ONO Newsletter June 2020


Come one, come all!

While we are all disappointed that this year’s conference in Copenhagen had to be cancelled, let’s make up for it by participating in our annual meeting on Wednesday June 17 at 1100 UTC.

The meeting will be held on ZOOM, and ONO President Bjarne Schilling will be sending out a formal invitation via email on the day. You will simply need to click on the link in that email to join.

Although only full members of ONO are able to vote on any formal decisions, we encourage all members (including associate, retired and honorary members) to join us.

To make the meeting a more useful and relevant occasion for us all, we will be kicking off proceedings with a general discussion about life as an ombudsman or standards editor during the current coronavirus pandemic. Many members have raised with us the challenges of our work during this time, and there is much to discuss.

So join us to hear some observations and thoughts from ONO members on their own experiences and to offer your own.

This month’s newsletter is devoted to the meeting. It contains everything you need to know, including important background on some of the decisions we will be making.

Every member will receive the emailed invitation on the day, with the link to join the meeting.

If you know already that you are planning to join, feel free to let Alan Sunderland know by email ( newsombudsmenorg@gmail.com ) so we can get an idea of numbers. Otherwise, just join us on the day – there will be plenty of room for all.


Introduction & WelcomeONO President Bjarne Schilling                  
Media Ethics and Media Complaints during the COVID-19 PandemicONO Board members George Claassen (South Africa), Tarmu Tammerk (Estonia) and Margo Smit (Netherlands) will speak briefly about their own thoughts and experiences, and then the floor will be open for members to join in the conversation
Financial & Membership ReportONO Executive Director Alan Sunderland will take members through these reports and invite any questions or comments
By-laws & Articles Of Incorporation changesONO has updated its by-laws to reflect recent changes in our industry, recognising the need to represent standards editors as well as ombudsmen. There are also several other minor updates. These will be briefly outlined and opened for discussion, and members will be asked to formally vote to adopt the changes
Confirmation and/or election of President, Vice President and new board membersEach year, ONO confirms its key positions and seeks new board members where there are vacancies
Other BusinessSurprise us!



This will be a free and open discussion, but to get you all thinking here are some recent published thoughts from some of our members:

At least two of the current ONO Board are finishing up this year as they move into different professional roles.

We will thank them properly for their service at the appropriate time, but that means we will be looking for new board members.

All those interested in putting their names forward for consideration should contact the ONO Executive Director, Alan Sunderland, at newsombudsmenorg@gmail.com

Under the ONO by-laws, if we have more nominations than there are positions to be filled, there will be an election process at our meeting in June.

We would like to encourage any full member of ONO who might be interested to let us know, and by all means contact us if you would like a little more information.

The ONO Board meets via a telephone or video hook-up about once a month for around an hour to discuss relevant issues, plan for forthcoming conferences, encourage growing membership and generally keep the organization ticking along. Participation as a board member is a great way to make new contacts with other members and to enrich the experience of being part of ONO.

You can see the list of our current board members here. Feel free to email any of them if you want to know more.


These are attached to this email and are largely self-explanatory.

Our financial position is stable and our membership base is also holding up well despite the challenges of the past year.


The changes being proposed are designed to:

  • Formalise the name change of the organization to “Organization of News Ombudsmen and Standards Editors”
  • Spell out the complete range of different memberships we now offer – full, associate, retired and honorary. Previously they were not all recognised in the by-laws.
  • Make it clear that we are permitted to charge different fees for different classes of membership.
  • Tweak the rules around the annual meeting so that we don’t HAVE to hold it during the annual conference if we don’t want to (covers problems like this year, where the annual conference had to be cancelled)
  • Confirm that ONO can have a voluntary, unpaid Executive Director role. The role has existed and been filled intermittently for many years, but not clearly explained and defined in the by-laws.
  • Tidy up some other out-dated wording, including (for example) that all mail must be sent by the US Postal Service

These changes also involve some associated changes to our “articles of association”.

The ONO Board feels it is important for all members to be aware of these changes and to formally approve them, which is what will be happening at the meeting. The Board has obtained legal advice in the US to ensure that the changes are appropriate, are done correctly, and are registered with the appropriate authorities in the State of California, where ONO was originally founded in 1980.

A simplified, clear version of these changes (with the key new sections clearly marked) has also been attached to this email.


Every year at our annual meeting, ONO elects (or confirms if there is only one candidate) its President and Vice-President and fills any Board vacancies.

The recent convention has been that Presidents serve for a minimum of two years, and then hand over the reins (most often to the Vice-President).

This year, given the disruption and the cancellation of the conference, ONO has taken the view that consistency and continuity are important. The Board is pleased that both Bjarne Schilling (as President) and Sally Begbie (as Vice-President) have agreed to stay on in their roles for another year. The Board is grateful for this, and will be putting it to the meeting for confirmation.

We are anticipating two vacancies on the ONO Board, with the departure of Elizabeth Jensen from the Ombudsman role at NPR and other changes in the pipeline.

CBC Ombudsman Jack Nagler has indicated that he is happy to join the board, which is great news. We are still open to others who may wish to step up and put their names forward as well. If there are a number of applicants there will be a process held during the meeting, otherwise we will confirm new board members at the meeting.


Next Wednesday will be a good opportunity for us all to touch base and share some thoughts and ideas on what has been a fairly extraordinary year.

We look forward to “seeing” as many of you as possible.

Bjarne Schilling                                                                                       Alan Sunderland

ONO President                                                                              ONO Executive Director

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