ESPN has been the latest to let go its public editor. While newspapers see the public editor position as vital to their success, consumers might not even notice the absence. Some may not even know what a public editor is.
A public editor is the voice of the consumer and is an internal critic that helps media outlets appeal to consumers better. Public editors are more important than ever before as the media are defamed constantly for producing fake news and not being reliable. Eliminating the position could increase industry backlash even more.
At the same time, big media outlets question what public editors can provide compared to the many online critics of their publications that can post in real-time, seconds after a story is published. Social media allows more critics to share their opinions faster. The Washington Post and The New York Times have let go of their public editors as well.
Today, only a couple of large news organizations continue to employ public editors. The general public does not see the negative consequences of the loss of the profession, but journalists, editors and news companies mourn their public editors, who are dwindling rapidly.