will look at three examples and explain why each response is successful. 

This first example was submitted as a part of Harvard’s college application. This essay is in response to the prompt: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words).

Feet moving, eyes up, every shot back, chants the silent mantra in my head. The ball becomes a beacon of neon green as I dart forward and backward, shuffling from corner to far corner of the court, determined not to let a single point escape me. With bated breath, I swing my racquet upwards and outwards and it catches the ball just in time to propel it, spinning, over the net. My heart soars as my grinning teammates cheer from the sidelines. While I greatly value the endurance, tenacity, and persistence that I have developed while playing tennis throughout the last four years, I will always most cherish the bonds that I have created and maintained each year with my team.

This essay uses rich, descriptive language to evoke a clear sense of movement and place. The first paragraph shows a creative and expert control of language, whereas the second paragraph uses straightforward language to highlight key characteristics. Overall, this response is creative, well-balanced, and uses each word to its advantage. 

Source: https://www.collegeadvisor.com/essay-guides/harvard-university-essay-examples-and-why-they-worked/  

This essay was submitted as a part of an MIT college application. The supplemental essay prompt that it addresses is: Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?

We were moving away from my home of thirteen years to go miles and miles away, from my whole life. Worst of all: away from New York City – the only place in the world worth knowing – or so I thought. The town might as well have been called “Miniscule Ville”. I resented every second of it. The real shocking thing to me was almost that anything existed outside of New York City. NYC is a world of its own, with its own pulses and lifeblood. I still think it’s a great place, and I’ll likely at least visit it someday, but right now, I want to visit everywhere. My move humbled me. I began to love nature walks, the friendly camaraderie of the small town, and saw a world I never imagined. I thought I knew it all just because I lived in New York. Here was a great place, hidden from view. I loved experiencing that new world, learning local history, and most of all, learning the life stories of my new neighbors, each one of whom had a fascinating life. My greatest dream is to be a journalist, covering other countries, and learning about new worlds and neighbors. My old perspective feels so limited. If I can share global stories, I can open up my perspective, and I can share those stories with a thousand homes so readers can learn about other perspectives as well. The world is full of different lives. Everywhere is somebody’s home.

This essay covers a lot of material; most impressively, it shows a shift in perspective and its effect on the student’s lived experience. It also clearly explains the student’s academic and professional goals. The tone of this essay is both confident and humble. It demonstrates who this student is as a person, what their goals are, and what they value.  

Source: https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/blog/mit-supplemental-essay-examples  

This essay was submitted as a part of a Duke college application. The essay addresses the prompt: What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good?

Most teachers who taught me talked a big game about wanting students to engage in debate, or “dialectic” as they called it, and to challenge their ideas. In my experience, most of this was a fabrication. The best essay grades and participation marks were found through parroting what was dictated from on high. Did the teacher think such-and-such is the “correct” interpretation of a novel? You did, too, or you lost points. None of that was true for Ms. Jackie Winters. The first essay I sent her came back with the note, “This doesn’t sound like you; it sounds like me.” I asked her about the note, and this initiated a marvelous learning environment, in which I grew faster than I ever have in any other class. Discussions were lively, and the more I presented my authentic views, the more I was respected. My grades were dependent on being backed up by rhetoric, sources, and logic, not by compliance. Due to this engagement, this was the most enjoyable English literature class I had, and I feel like my viewpoints were challenged. I learned to question my ideas and dig into a text for the best results. Best of all, I was putting in more and more effort to find good, quality sources to back up my arguments. I was held to a high standard and shown respect, and I believe that those qualities made for the best learning environment possible

This essay clearly shows a shift in perspective and the effects it had on this student’s ability to think, speak, and write critically. Structurally, this essay uses an anecdote to introduce and contextualize a topic, but the essay itself isn’t overly narrative. Rather, the student explains, in detail, how this teacher’s encouragement and guidance have influenced their willingness and ability to engage with the source material and academic discourse.

Source: https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/blog/duke-supplemental-essay-examples  

Key takeaways and moving forward

Supplemental essays are an important part of your college applications. In fact, they are a key factor in what college admissions officers look for in an applicant . Highly-selective colleges and universities use supplemental essays to further personalize the college admissions process. After all, thousands of qualified students apply to Ivy League institutions each year and only a small fraction are admitted. Supplemental essays allow you to share more about who you are as a person and as a student. Use each prompt as an opportunity to add something new to your college application. If you feel like you could benefit from professional guidance throughout this process, reach out to learn more about our services .

