by Dan Ward
Many newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, used to have ombudsmen who served as the readers’ voice in the newsroom. If you had a concern about coverage or perceived inaccuracies, the ombudsman was your resource.
My, how times have changed. Not only do few papers employ ombudsmen, but if this Sentinel article on Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ criticisms of recent coverage is any guide, reporters are now serving as their own ombudsmen.
A story on September 29 claimed to show “the influence of corporate lobbyists and legal confidantes on Jacobs.” The October 3 story relays how Jacobs criticized that report for its “inaccuracies” and for leaving a “false impression that she had been lobbied” on a ballot measure.
Both stories were written by the same reporter.
Instead of having a third-party review the criticisms and judge if they had any merit, the Sentinel assigned a reporter to report on the criticism of his own report.
It amazes me that the same newspaper that often publishes investigative features about conflicts of interest would fail to see the inherent conflict of interest in this story. I bet an ombudsman would see it.