Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Different Models

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Different Models

Article excerpt

All (ombuds)men are not created equal

When a newspaper decides to appoint an ombudsman, one of the first questions centers around what model is best for the organization.

Most ombudsmen are senior editors who interact to some degree with the staff. While most take readers' calls and write a column, the job is shaped to a great extent by the paper and the person doing it.

While some ombudsmen avoid news meetings, Reader Advocate Mike Clark of The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville sits in on the meetings, where he freely critiques the paper. Clark says the interaction makes for a healthier relationship. "You have to coexist with management."

Most reader reps don't have policy-making power, and ombuds say that distinction is important to preserving their independence of the systems they monitor.

While some ombudsmen are able to report to the editor and work unfettered, others say answering only to the publisher gives them a better feeling of autonomy. …

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