Please join me in the sad occassion of the ending of Deborah Howell's tenure as Ombudsman of the Washington Post. I'm sure you're as sad to see her go as I am. We only have one more month to relish the incredible work she's done keeping WaPo the fair-and-balanced MSM source we all know and love.
You may recall back in 2006 when evil commenters on the Post's site called her out -- opps, I mean unfairly and ruthlessly attacked poor Deborah for her attempt to set the record straight about the Jack Abramoff Affair being a bi-partisanly balanced scandal. I mean, she was doing a public service. How dare the public be left with the impression that this was primarily a Republican "affair." Just because it was a Republican lobbyist dealing in scandalous behavior primarly with Republicans. Thank goodness she 'clarified'that Democrats should take responsiblity for this "affair," too.
Thank goodness the Post's editors protected the unfairly attacked Howell and protected free speech by shutting down comments on their site. It's so unfortunate that DailyKos exists and those pesky bloggers had other channels and means to document Howell's errors - opps, I mean setting-the-record-straighting - and WaPos comments shut down.
Here are some of the pesky DailyKos posts:
During her tenure as Ombudsman, we've been fortunate to have Howell at the helm to appropriately chastise readers - while of course pointing out how blameless and beyond reproach the MSM and the Post in particular are.
We're lucky as a nation that she called out the liberal media bias in such a thoughtful and well documented way (in her survey of herself).
I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo.
The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama. It's not hard to see why conservatives feel disrespected.
This past week, we were blessed with Howell's wisdom on
Ten Ways to Keep a Newspaper Strong.
She graces us with her wisdom including:
(1) Exclusivity is a virtue. Readers can get breaking news in many places, but they count on Post reporters and columnists for reporting and comment they can't get elsewhere. I'm thinking of features such as KidsPost, the Style Invitational, Federal Diary, In The Loop and Dr. Gridlock, and such top reporters and columnists as Dan Balz, Dana Priest, Steven Pearlstein, Sally Jenkins, Michelle Singletary and David S. Broder.
(3) Readers, don't expect The Post to have everything; you'll need to go online for some information. Though this area is heavily wired for the Internet, readers without computers moan when information is only online. I get e-mail from readers in their 80s -- even 90s -- all the time. Try it out at your local library, folks. You'll find lots to like.
She shows once again that being an Ombudsman is really about being a cheerleader for the paper (and its stock) vs. trying to hold the paper accountable for its readers or serve as an advocate for readers.
So sorry to see her go.