Newly minted Washington Post (and former Boston Globe) executive editor Marty Baron is apparently disappearing another ombudsman position.
It is possible that I’ll be The Washington Post’s last independent ombudsman and that this chair will empty at the conclusion of my two-year term Feb. 28. If so, that will end nearly 43 years of this publication having enough courage and confidence to employ a full-time reader representative and critic.
Officially, no final decision has been made. Discussions are underway within The Post about how to respond to reader complaints and concerns without an independent ombudsman.
But I think the tea leaves are clear. For cost-cutting reasons, for modern media-technology reasons and because The Post, like other news organizations, is financially weaker and hence even more sensitive to criticism, my bet is that this position will disappear.
Not to mention that Marty Baron is allergic to media (and self) criticism.
Exhibit A: Baron’s track record at the Globe.
Starting in 1995 Mark Jurkowitz was the Globe’s ombudsman for two years, then its media critic for eight more. Baron restaffed neither position upon his arrival in 2001 and Jurkowitz’s departure in 2005.
So WaPo readers hoping for an advocate at the paper: Don’t hold your breath.
Note: Marty Baron responded here.