One of our longest serving members has finally decided to leave his post. Mike Getler was the first Ombudsman ever appointed at PBS, the United States Public Broadcasting Service. He has been in that post since November 2005. Before that he was Ombudsman at the Washington Post for five years, where he also had a long career in the newsroom.
While they will be the proverbial big shoes to fill, I am glad to note that PBS is committed to finding a replacement for him. As Mike points out in his farewell column, Ombudsmen (as well as public editors) are an endangered species in the United States. Elsewhere in the world, there has been some growth as media organizations recognize the need for accountability in a free and open society.
Just today the Pew Research Centre published a study which noted that only 20% of Americans trust national news organizations “a lot” and 52% trust them “some.” They trust social media even less. If ever there was a time to provide citizens with a way of holding their media accountable, and educating them about the role of a free press, it is now.
So Mike, we wish you well in the next stage of your life –but keep an eye out and help us spread the word, whatever you do. On behalf of the Organization of News Ombudsman, we thank you for your insights and support through the year. Please stay in touch.