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The Washington Post eliminated its longstanding ombudsman position last year, and now it may be done with the seemingly watered-down version that replaced it, the reader representative.
Media Matters reported today that Doug Feaver, who took over the newly created reader representative position in March 2013, is leaving the part-time gig for personal reasons.
Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt told Media Matters the Post is still deciding whether or how Feaver will be replaced. He said Feaver’s deputy Alison Coglianese is being considered for the role.
The elimination of the ombudsman was met with heavy criticism last year. Unlike the ombudsmen, who worked under two-year contracts with the paper, the reader representative is a Post employee, which gives them less structural independence from the organization they’re critiquing. The reader representative mostly wrote for the web addressing reader concerns, while the ombudsman columns used to run in print as well. Feaver’s last piece ran Dec. 5.
According to Media Matters, of Feaver’s 28 posts since April 5, 26 were aggregations of reader comments from Post pieces without any editorial comments. One of the other two pieces he wrote included his initial post, in which he said the biggest issue readers brought to him was the “disappearing print button on the article pages.”
Judging by today’s homepage, Feaver’s tenure was a success: The print button appears to be visible on all the main articles.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery