I read an interesting column in the Sunday Washington Post this morning by the Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander.
By Andrew Alexander
Sunday, August 15, 2010; A11
Post managers, from the top down, regularly remind the newsroom that coverage must have a “for and about Washington” focus. So when a large brawl broke out in the Metro system on a recent Friday night, it seemed a perfect chance to show local readers that The Post is their indispensable source for news.
His column discussed the complaints received from readers about the lack of coverage the Post had relating to the teen brawl that took place on the metro last Friday, August 6. He’s right, the coverage was very sparse.
On deadline, The Post gathered enough information for a news brief in Saturday’s paper, and a short story was quickly posted online.
I didn’t see anything about the melee in my Saturday paper. What I saw online Saturday was mostly in blog format, not a news article.
Throughout Saturday, it was among the most-viewed stories on the Web site, signaling intense reader interest. But as the day wore on, some readers grew frustrated that there was nothing more.
They did publish a story in last Sunday’s metro section but it wasn’t a lengthy article.
When a story for Sunday’s paper finally did appear, it offered little new. Promoted on the front page and tucked at the bottom of Sunday’s Metro section, it didn’t answer key questions: What caused the fighting? Were the people who were injured participants or bystanders? Was Metro beefing up security?
Why such thin coverage? Much of the explanation is that The Post responded with too little, too late.
So with a local news staff of about 70 reporters, why not call in reinforcements? Robert E. Pierre, the weekend editor for local news, said he saw no need. “It wasn’t about additional people,” he told me, noting that social media searches and an online appeal for witnesses had yielded little. And, he added, “the police didn’t have very much,” and what little information they disclosed was sketchy. The size of the crowd was in question, he said, and police couldn’t say how many were actually brawling.
The Post finally published a front page story on Monday, August 9 which included a family who witnessed the melee and a young man injured when riders fled the train. I was glad to see this on the front page because it is a major news story considering that thousands of folks take the metro everyday. But you know what? According to Mr. Alexander, Robert Pierre, the weekend editor for local news felt that last Monday’s front page story was given too much prominence.
When The Post finally produced a more substantive story for Monday’s paper, Pierre believes it was given too much prominence, even though it included eyewitness descriptions of multiple fights and bedlam as people tried to escape the pandemonium. The Post “overplayed it,” said Pierre. “It was a fight on the Metro. Kids get into fights.”
Say what? Dozens of teens are involved in a huge fight on the subway on a Friday night while dozens of metro riders look on and the weekend editor considered the front page story overkill? And you know why he felt that way. Cause kids get into fights. Would Mr. Pierre have said the same thing if those kids had gotten into fights with random adult metro passengers? Robert Pierre was also concerned about the racial aspect of the story. Give me a damn break.
Is Robert Pierre afraid of the reaction from black readers? Black folks take the metro too and many of us are sick and tired of the behavior of kids like those involved in the melee. We don’t all condone bad behavior. Is he afraid of some “so called black leaders” protesting in front of the Post if he puts more emphasis on this story? Who cares? Let them sit on the train with the troublemakers, without the transit police in sight, and see what it feels like to witness mayhem and deal with harassment like the woman featured in a front page article on Friday.
Nationals fans clad in red pour off the Green Line at Gallery Place, creating a massive bottleneck. The crowd headed outbound to Branch Avenue is much smaller, and when the train arrives, six women in baggy shorts and polos with oversize collars board the same car. One starts doing pull-ups on the train’s metal bar. Another marches down the aisle, shouting “Check me out!” Other passengers — Nationals fans, people heading home from work, couples returning from the movies — smile and laugh.
Then the scene gets tense. One of the young women, who won’t give her name, starts mocking a 58-year-old woman named Carol who is studying a physiology textbook in the middle of the car.
“You look like my teacher, Mrs. Wright,” the taunting woman says. “You can’t fail me anymore!” The crowd laughs, more hesitantly this time. Then the barrage of insults starts. The woman puts her nose in Carol’s hair. “You smell like cat piss,” the woman says.
Carol looks down at her book, trying to ignore the assault.
“It’s because of you that I’m gay,” the woman continues. “It’s because of you that my children are mentally retarded.” The woman gives her friends high-fives after each insult, and they laugh together. A family in Nationals uniforms moves to the other side of the car.
Five Guardian Angels arrive. They stand at one end of the car, arms crossed, silent. The woman in the baggy shorts looks at the youngest Angel, who appears to be in his teens. “What are you, 12?” she screams. “What are you gonna do, skateboard?” The Angels, in trademark red berets, do not respond.
“Ha!” the woman exclaims. “These Angels ain’t guarding [expletive].”
After a few minutes, the Angels leave the car. The woman continues to viciously mock Carol.
Carol, her tormentor and the rest of her group get off at Suitland. One of the women tells Carol, “I’m sorry, it’s just that we’ve been drinking.” She puts her arm around Carol.
Carol walks toward a cab. “You know, I wasn’t scared by what happened in there,” she says. “I was embarrassed that everyone, especially the Caucasians, had to see one black woman insulting another black woman like that. Still, what if things had escalated? The Angels were there, but they didn’t do anything. Where was the security?”
As a black woman I want to know more about the August 6 melee. I don’t like this tip toeing around because the kids are black. Hell I knew they were black. I’ve seen how some of these black kids act on the metro and it’s not a pretty sight. Do I care if the “so called black leaders” raise a ruckus? No I don’t. That will just prove to me even more so that they’ll continue with the excuses and coddle the hoodlums in the black community and as usual don’t give a damn about the victims unless it’s a white on black crime.
