Over the weekend, WaPo‘s ombudsman Patrick Pexton signed off for the last time. Pexton completed his two-year position. And now his position has died. As has widely been reported, WaPo‘s days of having an ombudsman are over.
In the writeup, Pexton compliments the paper, the reporters, the copy editors and management profusely. He insists people should have compassion for those tasked with making tough calls where layoffs are concerned. But one line that jumped out at us as odd in Pexton’s farewell was the following, perhaps unintentional, kick in the pants that he sandwiched in right after thanking Post Co. chief executive Donald Graham and Publisher Katharine Weymouth for never interfering with what he wrote.
“And readers, you should know that, although the future Post may not look like the present Post, the commitment of Graham and Weymouth to the survival of this publication is ironclad.”
Whoa! Survival? For the outgoing ombudsman to even use the word should startle readers. There have been numerous layoffs as of late, including the Valentine’s Day bloodbath. But for Pexton to even use to word is alarming. And not even in the context that he believes that the paper is going to survive, just that the head honchos are “committed” to its survival. Surely if this was an actual game of “Survivor,” Pexton would be voted off for writing such a line.
Pexton concludes by telling WaPo‘s reporters to be careful with the power they have as journalists. “Exercise this power wisely and responsibly,” he concludes.