Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ombudsman talking Turkey

The Herald's Ombudsman has penned a new column for the Herald. Except he didn't pen it in his capacity as ombudsman. Instead, he's written a column about Turkey. Not the Turkey we'll all be enjoying for Thanksgiving in a few weeks, but Turkey the country. I guess the Herald, in its cheap way, has decided that there isn't enough material for Schumacher-Matos to write about regarding the Heralds and reader concerns and therefore are asking him to multi-task. Honestly, if an ombudsman falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Ombuds Light. 2/3 less ombudsy than a regular ombudsman.

1 comment:

asombra said...

I don't believe this guy was ever meant to function as your concept of an ombudsman, Henry--not even close. Think of it more as window dressing. Of course they still have to pay him, so naturally he's expected to make himself useful. I admit Turkey is a stretch; it would have looked better to have him handle topics more in line with his background, but ultimately it makes little difference. I mean, what did you expect, really, besides perhaps more careful attention to appearances?

It's bound to be about the same at other papers with an ombudsman. They may be better at making it look convincing, but I'm pretty sure it's more cosmetics than reality. The paper will always wind up doing what those really in charge want to do anyway. Basically, the ombudsman, no matter how well intentioned, can only advise, and the advice can always be ignored or gotten around. There's no real independent power involved, and if the ombudsman were to become "difficult" enough for the paper, you'd better believe he or she wouldn't last long.

After seeing that the Washington Post ombudsman did nothing about a breach as blatant as the recent Oliphant cartoon grotesquely maligning Cuban exiles, which was a clear throwback to the worst 19th century anti-immigrant prejudice, I don't need to know anything else. When push comes to shove, the whole business is a toothless formality, not to say a sham.