From Ethics to Crossword Goofs, Advocate Reflects on Anniversary
Clark, Mike, The Florida Times Union
This is your column.
Reader issues take priority, whether you're calling about
fairness or comic strips, credibility or tide charts.
Since this month marks my 10th anniversary as reader advocate,
it's a good time to reflect.
First, a job description. I am an internal auditor-customer
service-complaint department for the newsroom.
Those roles are commonplace in the business world, but rare in
So let's clear up some misunderstandings. I am:
. . . Not an official spokesman of the paper. My opinions are
. . . Not able to order changes. I have some influence in the
classic news media sense of identifying problems and offering
. . . Not your source for delivery or advertising complaints.
They have separate departments, though I make referrals.
. . . Not required to agree with everyone. I try to find
something constructive in every call, but I owe you my best
A few notable achievements
I have campaigned for more sensitivity to crime victims;
promoted ethical behavior; represented readers who felt no
ownership in the paper, such as minorities and children;
emphasized the need to reduce mistakes; educated readers about
how to gain access to the newsroom; and pushed for
better-researched all-city sports teams.
Our Reader Services operation has grown from one person to
three. I supervise Nicole McGill in Call Box and Diane Dixon in
Reader Services, two dynamic advocates for the readers.
As Jacksonville grows, the quality of the Times-Union should
improve, too. Here are my suggestions for a better product for
Add more news space in the Metro section.
Create a larger, separate Business section.
Improve coverage in the fast-growing suburbs of St. Johns and
Continue improving coverage of minorities and adding minority