I wish I could tell you that a fresh, new ombudsman waits in the wings, eager to advocate for you in the newsroom and fill this column space each Sunday with constructive criticism or explanations of the editors’ decisions. That healthy openness has been this newspaper’s hallmark of ethical self-policing for more than 35 years.
But that is not what is happening. The position as it has been known all those years is ending, a victim of staff downsizing. In announcing her decision, Editor Nancy Barnes used more delicate language, saying it was being left “open” and holding out the prospect that a part-time version might be considered in the future.
In a final act as your reader’s representative, I feel compelled to say this is a lousy decision that does not serve readers or the quality of journalism in this newspaper. Even if a part-time version of this very full-time job is attempted, it would have to leave out some core functions that defined this job as an ombudsman rather than something else.
Shorter Star Tribune: Yakety yak, don’t talk back.
I found this, of all places, at Pop Culture Junk Mail, where Gael notes:
Oh, come on! This is 10 times as necessary a role as another Burnsville reporter, especially in this era where our nation is so angrily split that half the Strib readers believe the paper is in thrall to the Democrats, and the other half believe the Republicans and big advertisers control the copy. Bad decision.
I don’t expect him to issue a statement, but I’d love to hear Lileks’ take on this. (Almost certainly he doesn’t want the job.)
And the mere fact that I’m mentioning this here reflects the new reality of these here Intertubular things: were it not for the Net, the Strib would be just a little provincial paper with an overlay of Minnesota Nice and no one this side of Jim Romenesko would give a flying fish about their ombudsman being sacked.