January 18, 2010

Organization of News Ombudsmen Director Argues for 'Cyberombudsmen'

Jeffrey Dvorkin, the Executive Director of ONO and a former NPR Ombuds, observes that declining revenues for traditional media has lead many news organizations to fire their Ombuds. At the same time, more internet media critics have become potent and proactive advocates for the public. In his latest blog post, Dvorkin argues that these two vital elements should join to create "Cyberombudsmen."
The old model of the ombudsman as the solitary, experienced and somewhat distant newsroom figure needs to change. The way to make this work is to engage our younger journalistic colleagues who bring new skills and fresh perspectives and who can be the next generation of "cyberombudsmen." Combining their talents with the experience of the seasoned ombudsmen will create this urgently needed agency of digital democracy.
(Now the Details.)

Dvorkin's argument has relevance for Ombuds in other fields. Although Ombuds are uniquely positioned and qualified to advise their organizations, the rapidly evolving virtual community cannot be ignored. Ombuds would be wise to keep connected to internet critics who have different perspectives and resources.

Related posts: Ombuds Not Exempt From Influence of Internet; More Thoughts on the Decline of News Ombuds; Organization of News Ombudsmen Appoints First Executive Director; Higher Ed Ombuds Are Embracing Social Media.


  1. Tom,

    An interesting read. I like the term "cyberombudsmen". I recently wrote a paper and used the term "Internet Ombudsman" and how the web now provides the opportunity for new Ombuds roles as well as offering new entry points and options for established 'real life' Ombuds offices.
    What confuses me from the article is who is actually employing the "cyberombudsmen"? If their role is to oversee the bloggers and online media sites, where does there legitimacy derive from? What will compel bloggers to adhere to the new “cyberombudsmen” office?


  2. Tom - the short answer is that this role is still evolving. In order for this to work, ombuds need to broaden their own concept of the job and become cyberombudsmen. No one "pays" bloggers now, but bloggers can and should be part of the growing ombuds environment. If they do, the issue of finding a financial basis will follow. So at this stage, process is outcome.