Frequently asked questions and answers

Still have questions about supplemental essays and the effects they have on college applications? Review the following frequently asked questions and answers for further insight on supplemental essays. 

How important are supplemental essays?

Supplemental essays are an incredibly important part of your college applications and should be properly prioritized. If a college didn’t care about your response, they wouldn’t ask you in the first place. Put plenty of time and care into your responses. Write several drafts, seek out feedback, and always proofread.

How long should supplemental essays be?

Always follow directions. Colleges will specify how long each supplemental essay should be, usually right after the prompt itself. Depending on the college, and the prompt, a supplemental essay’s word count may range anywhere from 50 to 500 words.

Do supplemental essays change every year?

It all depends on the college. Colleges often reuse past prompts, but there are no guarantees. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and make a list of supplemental essay prompts early on in the college application process.

Are supplemental essays required?

Sometimes colleges will have both required and optional supplemental essays. That said, the essay prompts are clearly labeled. In short, each college will specify whether supplemental essays are required. 

Do all colleges have supplemental essays?

No, not all colleges have supplemental essays. Highly-selective colleges, however, often require at least one additional essay.

  • December 14, 2022

Supplemental Essay Guide for 2022-23 Prompts

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NPR defends its journalism after senior editor says it has lost the public's trust

David Folkenflik 2018 square

David Folkenflik

essay material pdf 2022

NPR is defending its journalism and integrity after a senior editor wrote an essay accusing it of losing the public's trust. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

NPR is defending its journalism and integrity after a senior editor wrote an essay accusing it of losing the public's trust.

NPR's top news executive defended its journalism and its commitment to reflecting a diverse array of views on Tuesday after a senior NPR editor wrote a broad critique of how the network has covered some of the most important stories of the age.

"An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don't have an audience that reflects America," writes Uri Berliner.

A strategic emphasis on diversity and inclusion on the basis of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation, promoted by NPR's former CEO, John Lansing, has fed "the absence of viewpoint diversity," Berliner writes.

NPR's chief news executive, Edith Chapin, wrote in a memo to staff Tuesday afternoon that she and the news leadership team strongly reject Berliner's assessment.

"We're proud to stand behind the exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories," she wrote. "We believe that inclusion — among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage — is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world."

NPR names tech executive Katherine Maher to lead in turbulent era

NPR names tech executive Katherine Maher to lead in turbulent era

She added, "None of our work is above scrutiny or critique. We must have vigorous discussions in the newsroom about how we serve the public as a whole."

A spokesperson for NPR said Chapin, who also serves as the network's chief content officer, would have no further comment.

Praised by NPR's critics

Berliner is a senior editor on NPR's Business Desk. (Disclosure: I, too, am part of the Business Desk, and Berliner has edited many of my past stories. He did not see any version of this article or participate in its preparation before it was posted publicly.)

Berliner's essay , titled "I've Been at NPR for 25 years. Here's How We Lost America's Trust," was published by The Free Press, a website that has welcomed journalists who have concluded that mainstream news outlets have become reflexively liberal.

Berliner writes that as a Subaru-driving, Sarah Lawrence College graduate who "was raised by a lesbian peace activist mother ," he fits the mold of a loyal NPR fan.

Yet Berliner says NPR's news coverage has fallen short on some of the most controversial stories of recent years, from the question of whether former President Donald Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, to the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19, to the significance and provenance of emails leaked from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden weeks before the 2020 election. In addition, he blasted NPR's coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

On each of these stories, Berliner asserts, NPR has suffered from groupthink due to too little diversity of viewpoints in the newsroom.

The essay ricocheted Tuesday around conservative media , with some labeling Berliner a whistleblower . Others picked it up on social media, including Elon Musk, who has lambasted NPR for leaving his social media site, X. (Musk emailed another NPR reporter a link to Berliner's article with a gibe that the reporter was a "quisling" — a World War II reference to someone who collaborates with the enemy.)

When asked for further comment late Tuesday, Berliner declined, saying the essay spoke for itself.

The arguments he raises — and counters — have percolated across U.S. newsrooms in recent years. The #MeToo sexual harassment scandals of 2016 and 2017 forced newsrooms to listen to and heed more junior colleagues. The social justice movement prompted by the killing of George Floyd in 2020 inspired a reckoning in many places. Newsroom leaders often appeared to stand on shaky ground.

