Washington Post readers representative Doug Feaver is out at the newspaper, Media Matters reported.
iMediaEthics asked the Washington Post for confirmation and more information about the future of the readers representative role. Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti provided iMediaEthics with editorial page editor Fred Hiattt’s statement on the matter:
“Doug has indeed left. His agreement was for one year—he moved the departure date up a bit for personal reasons. His choice, not ours, I assure you. We are now thinking about next steps. Doug’s deputy, Alison Coglianese, was already performing many reader rep duties (Doug worked part-time) and may assume the role. But we are not sure.”
Feaver’s position as readers representative replaced the Post‘s ombudsman position. Patrick Pexton, the Washington Post’s final ombudsman, left the newspaper last March 1. The Post‘s description for the newly-created readers rep role suggested a watered-down version of its independent ombudsman.
“Unlike ombudsmen in the past, the reader representative will be a Post employee. The representative will not write a weekly column for the page, but will write online and/or in the newspaper from time to time to address reader concerns, with responses from editors, reporters or business executives as appropriate,” a note from Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said.
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Feaver, who spent decades with the Washington Post before his role as readers representative, had a part-time contract with a full-time assistant. His last post, “Discussion: The implications of NSA cellphone surveillance,” Media Matters noted, was published Dec. 5.
iMediaEthics wrote in April of last year questioning Feaver’s first report as readers representative. Instead of tackling serious issues like the Post‘s decision to abandon its ombudsman role, Feaver’s first blogpost addressed how to print from the Post‘s website. Likewise, Media Matters noted today that Feaver rarely published “direct criticisms or reviews of the Post’s reporting.”
According to Media Matters’ count, 26 of 28 of Feaver’s blogposts “consisted simply of Feaver aggregating reader comments from Post articles and columns without additional commentary.”
On the other hand, Pexton, the Washington Post’s last ombudsman, took the newspaper to task and addressed complaints about plagiarism, errors, reporting on the Benghazi attack, publishing Chinese propaganda, and stories on weather emergencies. (Note: Similar to Feaver, iMediaEthics criticized Pexton for his first column as ombudsman in which he praised the Washington Post).
UPDATED: 1/8/2014: 2:54 PM EST: Updated with statement from Post and more information about Feaver and the ombudsman position at the Post.