Reader’s Editor/ Reader’s Representative/ Reader’s Advocate/Public Editor
Readers constitute the strength and weakness of a media organization. The term readers may be shifted to listeners and viewers while we talk about radio and television. Basically the audience is the major components of media discourses. All media managers may boast that we stand and work for our audience. Most clever media giants argue that we give what our consumers need. This advocacy is raised in almost all discussions regarding the ethical concerns. Who does decide the taste of the reader?
On ethical concern and consumer complaints a proper management system is needed. The system should deal feedbacks from public. The concept of a reader’s editor or newspaper ombudsman originated on this background.
An Ombudsman is some one who deals complaints from the public and finds proper solutions to them. It was in Sweden the first ombudsman was appointed in 1809. The appointment intended to handle citizen’s complaints regarding the government.
Etimologically, the term ombudsman originates from Scandinavian language. It means representative. Pronounced as “om-BUDS-man”.
News paper Ombudsman
News papers appoint ombudsman to deal reader’s/listener’s/viewer’s feedbacks. As all mass media consumers know, mass communication offers least possibility to feedbacks. Comparing to any other types of communication, feedback mechanism in mass communication is minimized. So any feedback from the consumers is very important as far as media are oncerned.the newspaper ombudsman receives complaints, investigate on the issues regarding the fairness, ethical concerns and balance in reporting. The ombudsman in newspaper organization is also known as Reader’s Editor, Reader’s Representative, Reader’s Advocate, and Public Editor.
News paper ombudsman is not an age old concept. Japan is the fore runners in appoint a newspaper ombudsman. Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo newspaper established a committee in 1922 to deal reader’s redresses. Another widely circulated newspaper in Tokyo, The Yomiuri Shimbun organized a staff committee in 1938. Later it transformed to ombudsman activities. The first news paper ombudsman appointed in US in June 1967 in Louisville, Kentucky to make consensus over reader’s complaints of The Courier Journal and The Louisville Times. The Canada came in to the appointment by 1972 in The Toronto Star.
In India, at administrative level, the term ombudsman is known as Lokpal or lokayukta. Times of India is the pioneering news paper organization which appointed a newspaper ombudsman in India. But the appointment did not express satisfactory results. The Hindu appointed its Reader’s Editor in 2006 by the influencing acts of Ian Mayes of the guardian’s reader’s editor.
Organization of Newspaper Ombudsmen
Organization of Newspaper Ombudsmen formed in 1980. “ONO is a nonprofit corporation with an international membership of active and associate members. It maintains contact with news ombudsmen worldwide, and organizes annual conferences, held in a member's city, for discussion of news practices and a wide range of issues connected with ombudsman work.”
Purposes of ONO
• To help the journalism profession achieve and maintain high ethical standards in news reporting, thereby enhancing its own credibility among the people it serves.
• To establish and refine standards for the job of news ombudsman or reader representative.
• To help in the wider establishment of the position of news ombudsman on newspapers and elsewhere in the media.
• To provide a forum for exchanging experiences, information and ideas among its members.
• To develop contacts with publishers, editors, press councils and other professional organizations provide speakers for special interest groups and respond to media inquiries.