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The Ombudsman Column

A Note to Readers and Responders

Due to technical problems here at PBS headquarters, the Ombudsman's page on the PBS website was temporarily disrupted — including the disappearance of all recent columns and almost the entire archive — from the early morning hours of Monday, July 22, until Tuesday, July 23. That material has now been restored.

More importantly, as part of those same technical problems, the "SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS" box on the right-hand side of the Ombudsman's page which enables viewers to send their observations directly to me was also disabled from July 22 until today, July 31. All comments submitted to the ombudsman via that feedback form during that period cannot be retrieved.

So they are gone and there is nothing I can do except apologize on behalf of PBS. For those of you reading this who sent comments to me about PBS offerings during that time, I invite you to resend them and I will try my best to respond to all of them. We are back in business as of today and the online form is working again. You can also always e-mail the office directly at ombudsman@pbs.org.

Our office hears from viewers through a number of venues but we were unaware that one of the major channels — the feedback form on the Ombudsman's page — was not in service. The IT people here appear also to have been unaware of it until we told them that our email traffic was well below normal.

The full technical explanation is, well, too technical. But basically we were told that "in order to better respond to increasing user traffic, PBS transitioned a number of web pages to new servers. The move took place during the early morning hours of Monday, July 22, and included the [PBS] NewsHour and Ombudsman sites. There was a technical complication during this process and publishing capabilities were temporarily disrupted." Later, we were told that due to other factors, "the servers that handle the mailing functionality for your feedback form" experienced instability and that "this caused their temporary mail stores to be lost."

This is the first time this has happened, it happened as part of an effort to improve service and, I'm told, "we don't expect a situation like this to occur again." So, again, our apologies and please, keep on writing.