Former NPR Ombuds, Jeffrey Dvorkin, offers his perspective on the apparent decline in the numbers of newspaper ombuds. Dvorkin observes that the traditional role of news ombuds is being challenged by a new "wiki" model of on-line collaboration with readers. Nonetheless, he believes that listeners, readers and viewers want to deal with a real person, someone whose job it is to listen to their concerns.
Dvorkin points to research that supports the need for an ombuds. One study by the Guardian in London showed that the cost of litigation drops by as much as 30% when there is an ombuds on staff. Other studies have shown that having an ombuds increases credibility and community respect for the newspaper or broadcaster and that an ombuds is good for internal newsroom morale. Dvorkin also notes that support for news ombuds is coming from non-news ombuds, whose ranks are growing fast in academia, government and not-for-profits. (Salon.com.)
Related post: Are Press Ombuds In Decline?