Dancing around a blog

Deborah Howell, the Washington Post’s ombudsman (and a former colleague at Newhouse), reports on the ONO, the meeting of ombdsmen at Harvard I attended this week.

Jarvis thinks all ombudsmen ought to blog. His blog is at https://buzzmachine.com. He said bloggers “distrust the institutional voice and trust more the human voice. The more we represent that personal voice, the better.”

That caught me up short. I got a laugh at the meeting when I said, “I hardly have time to go to the bathroom. Start a blog?” Instead of responding to 600 letters, he said “a blog post is more efficient and adds to the conversation.” I’ll think about it.

By the way, it’s a punchline but it’s true: ombudsmen do correct each other a lot.

: LATER: And here is the account of Stephen Pritchard, readers’s editor of the Observer in London.

: LATER STILL: And here‘s Siobhain Butterworth, readers’ editor of the Guardian, with her take: “arvis urged us to “jump into the blogging pool, the water is fine”. With this encouragement I plan to experiment with a Thursday blog about issues for the Guardian and its readers.”

  • This time issue strikes me as a secret signifier of whether someone is a digital native, digital immigrant, or from the old analog country. The point here isn’t so much the blog or blogging per se, but who the heck is one’s audience? If you are writing today and not thinking of your digital readers, I think it is a mistake.

    Who is the ombudsman speaking for? If they don’t think about how electronic audiences read, can they be their ombudsman?

  • Who is the ombudsman speaking for?

    Depends on the paper. In the case of the Palm Beach Post, C.B. Hanif seems to be a rock solid apologist for the paper with a distinct conflict of interest being a long time editorial writer for that paper, and NEVER corrects anything that would be a decided embarrassment for same. I’ve written him several time about significant factual errors with no response.

    The PBP even has the nerve to brag in ads about him being the longest running ombudsman in the country.

  • I can’t think of anyone in journalism who needs to be retire more than Deborah Howell.

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