Leaders at many newsrooms, including top editors at The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times , lost their jobs. Legendary Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron wrote in his memoir that he feared his bonds with the staff were "frayed beyond repair," especially over the degree of self-expression his journalists expected to exert on social media, before he decided to step down in early 2021.

Since then, Baron and others — including leaders of some of these newsrooms — have suggested that the pendulum has swung too far.

Legendary editor Marty Baron describes his 'Collision of Power' with Trump and Bezos

Author Interviews

Legendary editor marty baron describes his 'collision of power' with trump and bezos.

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger warned last year against journalists embracing a stance of what he calls "one-side-ism": "where journalists are demonstrating that they're on the side of the righteous."

"I really think that that can create blind spots and echo chambers," he said.

Internal arguments at The Times over the strength of its reporting on accusations that Hamas engaged in sexual assaults as part of a strategy for its Oct. 7 attack on Israel erupted publicly . The paper conducted an investigation to determine the source of a leak over a planned episode of the paper's podcast The Daily on the subject, which months later has not been released. The newsroom guild accused the paper of "targeted interrogation" of journalists of Middle Eastern descent.

Heated pushback in NPR's newsroom

Given Berliner's account of private conversations, several NPR journalists question whether they can now trust him with unguarded assessments about stories in real time. Others express frustration that he had not sought out comment in advance of publication. Berliner acknowledged to me that for this story, he did not seek NPR's approval to publish the piece, nor did he give the network advance notice.

Some of Berliner's NPR colleagues are responding heatedly. Fernando Alfonso, a senior supervising editor for digital news, wrote that he wholeheartedly rejected Berliner's critique of the coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict, for which NPR's journalists, like their peers, periodically put themselves at risk.

Alfonso also took issue with Berliner's concern over the focus on diversity at NPR.

"As a person of color who has often worked in newsrooms with little to no people who look like me, the efforts NPR has made to diversify its workforce and its sources are unique and appropriate given the news industry's long-standing lack of diversity," Alfonso says. "These efforts should be celebrated and not denigrated as Uri has done."

After this story was first published, Berliner contested Alfonso's characterization, saying his criticism of NPR is about the lack of diversity of viewpoints, not its diversity itself.

"I never criticized NPR's priority of achieving a more diverse workforce in terms of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. I have not 'denigrated' NPR's newsroom diversity goals," Berliner said. "That's wrong."

Questions of diversity

Under former CEO John Lansing, NPR made increasing diversity, both of its staff and its audience, its "North Star" mission. Berliner says in the essay that NPR failed to consider broader diversity of viewpoint, noting, "In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans."

Berliner cited audience estimates that suggested a concurrent falloff in listening by Republicans. (The number of people listening to NPR broadcasts and terrestrial radio broadly has declined since the start of the pandemic.)

Former NPR vice president for news and ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin tweeted , "I know Uri. He's not wrong."

Others questioned Berliner's logic. "This probably gets causality somewhat backward," tweeted Semafor Washington editor Jordan Weissmann . "I'd guess that a lot of NPR listeners who voted for [Mitt] Romney have changed how they identify politically."

Similarly, Nieman Lab founder Joshua Benton suggested the rise of Trump alienated many NPR-appreciating Republicans from the GOP.

In recent years, NPR has greatly enhanced the percentage of people of color in its workforce and its executive ranks. Four out of 10 staffers are people of color; nearly half of NPR's leadership team identifies as Black, Asian or Latino.

"The philosophy is: Do you want to serve all of America and make sure it sounds like all of America, or not?" Lansing, who stepped down last month, says in response to Berliner's piece. "I'd welcome the argument against that."

"On radio, we were really lagging in our representation of an audience that makes us look like what America looks like today," Lansing says. The U.S. looks and sounds a lot different than it did in 1971, when NPR's first show was broadcast, Lansing says.

A network spokesperson says new NPR CEO Katherine Maher supports Chapin and her response to Berliner's critique.

The spokesperson says that Maher "believes that it's a healthy thing for a public service newsroom to engage in rigorous consideration of the needs of our audiences, including where we serve our mission well and where we can serve it better."

Disclosure: This story was reported and written by NPR Media Correspondent David Folkenflik and edited by Deputy Business Editor Emily Kopp and Managing Editor Gerry Holmes. Under NPR's protocol for reporting on itself, no NPR corporate official or news executive reviewed this story before it was posted publicly.

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