CPB has “no immediate plans” to hire a new ombudsman, the organization said in a statement Tuesday.
CPB’s last ombudsman, Jan Schaffer, posted her final column April 19; her three-year term ended April 30. CPB told Current that its need for an ombudsman “has declined in recent years, in large measure because PBS and NPR have strengthened their independent oversight of transparency and journalistic standards in their programming.”
When CPB created positions for two ombudsmen in 2005, NPR’s first ombudsman had already been in the job since 2000. PBS added one after CPB later in 2005. Those roles have since been redefined as public editor positions, now filled by Kelly McBride for NPR and Ricardo Sandoval-Palos for PBS.
CPB’s decision to bring on ombudsmen raised questions at the time, with some wondering why CPB needed ombuds when it doesn’t produce programming. The initiative was spearheaded by then–CPB Board Chair Ken Tomlinson, who was pursuing a covert effort to counter what he saw as liberal bias in PBS programming. CPB’s inspector general later found that Tomlinson had exceeded his role as a board member by handpicking the first two ombudsmen, Ken Bode and William Schulz.
CPB downsized the job to a single ombudsman in 2011.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Ricardo Sandoval-Palos is CPB’s ombudsman. He is PBS’ ombudsman.