ONO Newsletter April 2021


TUESDAY 20th April at 1200 UTC

“publish” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Our most recent shop talk on the vexed issue of third party requests to “unpublish” news content was so popular and left so many key issues unexplored that, as promised, we are going to hold a second one.

This time, we are pleased that our invited guest, Deborah Dwyer, will definitely be able to join us.

In the first shop talk, members spoke about their own approaches to the issue, and about the importance of balancing the need to protect the integrity of published news content with the growing claims by third parties that they been adversely impacted by content available permanently on-line.

Most members acknowledged that removing online news stories is a last resort that is only done in the most exceptional of circumstances, but that a range of other measures (correcting or adding contextual content, providing editor’s notes, de-identifying individuals, de-indexing stories) can sometimes be used to deal with people’s concerns where justified.

In our second shop talk, we are hoping to dig a little deeper into those issues. In particular, we are looking for some ideas on what is currently “best practice” in this emerging area, as well as identifying some of the legal issues that affect it.

Many members did not have an opportunity to comment at the last talk, so we are extending this shop talk to 90 minutes.

We appreciate that some members may not be able to attend for the full 90 minutes and that’s absolutely fine. We may not end up needing the full 90 minutes, but it gives us the flexibility to allow as many people as possible to participate.

If you do have issues or questions you wish to raise during the shop talk, please feel free to contact the Executive Director at newsombudsmenorg@gmail.com in advance to let him know, and he will ensure that you have a chance to raise them.

In the lead up to the shop talk, I am pleased to let you know that Deborah Dwyer’s new website has now been officially launched, and it provides a wealth of background and context on the issue. You will find it at: https://unpublishingthenews.com/

Finally, if you missed our first shop talk or simply wish to review some of the highlights, the video is now posted in the Members Only section of the ONO website.

You will find it under the heading “Recordings of ONO Shop Talks” and the password to access the video is the same as the password to access the members only section.

If you have any difficulties accessing it, please email Alan Sunderland at newsombudsmenorg@gmail.com



Some of you will know that former Toronto Star Public Editor and ONO Board member Kathy English has been at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford working on a paper examining the future of news ombudsmen and public editors.

Her paper has now been released, and it not only argues strongly for the ongoing relevance and importance of the Public Editor role, it also proposes ways to extend its influence and relevance.

We are hoping to have Kathy join us in a virtual shop talk soon, but in the meantime you can find out more about her research, listen to a podcast about it and download a full version of the paper here: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/how-revitalised-public-editor-role-could-solve-two-journalisms-biggest-crises



It has been a particularly busy and productive time lately for ONO members.

Long-time ONO Member (and former President) Jeffrey Dvorkin has a new book which is being published on April 19th.

Jeffrey writes that “It is a handbook for students and each chapter has an ethical dilemma which I encouraged my students to try to resolve – especially if there is no clear option for a solution. I’ve tried not to make it overly or specifically Canadian. Wiley, my publisher is keen to see if there might be some interest in the US, the UK and Europe.

Of course, I’ve made sure that the essential role of the ombudsman/public editor is key to restoring trust in the media and I have some suggestions as to how this might be accomplished.”



“Old Man Reaeding a Book Using Magnifying Glass” by cali.org is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most of you will know that ONO had its origins in the United States, where the modern version of a news ombudsman first kicked off in the late 1960’s.

If you’d like to know more about those early days (ONO itself didn’t formally begin until 1980) you can read about them in the history section of the ONO website.

But over the decades, financial constraints and the rise of social media combined to make the US news ombudsman an endangered species.

We still have several great US ombudsmen, public editors and standards editors among our membership, but there are clearly far fewer than was the case a decade ago.

In the meantime, the number of ombudsmen overseas remained strong, which explains why you now find ONO members across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.

But could the tide be turning?

In this fascinating article published by Poynter, eight former ombudsmen discuss at length the issue of whether mainstream media in the US need to bring back the role of ombudsman to restore credibility and trust.



Yes, it’s that time of the year again. We are planning to hold our virtual AGM on Tuesday June 8th at 1200 UTC.

We will be electing a new President and a new Vice-President following the planned departure of Bjarne Schilling and Sally Begbie, who have led us so well during the difficult times of the past 12-18 months.

We also have vacancies for Board Members, and are keen to achieve a broad, diverse leadership group that reflects our membership around the world.

So if you have ever thought of joining the Board, now is the time to throw your hat in the ring.

What’s involved?

  • ONO can have up to 13 board members at any one time. We currently have 11.
  • The Board meets via Zoom approximately once a month for around an hour, to plan shop talks, discuss key issues of interest to members, plan other activities (including conferences) and look for ways to continue to promote and expand the organization and its work.
  • Directors normally serve for three years, but can then nominate to continue for further three year periods.

As you can see, the duties are minimal but the opportunities for great conversations with fellow ombudsmen and standards editors are significant.

Anyone can nominate at any time, including at the meeting itself. However, if you are considering nominating and would like to find out more, please contact Alan Sunderland at newsombudsmenorg@gmail.com

Bjarne Schilling                                                                                                            Alan Sunderland ONO President                                                                                                ONO Executive Director

Comments are closed.