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NOTE: A correction is needed in my comment! It should say citizens who "care deeply," not "are deeply." It's hard to get things right all the time in the media, isn't it?
Tim Burns is absolutely right that the news media should be publicly accountable -- just as they demand of those they cover. The local media leaders quoted here are also right that given the financial realities, they cannot afford staff ombudsmen to hear and address complaints. No news outlet in this state has a full-time ombudsman any more. The Washington News Council was created in 1998 to act as a kind of "outside ombudsman" for the news media in our state. We now have a 14-year track record of dealing with complaints from citizens who felt they had been damaged by inaccurate or unfair stories about them or their organizations, and were unable to get a satisfactory response from the media outlet. We have had strong links to Spokane from the outset, with two Council members (Jennifer Roseman and Chuck Rehberg) from your city. We have held panels and student mock hearings at Gonzaga, Whitworth and Eastern Washington University, including a discussion of the Spokesman-Review´s Jim West coverage that one participant told me was the best discussion of media ethics he´d ever heard. A few years ago, at the request of the Spokesman´s former editor, we did an unprecedented critique of the newspaper´s River Park Square coverage. "Reporting on Yourself" was published in full in the paper on May 6, 2007, and won the prestigious Ancil Payne Award for Media Ethics. We recently gave a $2,000 scholarship to Amy Meyer, editor of EWU´s student newspaper, and spoke to her staff in Cheney. We held one of our annual Gridiron West Dinners at The Davenport Hotel in 2006 to "toast and roast" Tom Foley and Slade Gorton, attended by about 250 people. I cordially invite Inlander readers to visit our website, http://wanewscouncil.org, to learn more about us. We are a small nonprofit dependent on support of citizens who are deeply about accurate, fair, and ethical journalism (i.e., all Inlander readers). If anyone has complaints about Spokane-area media that you are unable to resolve with them, give us a call. And if Spokane media leaders would like us to act as an "outside ombudsman" in any such cases, we´d be glad to do that. Our council is non-partisan, fair-minded, knowledgeable and professional. We´re here to help. (NOTE: A correction is needed in Chris Stein´s story. The last paragraph should say we are a nonprofit that "mediates" complaints, not "moderates.") Otherwise, fine story. Keep up the good work.
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