For the first time in years, the UK News Corp’s. Sun named its first ombudsman, Philippa Kennedy, to an “indefinite” term to follow through on the newspaper’s “commitment to our readers to appoint an ombudsman,” a spokesperson for News International said to iMediaEthics by email.
According to the spokesperson, when The Sun launched its Sunday edition in February it made that “commitment” and the newspaper “is determined to maintain the bond of trust with its readership and Philippa’s role will be central to this.” In that first edition’s editorial, the newspaper said in part:
“We will hold our journalists to the standards we expect of them. After all a newspaper which holds the powerful to account must do the same with itself. You will be able to trust our journalists to abide by the values of decency as they gather news.”
The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade noted that Kennedy is a former editor at the Press Gazette and the Daily Express and a former Sun reporter, and that Kennedy said, “The industry has been through a bit of a battering and I want to play a part in restoring people’s faith in British journalism. Reporters strive for accuracy but things can go wrong. What’s important is how they’re put right.” As ombudsman, Kennedy “will be responsible for handling complaints from readers and liaising with the Press Complaints Commission,” Greenslade explained.
“No one is better qualified to hold this position which is why we asked her,” News International told iMediaEthics, adding that these are Kennedy’s two main job duties.
According to the Press Gazette, “Bill Newman was Sun ombudsman for eight years until 2006. After his retirement complaints were handled by the managing editors’ office.”
News International also commented to iMediaEthics that it is “delighted that Philippa has taken up the role, this is a great appointment both for readers and our journalists.”
iMediaEthics has also written to News International to ask if Kennedy will be blogging or writing columns on a regular basis and if she will join the Organization for News Ombudsmen. We will update with any response.
UPDATE: 10/2/2012 2:33 PM EST: Added info from the February editorial