Readers’ editor watch. In August 2010 Herald Sun editor-in-chief Phil Gardner announced his paper would appoint a readers’ ombudsman — someone to critique the paper’s coverage and act as a liaison with the public. Last August he said it was “definitely still happening”. Yesterday he told Crikey his plans haven’t changed. But the fact remains: two years on, there is still no sign of a readers’ ombudsman at the high-selling tabloid. It’s the same story at broadsheet rival The Age, where staff were promised a readers’ editor in May 2011. It seems that — in these times of job cuts, declining circulation and falling advertising revenue — readers’ editors are a luxury the papers can’t afford.
The comforting news for Melbourne newspaper nuts is they don’t seem to be missing out on much. Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes spoke for many Sydney Morning Herald devotees earlier this year when he accused SMH readers’ editor Judy Prisk of lacking the mongrel to criticise her own paper. As for The West Australian, it appointed a readers’ editor in April following its much-criticised decision to leave the Australian Press Council. The West‘s Jenni Garrigan handles complaints but, unlike most readers’ editors, doesn’t write a regular column analysing her paper’s reportage. — Matthew Knott