Minneapolis not the only city to lose an ombudsman

Categories: Media
As newspapers across the country slash positions, ombudsmen are often on the chopping block. It's too bad considering they are one of the few types of people left in newspapers who have the time and are willing to hear the public's ridiculous, hilarious and sometimes nasty remarks on content.

The Star Tribune left their ombudsman position open last year, formerly held by Kate Parry. According to Editor & Publisher, Minneapolis isn't the only city suffering:

Gina Lubrano, former ombudsman at The San Diego Union-Tribune and executive secretary of the Organization of News Ombudsmen, declares, "This is unprecedented, this dropping of ombudsmen left and right." Lubrano, who says her group has 27 members in the U.S., notes that some 10 newspapers have dropped them in the past 12 months. "We are going through a bad time in journalism," she adds. "Papers are giving less to their readers."

Since early 2008, a string of major news papers have seen their ombudsmen leave, either through layoffs, buyouts, or simple retirement. In many cases, cash-strapped editors have chosen to let those positions remain empty — or be eliminated. Among those that have lost their ombuds since January: The Sacramento Bee, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, The Sun of Baltimore, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, the Orlando Sentinel, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, and The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post.

Deborah Howell, ombudsman at The Washington Post since 2006, makes a good point too, saying "The ombudsman is the one person the reader feels like they can go to if they have a problem with the paper. That is the person they know to go to."

Have you tried to contact the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press with a comment or concern in the last year? Did you get a response?

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