Got something to say about something you saw or heard on public television or radio? It’s now the job of former NBC newsman Ken Bode and former Reader’s Digest Executive Editor William Schulz to register your comments and perhaps even review the program in question.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting last week named Mr. Bode, a visiting professor at DePaul University, and Mr. Schulz CPB ombudsmen. Their roles are to be independent arbiters of when reaction to programming warrants review of a program and to report the conclusions of the review.
Their roles will begin only after a program is broadcast. They will not be in a position to influence programming before it is aired. Both ombudsmen must agree that review of a program is called for, but each will write his own report on the results of that review.
No penalties or disciplinary actions are to be attached to their reports, which will be posted at cpb.org/ombudsmen.
Partisan politics are not supposed to influence the ombudsmen’s work. “We will be looking at journalistic issues,” outgoing CPB President and CEO Kathleen Cox said.
But Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, branded the ombudsman program “part of an overall effort to `chill’ programming on public broadcasting.”