ERIC Number: ED236714
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Ombudsman and the News Media.
During the 1960s, efforts to improve fairness, accuracy, quality, and responsiveness led to the introduction of ombudsmen on many American newspaper staffs. Representatives for readers' complaints and in-house critics of their own paper's performance, ombudsmen frequently use columns, internal memoranda, staff contacts, questionnaires, and speeches to fulfill their obligations. While the use of ombudsmen in the United States appears to be steadily increasing, questions on the position's effectiveness have been raised. Specifically, critics suggest that (1) ombudsmen frequently are required to perform so many duties--answer complaints, research problems, and write articles--that they have difficulty doing any job adequately; (2) the danger of a conflict of interests arises when staff members are expected to criticize the organization that pays them; (3) ombudsmen cannot develop an objective perspective when they are also required to work as reporters, as often happens on small newspapers with low budgets; (4) internal critics can lower the general staff's morale; and (5) editors can perform the ombudsman's job more effectively. Supporters suggest that editors are neither as accessible to the public nor as impartial as ombudsmen. Recognizing the need for this impartiality, major television networks have recently instituted the ombudsman position. (MM)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.