The Hindu’s Readers’ Editor (RE), A.S. Panneerselvan, has been appointed to serve on the board of the Organisation of News Ombudsmen (ONO), a global body of news ombudsmen.
The Hindu is the only Indian newspaper to have institutionalised the office of the Readers’ Editor, an independent internal news ombudsman, with clearly defined Terms of Reference. The paper’s REs have been members of the ONO ever since the position was created in 2006.
Formed in 1980, the ONO maintains contacts with ombudsmen worldwide, and organises annual conferences, which are platforms for sharing experiences and mutual learning. This year’s conference was held in Los Angeles. The organisation’s president is Stephen Pritchard of The Observer of the U.K.
On his induction to the board, Mr. Panneerselvan said, “The Hindu’s international standing for its quality, integrity and depth played a major role behind my selection.”
Explaining the significance of a body like the ONO, he added that the job of a Readers’ Editor is a “lonely one.”
“He is neither a part of the editorial news process nor a management man. The ONO creates a network among lonely souls, who are wrestling with issues common across the media landscape.” Such issues include “fairness, accuracy, balance, and space for freedom of expression.”
The ONO encourages newspapers and broadcasters to have ombudsmen to “improve the quality of news reporting;” help the news provider to become “more accessible and accountable to readers and audience members, and thus to become more credible;” and to increase the awareness of its news professionals to public’s concerns.
Mr. Panneerselvan noted, “If independent media houses want self-regulation mechanisms, they need a redressal system. An ombudsman provides that.”