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Profile and activity of newspaper ombudsmen: an international overview. The News Ombudsman today and tomorrow ONO annual conference Stockholm, May 29, 2008. Cristina Elia European Journalism Observatory Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.

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the news ombudsman today and tomorrow ono annual conference stockholm may 29 2008

Profile and activity of newspaper ombudsmen:an international overview

The News Ombudsman today and tomorrowONO annual conferenceStockholm, May 29, 2008

Cristina Elia European Journalism Observatory Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland

slide2
WHO: ombudsmen who have been appointed voluntarily by newspapers in the
    • European sphere
    • Anglo-Saxon sphere
    • Latin Sphere
  • WHEN: data collected May – June 2006
  • WHY: to have introductory empirical data on the state of the art of the profession at an international level
  • LIMITS: questionnaire
  • COMPARISON WITH PAST STUDIES: Ettema & Glasser, Papirno, Nemeth
  • ADVANTAGES: provide the context, compare different realities, identify trends

INTRODUCTION & INTERNATIONAL OVERVIEW

slide3

Questionnaire response rate: 57%

INTRODUCTION & INTERNATIONAL OVERVIEW

profile
Profile

Similarities:

  • 9 ombudsmen out of 10 are former journalists
  • 9 ombudsmen out of 10 work for just one newspaper (exception: Switzerland)
  • There are differences in other variables:
  • Age: Europeans are noticeably older (year of birth, mean: 1940)
  • Gender: gender equality is reached only in the Anglo-Saxon sphere. Evolution of the Anglo-Saxon sphere in the last 20 years:

1985

2006

PROFILE& COMMUNICATION

slide5

% ofemployment

Anglo-Saxon sphere

European sphere

Latin sphere

PROFILE& COMMUNICATION

visibility communication with the public
Visibility / communication with the public

European sphere

Columns

Anglo-Saxon sphere

Latin sphere

Latin & Anglo-Saxon spheres: good visibility

European sphere: room for improvement (more than 20% do not write a column, lower frequency)

PROFILE& COMMUNICATION

visibility communication with the public7
Visibility / communication with the public

European sphere

  • meetings with community groups (visibility)

Anglo-Saxon sphere

Latin sphere

PROFILE& COMMUNICATION

slide9

New technologies

Number of e-mails per day

PROFILE& COMMUNICATION

slide11

European sphere

  • Participation in newsroom meetings

Anglo-Saxon sphere

Latin sphere

PROFILE& COMMUNICATION

slide12

Self-assessment and possible improvements

  • Authority

European sphere

Anglo-Saxon sphere

Latin sphere

SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS

slide13

Self-assessment and possibleimprovements

  • Independence

European sphere

Anglo-Saxon sphere

Latin sphere

SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS

slide14

Self-assessment and possible improvements

  • Visibility

European sphere

Anglo-Saxon sphere

Latin sphere

SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS

self assessment and possible improvements
Self-assessment and possibleimprovements

Possible improvements (chosen from 20 possible changes)

  • Do more reader outreach
  • Set up a blog or chat to interact with readers
  • Make the position more visible in the community
  • Have power to order a correction
  • Get a secretary or assistant to help manage calls

SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS

to summarize
Tosummarize
  • The ombudsman’s role of mediation is achieved in all the spheres.
  • We have seen an Anglo-Saxon sphere where ombudsmen not only perform a role of mediator, but also that of “coach” and promoter of public discussions on journalism issues.
  • Generally, Anglo-Saxons have more visibility and tend to exploit their channels of communication with readers and with the newsroom better.

CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS

slide17

To summarize

In the European sphere there is room for improvement (even if this depends on how they see their own role):

  • An essential would be to increase the % of employment;
  • Increase visibility (for 40% of them this is only sufficient)
  • Increase the frequency of contacts with readers (columns, meeting with groups of readers, and also using new technologies)  to perform their role of “public conscience” better
  • Increase the frequency of contacts with journalists (internal memos, newsroom meetings)  to perform also their coaching role

CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS

new trends in central europe

Switzerland:

  • characteristics
  • 1981: Tribune de Genève, 1st European newspaper ombudsman? (Daniel Cornu)
  • last year 2 ombudsman were “lost” (24 Heures & Le Matin) because the Édipresse group decided to centralize and have 1 ombudsman for its many newspapers. STRONG & UNIQUE TREND: most newspaper ombudsmen now work for editorial groups, not for single newspapers.
New trends in Central Europe

CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS

new trends in central europe19

Germany: new interest

  • 1 newspaper ombudsman (Main Post, since 2004)
  • Lately: many articles in professional reviews
  • April 2008: "IQ - Initiative Qualität im Journalismus" promoted a campaign entitled Seven good reasons for ombudsmen in the media
New trends in Central Europe

CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS

new trends in central europe20

France 2006-2008 (in addition to the existing ones):

  • Paris-Normandie
  • France-Antilles group
  • L’Est républicain
  • L’Express
  • Le Parisien - Aujourd’hui en France
  • + creation of the Club des médiateurs de la presse française
New trends in Central Europe

CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS