Ian Mayes

Ian Mayes is a British journalist and editor. He was the first "readers' editor" – a title he invented for the newspaper ombudsman role[1] — of The Guardian, from November 1997 to March 2007,[2][3] and was president of the international Organization of News Ombudsmen from May 2005 to May 2007,[2][4] serving as a board member since May 2002[5] after joining in April 2001.[6]


Ian Mayes' career as a journalist spans six decades and includes many years as features editor of the Northampton Chronicle and Echo,[7] before he joined BBC Radio News in Broadcasting House (1979–87), then became assistant features editor of the short-lived London Daily News.[8]

Mayes began writing for The Guardian as a freelance in 1962, his first piece being a story on the features page (then edited by Brian Redhead) about the return of Laurie Lee to the village of Slad in Gloucestershire, where Cider with Rosie was set.[9] It was towards the end of 1988[8] that Mayes joined the staff of the newspaper; his first ten years included launching The Guardian Weekend magazine and the daily G2 section with former editor Alan Rusbridger, and time served as deputy features editor, arts editor and obituaries editor.

From November 1997 to March 2007, Mayes was The Guardian′s Readers' Editor – a title he invented for the newspaper ombudsman role[1] to suggest a bridge between readers and journalists[10] — the first such appointment of a resident independent ombudsman in the UK.[2][3] Other British newspapers, including The Observer, The Independent on Sunday and the Daily Mirror, quickly followed suit in appointing readers' editors, although Mayes was the only one to do the job full-time.[11] The Guardian system was also closely replicated on newspapers such as Politiken in Denmark and The Hindu in India.[10]

Through an influential weekly column called "Open Door",[12] Mayes dealt with corrections and clarifications (14,000 in his decade in the post),[13] as well as conducting a debate on the ethics of journalism.[14][10] Selections from the columns were collected in four books: Corrections and Clarifications (2000), Corrections and Clarifications 2002 (2002), Only Correct: The Best of Corrections and Clarifications (2005) and Journalism Right and Wrong: Ethical and Other Issues Raised by Readers in the Guardian's Open Door Column. A translated selection of the columns was produced by Moscow State University under the title Rabota nad oshibkami (Work on mistakes).[10]

He was president of the international Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO) from May 2005 to May 2007,[2][4] serving as a board member since May 2002[15] after joining in April 2001.[6] He has lectured and taken part in seminars on the function of ombudsmen in the media nationally and internationally (including in the US, Russia, Scandinavia, and Slovenia),[8] inspiring newspapers in other parts of the world to create their own readers' editors; typically, The Hindu has referenced "the exemplary practice and experience of The Guardian, whose pioneering RE, Ian Mayes, had set the bar high."[16] He is credited with the discovery of the "apostrofly", "an insect which lands at random on the printed page depositing an apostrophe wherever it alights".[17][18] His last column as Readers' Editor appeared on 2 April 2007,[3] since when he has been an associate editor of the Guardian.[19]

He has been honoured by the creation of "The Ian Mayes Award for Writing Wrongs" in 2008.[20][21]

Mayes has been researching and writing over the past decade the third volume of the official history of The Guardian,[22][3][23] beginning in 1986, his aim being to "humanise the decisions that have shaped the Guardian and its editorial line".[9]

Hazlitt SocietyEdit

Mayes was instrumental in the project to restore William Hazlitt's grave,[24] after visiting the original neglected gravestone in St Anne's Churchyard early in 2001.[25][26] The restored grave was unveiled by Michael Foot on the 225th anniversary of Hazlitt's birth, 10 April 2003.[27][28] Mayes was closely involved with the subsequent formation of the Hazlitt Society,[29] of which he was inaugural Chairman.[30]



  • Samuel De Wilde, c.1751-1832: Theatre in Georgian and Regency London : George James De Wilde, 1804-1871, The life and times of Victorian Northampton: An exhibition at Northampton Central Art Gallery, 4 September to 2 October, 1971 (Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, 1971).
  • Corrections and Clarifications (Fourth Estate, 2000), ISBN 978-1-84115-608-8, and (Guardian Books, 2000), ISBN 978-1-84115-603-3
  • Corrections and Clarifications 2002 (Atlantic Books, 2002), ISBN 978-1-84354-173-8
  • Only Correct: The Best of Corrections and Clarifications (Guardian Books, 2005), ISBN 978-1-84354-465-4
  • Journalism Right and Wrong: Ethical and Other Issues Raised by Readers in the Guardian's Open Door Column (Guardian Books, February 2007), ISBN 978-0-00-719667-8

Selected articlesEdit


  1. ^ a b "Democracy, media and (cyber) ombudsmen", Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO), 21 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Ian Mayes, "Open Door: The readers' editor on ... his last annual report before handing over", The Guardian, 6 November 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d Ian Mayes, "Open Door: The ex-readers' editor on ... moving into Guardian history, without complaint", The Guardian, 2 April 2007.
  4. ^ a b ONO's Members Archived 9 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine Organization of News Ombudsmen
  5. ^ Ian Mayes, "Open Door: Word abroad", The Guardian, 11 May 2002.
  6. ^ a b Ian Mayes, "Open Door: Ono? Oh, yes", The Guardian, 27 April 2001.
  7. ^ Paul Linford, "National newsman's memories of ex-regional daily", Hold the Front Page, 25 March 2013.
  8. ^ a b c "Annex: A statement by Ian Mayes, Readers' Editor", Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, www.parliament.co.uk.
  9. ^ a b Chris Elliott, "'I wanted to take you inside the paper' – a new history of the Guardian", The Guardian (Members area), 10 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Ian Mayes, "'Why should newspapers not be accountable?'", Open Door, The Guardian, 22 October 2017.
  11. ^ Ian Mayes, "Trust me — I’m an ombudsman"[permanent dead link], British Journalism Review, Archive.
  12. ^ David Nolan, "Public editors, ‘media governance’ and journalistic practice", School of Culture and Communication University of Melbourne, p. 7.
  13. ^ "Guardian readers' editor Ian Mayes talks to PG", Press Gazette, 5 January 2007.
  14. ^ "Newspapers and accountability", Department of Journalism Studies, The University of Sheffield, 30 November 2006.
  15. ^ Ian Mayes, "Open door: Word abroad", The Guardian, 11 May 2002.
  16. ^ N. Ram, "Holding the newspaper to account", The Hindu, 29 February 2016.
  17. ^ Ian Mayes, "Open door: It's in its rightful place", The Guardian, 30 September 2002.
  18. ^ Ian Mayes, "The return of the apostrofly", The Guardian, 4 December 2004.
  19. ^ Ian Mayes page at The Guardian.
  20. ^ Craig Silverman, "The Year in Errata", Columbia Journalism Review, 19 December 2008.
  21. ^ Craig Silverman, Crunks 2008: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections, RegretTheError.com
  22. ^ "Writing wrongs: Guardian readers' editor Ian Mayes", Press Gazette, 12 January 2007.
  23. ^ Chris Elliott, "The paper's relationship with its readers is unlike any other'", Press Reader, 8 April 2017.
  24. ^ A. C. Grayling, "A memorial for Hazlitt", The Guardian, 21 April 2001.
  25. ^ Ian Mayes, "Revival time", The Guardian, 5 May 2001, via Hazlitt Society.
  26. ^ Ian Mayes, "Hazlitt day", The Guardian, 30 December 2002, via Hazlitt Society.
  27. ^ John Ezard, "William Hazlitt's near-derelict grave restored", The Guardian, 11 April 2003; also at "Radical Solution: William Hazlitt's near derelict grave restored", Hazlitt Society.
  28. ^ "About the Hazlitt Society".
  29. ^ Ian Mayes, "The readers' editor on ... an invitation to admirers of William Hazlitt", The Guardian, 24 July 2006.
  30. ^ Uttara Natarajan, "Editor's Note", The Hazlitt Review, Vol. 10, 2017.

External linksEdit