The Washington Post on Friday said it was ending its decades-long practice of employing an independent ombudsman to critique the newspaper’s journalism and field readers’ questions.
The Post’s ombudsman will be replaced by a reader representative, a staff member who will answer questions and respond to complaints, said Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor. The reader representative, who will report to Hiatt, might write a blog as well, but the ombudsman’s long-standing Sunday column will end, he said.
The newspaper has employed an ombudsman for the past 43 years; he or she was an experienced journalist who worked under a contract that ensured editorial independence.
The paper’s most recent ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, served a two-year term. His contract ended Thursday.
In a brief column addressed to readers and published online Friday, Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth wrote that the ombudsman’s “duties are as critical today as ever. Yet it is time that the way these duties are performed evolves.”