The Only Station Ombudsman in America?


We’ve got an interesting story–at least I think it’s interesting–out Monday about Paul Giacobbe, who may be the only local television ombudsman in America. We try to stay away from saying things like, he’s definitely the only on in America, because inevitably someone from some tiny station out there will drop us a line Monday and tell us they’ve had an ombudsman for half a century.

But we checked with a lot of sources, such as the NAB, the RTNDA RTDNA and the Organization of News Ombudsmen–yes, there is such a thing–and they couldn’t name another.

Giacobbe works at WJAR Providence. Similar to a public advocate, it’s his job to make sure the reportage on WJAR is fair, accurate and balanced. If viewers feel a report has come up short in one of those three categories, Giacobbe–a lawyer and former investigative reporter–digs in on the story.

Surely some GMS would deem such a position less than essential in this economy, though Giacobbe isn’t at the station all the time and doesn’t command a hefty salary by any means.

Then again, you can’t exactly put a price on public trust; if your news brand is about rock-solid journalism, maybe it’s not a bad idea to have a person charged with making sure reporters aren’t cutting corners on their stories.