Monday, February 21, 2011

The Daily News' new ombudsman lives in ... North Dakota?

At the end of the first column from the Daily News' new "public editor" comes this startling bit of information:

Richard Aregood is the Charles R. Johnson Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota.

North Dakota?

Now, granted, Aregood isn't a stranger to the Philadelphia scene. As his UND bio notes, he "worked as a reporter, rewriteman, rock critic, city editor, deputy sports editor, and assistant managing editor before moving to the editorial page." He won a Pulitzer. And granted, he seems (appropriately) skeptical about the journalistic acumen of new Daily News editor Larry Platt.

But still. North Dakota.

The upside to this is that Aregood will have a lot of distance from the newsroom and editors he is supposed to critique on behalf of the public. The downside is that he's also going to have a lot of distance from the readers he's supposed to represent. 

Sure, you can email Aregood with your complaints and compliments about the Daily News. But it appears that Aregood won't be around Philadelphia to get a deeper sense of what people are saying to each other—say, at a food cart on Broad Street near City Hall—when they pick up a copy of the paper. Despite his deep roots at the Daily News, I suspect Aregood will be plenty willing to let the paper have it with both barrels when needed. But given that there's 1,500 miles of distance between Aregood and the community he's serving, I'm not sure he'll always know when it's needed.

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