Pexton: Ombudsman can get answers from reporters who won't answer readers


During an exit interview during his last week as The Washington Post's ombudsman, Patrick Pexton told "Kojo Nnamdi Show" guest host Paul Brown that one of the benefits of his job was that he could get answers from reporters who refused to respond to readers' emails. In so doing, he echoed a point he made in a column he wrote about leaving, in which he said the ombudsman is "often the newsroom's backstop," for reporters who "have more demands on them than ever before to be faster, to write more, to tweet, blog, take photos, videos and all the rest."

Pexton said he thought the Post had a "slightly wrong emphasis" on digital operations, because print brought in more revenue. The care and feeding of those print readers, he said, was a big part of his day. Asked about future plans, Pexton said he would be interested in a "leadership position" at a news organization that believed journalism had a bright future.

One caller asked Pexton about the biggest mistake he'd seen in the Post during his tenure. "I do find mistakes but not as many as people think," Pexton said. He cited an Emi Kolawole blog post about the inventor of email as the biggest mistake he could think of, saying he was sure there were others. Pexton repeated his call for the Post to start a blog to cover protests in Washington, a beat that would keep a reporter so busy he or she might actually have an excuse for not answering readers' emails.

Related: Observer ombudsman says Post should keep ombudsman, a job that "significantly reduces the traffic through the lawyers' office" (Observer)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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