Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ombudsman is working on a "rent to own" basis

After asking about the whereabouts of the Herald's Ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, I received the following from the Herald's Executive Editor:


We are building an ombudsman relationship with Edward. His work has been ad hoc up until know to provide an outside view on mostly journalistic issues. My hope is that this will grow into a full ombudsman role for the paper. As it is, we're soliciting response to individual pieces as this builds.

By the way, as you get in touch, or talk to Ed, or whatever you do on topics involving The Herald, you probably want to identify yourself either as an interested reader, or a critic of the paper who's going to use responses in various ways.

I don't know what it means to "solicit response to individual pieces" but certainly the few columns Mr. Schumacher-Matos has written have elicited some response. But it seems to me that the Herald has a lot of issues it needs to tackle if it wants to be honest with itself. I'm not talking about ancient history, but there has to be some exploartion of how certain attitudes date back in time and have been institutionalized within the paper. There's plenty of material to work with, certainly enough to have a full time Ombudsman.

As for identifying myself as the editor of Herald Watch in communications with the Ombudsman, I have done so in both letters I've sent him to date, one of which was printed in the Herald's letters section. Neither letter was addressed by Schumacher-Matos in the paper or in the form of a private response. One letter was in reference to the seeming double standard in reporting unsavory details about the arrest of a prominent member of the business community while the arrest of a Herald journalist for soliciting a teen-aged prostitute garnered barely a mention. The other letter was regarding the comments left on electronic versions of the Herald's articles, many of which are racist, hateful, or otherwise troubling. There is no moderation in the comments and anyone can leave a comment using someone else's name. The Herald did assist me in this matter when I complained of others using my name to make such remarks, but the overall problem remains.

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