NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin had a word in mind this week. “[T]he journalistic community seems to be taking an unseemly delight in [Judith] Miller’s predicament and the problems it poses for The New York Times,” Dvorkin wrote. “The Germans have a word for this: Schadenfreude. It means taking pleasure in the discomfort of others.”
Hey, while we’ve got the dictionary out, why don’t we look up another word? “Ombudsman: n. A man who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as consumers or students and an institution or organization.”
So what institution are you ombudsing, Jeffrey Dvorkin? Not NPR. Dvorkin’s employer, he wrote, had done “some of the best reporting,” producing “a spellbinding hour of radio.” No, the “strong lather of sexism” and “innuendo and personal attacks” against Miller that he lamented were coming from somewhere else.
But where? Dvorkin didn’t cite a single example. He merely tut-tutted about the “smell” of “old-fashioned newsroom sexism.” From us? Maureen Dowd? Andrea Peyser? Jack Shafer? Who knows?
The Media Mob smells somebody who needs to om-butt out and get back to minding his own om-business.
And that brings up the trouble with this whole ombudsman fad: Nobody is running quality control on the quality-control cops.
Or nobody was. Enter the Ombudsman Ombudsman!
And while the Ombudsman Ombudsman is at it, what was the Boston Globe‘s Richard Chacon doing complaining that Globe executives committed an “error” by accepting inappropriate “business gifts” when they received Red Sox World Series rings?
Publisher Richard Gilman tried manfully to explain to Chacon that the Globe owns the Red Sox, but the ethical watchdog would have none of it.
“I’m no accountant, and he may be technically right, but accepting the rings was wrong for public perceptions about the newspaper,” Chacon declared.
Such as the perception that the Boston Globe, via the New York Times Company, is a part owner of the Red Sox? Wouldn’t want to give the public that idea!
Seeing as Chacon isn’t an accountant, the Ombudsman Ombudsman is going to make this really simple: You suggest the Globe executives “give the rings back.” Perfect! They should give them back whence they came. To themselves.