November 9, 2003 by

Charles Seib


Categories: Media

Charles B. Seib, the former ombudsman of The Washington Post, died on Oct. 23 following a brief illness. He was 84.

Seib graduated with a journalism degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., and took a job with the Evening Chronicle in Allentown. After working at The Associated Press, the Philadelphia Record, the International News Service and the Gannett News Service, Seib joined The (Washington) Evening Star in 1954 as a reporter on the national desk. He was later promoted to be the paper’s Sunday editor and managing editor.

In the 1970s, Seib was tapped to succeed Robert C. Maynard as the Washington Post’s fourth ombudsman. His job was to answer readers’ complaints and monitor the newspaper for fairness. He was the first Post ombudsman to work under a long-term contract.

The author of “The Woods: One Man’s Escape to Nature,” Seib spent the last years of his life teaching journalism part-time at the University of Maryland, Harvard University, Northeastern University and Syracuse University. His historical papers are housed at the University of Maryland library.

11 Responses to Charles Seib

  1. Steve Laughlin

    Charles Seib’s book “The Woods” was a wonderful find for me (given as a gift many years ago)and made me feel very connected to this person I never met. I was saddened to hear just now of his passing.

  2. Shirley Christie

    I only know of Mr. Seib through an article I read many years ago in a magazine (name unknown). It was a 5-6 page article on the cabin with a picture of the cabin in the woods and another of the inside. I have kept this article for probably 25 or more years in a folder entitled “Dream Cabin.” My dream cabin never came to pass but I have often reread the article and gained much pleasure from doing so.
    I recently visited a site somewhat like Mr. Seib’s cabin site and wondered what his site might be like now. If this information is available, I would very much appreciate someone sharing it with me. His writing gave me a dream.

  3. John Ferris

    Charles Seib was an inspiring and demanding professor, and I was privilged to have been in one of his graduate classes at Syracuse in the early 1980s. I still have many of his handouts…particularly those from The Post’s coverage of its “Jummy’s World” debacle.
    He gave a somewhat insecure young journalist confidence through his judgment and encouragment. He is among the top five teachers I have had in my career.

  4. le

    I have got the his book and like it very much.I am in China and cant find the more information of him and anybody can help me? I would much appriciate him(or her).

  5. Adam Dawson

    Charles Seib is my grandfather, he was a great person and will be missed. I still have a signed copy of his book The Woods on my bookshelf that I’ll cherish forever.

  6. Barbara Kelly

    Yes, The Woods was a great book. More than that it was a great place to visit. I remember going there with Mr. Seib, his daughter Caroline, and my fahter and brother. As I write this so many years later, I can smell the pine trees, visualize the cabin and the pond.
    And, I recall the ride down the dirt road to the location which was to be the cabin before it was built. At that time I thought it stange that a man would wish to build a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. We lived in Chevy Chase DC afterall. Then, when the book was published I was so excited to see my name in print.
    Thanks Charlie for sharing your special place with me.

  7. Bill Lewis

    I found Charles Seib’s The Woods among my late aunt’s books…a collection almost completely composed of diet books from the 60’s and 70’s, and Reader’s Digest Condensed Classics. However, after nearly condemning the whole lot to the trash, I spied Seib’s thin volume, and, for some reason, separated it from the chaff and tucked it into my bag. And what a wonderful decision that turned out to be. Over the past few years, I have returned to this book time and again, to re-read it in its entirety, or to read piecemeal, enjoying a small snippet of his work and his words, to relish the pleasures of his Woods, and to gain insight into the ways that I enjoy my own Pennsylvania cabin, the natural world, and my place in it. Charles Seib strikes me as an intelligent, gentle and sympathetic man, and although his life away from The Woods was probably more complicated than we know, his simple and refreshing book speaks to me with a voice of hope: that simplicity is achievable in the midst of great turmoil, that the gentle turn of seasons can lead to a gentleness in our own spirits. I am sorry that I did not know Charles Seib, but I admire what he accomplishes in this book.


    i read The Woods years ago and was impressed by life in the cozy cabin, the solitude, and simplesness of his visits, I went to try and find that cabin in the woods, just from the book description. I ended up calling Mr. Seib and he gave me that Rappahannock, Va. address and I found it. Deep in the woods, secluded, hidden, the Thoueau type existence was awesome. I will never forget it.. I am saddened by his death..

  9. Gary Harlander

    I think Mr. Seib probably would have appreciated the fact that I found his wonderful book, The Woods, in a small-town bookstore in the north woods of Wisconsin. I can honestly say that his wit, candor and genuine feelings for his Woods changed my life. I had purchased 50 acres of woodland, with a small pond, for investment purposes a year before finding his book. After reading his book, I decided to make a career change and move back to my beloved northern Wisconsin roots. There is now a small home overlooking the pond. The bass and sunfish provide constant entertainment. I also tried building a pond, with the County’s assistance, but mine was a leaker from day one and still is. The deer, bear, eagles, beaver, squirrels…they all belong and I hope that someday I will, too. Thank you, Charles.

  10. Anne Carey

    I was a middle-aged divorcee, trying to raise and support two teenaged boys on the pittance I earned working two full-time clerical jobs. There was no time in my dreary life for day-dreaming about cozy cabins in the woods, but when I saw Mr. Seib’s slender little book nearly buried at the bottom of a pile of 75% off books on a sale table in one of downtown Richmond’s biggest department stores, something made me pull it out of the pile and pay $2.59 of my hard-earned cash for it. I felt guilty about squandering even that much on a personal splurge, but it turned out to be money well spent! Stealing an hour here and there to dip into Mr. Seib’s well-written account of his adventures planning, building, and eventually enjoying the fruits of his labor gave me at least the illusion of sharing those magical times and places with him as surely as if I’d been there in person. I wrote to him to express my gratitude for THE WOODS and to thank him for writing it. Weeks later, I received a short letter from Mr. Seib, thanking me for my letter and giving me a brief update on his latest visit to the cabin. I still have that letter tucked inside my copy of THE WOODS. I treasure them both and will keep that book (and continue to refer to it when my spirit needs an uplift) for the rest of my life. I’m now 80 years old and having to “downsize” drastically. I’ve even had to give away many of my most beloved books. But part with THE WOODS – NEVER! If you have not discovered it yet, it’s well-worth the search, and I envy you your first read!

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