Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ombudsmen to Readers: Drop Dead

The Empty Suit, New York Times public relations editor Barney Calame, joined three other newspaper ombudspersons at a forum in Washington the other day to swap war stories and discuss a common irritant -- those dag-blasted readers!

But don't you worry, Calame & Co. know it's all a sham, and they revealed as much at the forum: They cope with job-related stress by ignoring reader complaints, especially those that come in by that new-fangled invention called the "email."

OK, that is hardly earth-shattering news, particularly as it concerns Barney, who essentially functions as a Times flack and is notorious for ducking tough issues. Still, it was interesting to hear from the horses' mouths just how much contempt these supposed "reader representatives" have for the readers they are supposed to represent.

Calame was joined by ombudspeople from the Washington Post, National Public Radio and PBS in saying, essentially, that readers could go take a flying leap. As reported by FishbowlDC:
When the discussion drifted to the actual on-the-job machinations of the four ombudsman, it was hard not to get the sense that all four ombudsmen found readers to be, well, quite a nuisance, especially the feedback generated by website driven email campaigns.
The problem is that readers are so dang selfish. Get this pearl of wisdom from Calame: "People see it only from their perspective." Damn them. They should do what Calame does, and think of the feelings of editors and reporters before making complaints about silly things like systematic anti-Israel bias!

Calame went on to say that "I get hundreds and thousands of emails that are inspired by blogs and that are made easy by one or two clicks. Discounting those..." The rest of this sentence is not reported by Fishbowl, but I assume it was something like, "discounting those, the rest of the readers agree with me that the New York Times is swell!"

Concludes FishbowlDC: "So, I hate to break it to you MediaMatters, Media Research Center, and the rest of you: You're largely being ignored."

Hey, you're not telling us anything we didn't already know. They don't call Calame "worthless" for nothing.


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