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Andy Stone, former editor and publisher of The Aspen Times and currently the president of the Colorado Press Association, has been named the Times’ first ombudsman, or reader’s representative.A newspaper ombudsman’s focus is the reader, responding to concerns and complaints about the newspaper’s editorial content and policies – news stories, opinion pieces, columns, letters to the editor … anything except advertising.The ombudsman is not intended to replace any existing communication directly between readers and the staff of the newspaper. Instead, he offers an additional resource for readers who have a concern and aren’t satisfied with the response they get from the paper’s staff – or who do not want to talk directly with their local reporters or editors.As ombudsman, Stone will be able to follow up on complaints by talking to reporters, editors, publishers and the people who are quoted or discussed in a news story or opinion piece. Those discussions may, in some cases, lead to corrections in the newspaper. They also may result in explanations – either directly, to the person concerned, or more widely, to the entire community, through a column in the newspaper.In order to carry out these tasks properly, Stone has been guaranteed independence.”This is an exciting assignment,” Stone said. “I started out as a reporter – looking at events in our community in order to report about them in the newspaper. Now I’m going to be looking at newspapers in order to report back to the community.”Stone noted that people across the nation have been questioning the news media’s reliability and integrity. “When we make a mistake, we need to admit it and correct it – as quickly and as publicly as possible. Too often, we get defensive when we make mistakes. It’s understandable, but we need to get past that.”Stone admitted that he’s “made an awful lot of mistakes myself over the years. That’s one reason I can claim some expertise on the subject of errors.” Fewer than 50 U.S. newspapers have ombudsmen, according to the International Organization of News Ombudsmen (or, as they are sometimes called, reader’s representatives or public editors).In his new role, Stone will serve as ombudsman for Colorado Mountain News Media’s daily newspapers, The Aspen Times, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the Vail Daily and the Summit Daily News.Readers can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone (toll-free) at (866) 557-NEWS (6397), or by U.S. mail at CMNM, Box 1500, Gypsum, CO 81637.
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