Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hatchet Needs an Ombudsman!

In a 2006 staff editorial, The Hatchet called for the creation of a George Washington University ombudsman to act as a liaison between the students and the school in order to better streamline the way students navigate the GW bureaucracy.

However, given recent criticisms of the way The Hatchet decides what is newsworthy on campus, the claim being that it favors coverage pushed by the University rather than what matters to readers (aka students), maybe the school's "independent" paper should take a look at the three fingers pointing back at them when they accuse the school of not catering to students' needs (not to say that GW as a whole does a good job of that, by any means, but that's another debate).

It isn't a new idea. GW Alum Arron Connelly proposed the idea of having a Hatchet Ombudsman or Public Editor in a 2005 editorial.

The time has come to stop talking and take action. Join the facebook group, and sign the petition today. To get more involved, email

For those of you unfamiliar with what an ombudsman is, here is a wonderfully succinct definition from Wikipedia:
An a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some external constituency while representing the broad scope of constituent interests.
The position is used by government and private entities for several purposes, chiefly representing the interests of those who the body serves to the internal mechanisms of the entity. However, most Americans have encountered the word on the pages of America's most prominent newspapers.

The New York Times calls the position it's Public Editor. The Washington Post has - gasp - an Ombudsman. It is their job to listen to reader imput, to take it to the editorial board, and write a column explaining how things will change at the paper based on reader input, or explaining why things will stay the same.

The ombudsman is a vital position that gives those papers of record greater accountability to its readers.

It's time for The Hatchet to hold itself accountable to the people who consume their product.

Join the Facebook group and sign the petition! Send a message to The Hatchet that it needs an ombudsman so that readers have a say in what content the paper produces.

For more information on how to get involved, email


GW said...

This is ridiculous. The people who work at the hatchet are their constituents. They are students of this university and therefore more in tune with what is going on with the university then someone at a large newspaper who doesnt necessarily know the wants/opinions of millions and millions of readers.

what would make an ombudsman any different then the students already on the editorial board. Thats like making a logan dobson of the SA. After a while, they become just as connected to the organization as the people they criticize.

You dissent EVERYTHING the hatchet says, did they reject your shitty writing or something? I mean, otherwise if you were actually interested in being a journalist you would write for them. Writing for a class run blog looks like shit on a resume, just so you know.

I read this blog because its laughable. You guys are out of touch with reality. The only people I hear complaining about the hatchet are the twenty idiots that write on this god forsaken blog. Maybe the hatchet gets it wrong once in a while, but trust me, so do you. So. Do. You.

C. James Gardner said...

Does GW still lack an ombudsman?