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Howell-ing At The Press

As expected, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell addressed her critics in her Sunday column in which she acknowledged her "mistake" of writing that lobbyist Jack Abramoff personally gave money to Democrats. And she vowed to press on:
"Going forward, here's my plan. I'll watch every word. I'll read every e-mail and answer as many legitimate complaints as I can. The vast majority of my work takes place outside this column. But I will reject abuse and all that it stands for.

To all of those who wanted me fired, I'm afraid you're out of luck. I have a contract. For the next two years, I will continue to speak my mind.

Keep smiling. I will."

Her much-anticipated words may not do all that much to quiet the furor of last week which led the Washingtonpost.com to close the comments section on its post.blog. The site's executive editor, Jim Brady, tells PressThink's Jay Rosen he's still committed to a dialogue with the public but adds:'
"It's pretty simple, actually: As a site, we've decided there have to be limits on the language people can use. I'm getting a lot of e-mail saying, essentially, that I need to accept the fact that profanity and name-calling are part of the web DNA. That may be true for the Web as a whole—though I hope not—but I don't run the Web as a whole, I run washingtonpost.com, and on our site, we get to make the rules. Readers can reject those rules, and post elsewhere. That's their right. There are plenty of blogs that will allow commenters to say whatever they want; we're just not going to be one of those."
See Romenesko for a rundown of the chatter on this from the past several days, but take note of David Carr's piece in The New York Times where he has this take:
"It was not that long ago when readers enraged by something they had seen in the newspaper would have to find a pen, a piece of paper, an envelope and a stamp to make their feelings heard. Now, mainstream media outlets find themselves under attack for not providing bandwidth and visibility to people who wish them dead.

Personally, I'm all for a robust interaction with the reading public. My address is David Carr, New York Times, 229 West 43rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. And don't forget that the price of stamps just went up."