I would also like to say something about the Washington Post and its local news coverage. I have noticed that when it comes to the print edition for local news the Post is seriously lacking. You can read the Metro section in less than 2 minutes because it’s that thin. If you want to read any local news you have to go online and click on Local. And even then some of the local news online is in blog format and not a news article. Why bother with a print edition of the Metro section when you print mostly one paragraph articles about what’s going on locally in the Post? The Post use to be better than this. The print version of the Post seems to spend most of it time on national politics and of course Sarah Palin. I’ve seen news stories from around the world receiving better coverage than local news in the print edition. I guess that’s why they have a separate local section online. And the Washington Post wonders why they’re seeing a decline in subscribers. I’m seriously thinking about cutting back my service to Sunday only.
Maybe it’s because I’m old school that I still read the paper. It’s a habit I’ve had since I was a youngster. I also enjoy reading the news on the internet. I check out news sites from all over the country and the world. But when it comes to my local paper I would still like to enjoy reading the print edition of the Washington Post.
Back in March I blogged about the shrinking Washington Post. Well the shrinking continues. I received my Sunday paper and apparently they are phasing out TV Week unless you call or fill out a form to opt in.
I did a google and found out that this started earlier this year in Northern Virginia. They’re now targeting Prince Georges County subscribers. Here’s what I found at the Washington City Paper:
Up to now, the Washington Post has taken some pretty standard steps toward shrinking itself, consisting of shuttering some sections and taking aim and duplication. Now comes some genuine innovation on the reductionist front: An opt-in scheme for the paper’s redundant TV Week insert.
According to the plan subscribers in Arlington and Alexandria must notify the Post that they want to continue receiving TV Week. If they don’t take that step, it’ll stop coming. Partial motivation for this step is protecting the environment, as the memo states, in what’s easily the most creative of the reasons for this move.
And here is the information to readers of TV Week:
The Post is rolling out a new system March 1 called “Opt-In” for home delivery subscribers in Arlington and Alexandria. Opt-In lets readers decide whether they want to get TV Week with their Sunday package. We began communicating with readers this past weekend about this change, which makes sense on several levels:
- It delivers TV Week to every Post subscriber who wants it while reducing The Post’s costs.
- More and more subscribers can get listings on their TV sets because of the growth of digital television.
- It’s the green thing to do, as printing fewer copies means saving trees, ink and more — plus, it means less recycling to haul to the curb.
Subscribers have to contact us by Feb. 23 to say they want TV Week. There are two ways to opt-in:
- Call 202-334-WEEK (202-334-9335) and tell us you want to continue to get TV Week.
- Clip out the coupon printed in the Arlington/Alexandria zone of their TV Week and mail it in.
Starting March 1, only those Alexandria and Arlington subscribers who have told us they want TV Week will get it, as will any reader who buys a copy of The Post sold in stores or from a news rack. The daily Style section will continue to provide television coverage, as will http://www.washingtonpost.com/tv.
So if a person opts in what happens if the delivery person screws up and gives you a paper without TV Week?
Call me a forty something old schooler but I prefer to have TV Week in my hand so I can see what’s on tv for the week. I don’t like the idea of having to go to the internet all the time to see what’s on tv. I do use the guide on my cable for recording purposes and to find shows on channels not listed in TV Week, but I like the convenience of having TV Week sitting on my coffee table. So I decided to opt in.
I guess the next thing the Post will do is turn into a tabloid size newspaper since they’re on a reduction frenzy. Or maybe they’ll turn into an internet only paper like the Seattle PI 😦
Like many newspapers across the country the Washington Post is reducing the size of the paper. The Post has always had a separate Business section seven days a week but that will be changing on March 30.
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Washington Post, taking another step toward trimming the size of its newspaper, is folding its stand-alone Business section into the A section six days a week and drastically reducing the publication of stock tables.
Bringing financial news inside the A section will reduce the newspaper from five to four sections Monday through Saturday, not counting weekly feature sections such as Health, Food and Home. Business will remain a separate section on Sunday. The changes take effect March 30.
“From a reader-experience point of view, having business and economic news in the A section — overlapping with national, international, political and policy news — makes a great deal of sense,” Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said yesterday in an interview. But he did not dispute the fact that the loss of a section would mean less prominence for many business stories.
I noticed since the economy went down the toilet the Business section has been very busy. Business columnist Steven Pearlstein has been busy as ever since last year. Before the economy went downhill the Business section of the Post didn’t have much to read about. But it seems odd that now with all the economic news going on they decide to move the Business section to the A section of the paper.
I read both the print and online edition of the Washington Post, so it’s gonna seem odd to not see the separate Business section on March 30.
This is the latest belt-tightening move by The Post, which has been shrinking its print product and its staff numbers, like most newspapers across the country. Earlier, The Post eliminated the Sunday Source and Book World sections and combined the Sunday Arts and Style sections.
I miss the Sunday Source and Book World sections.
You can read the entire article here.
When I saw this headline in the Washington Post this morning I just rolled my eyes and said “WTF for??????” Like that kind of money isn’t needed here in the United States?
Bush Wants $50 Billion More for Iraq War
Planned Request Signals Confidence That Congress Won’t Prevail on Pullout
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
President Bush plans to ask Congress next month for up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, a White House official said yesterday, a move that appears to reflect increasing administration confidence that it can fend off congressional calls for a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces.
The request — which would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — is expected to be announced after congressional hearings scheduled for mid-September featuring the two top U.S. officials in Iraq. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will assess the state of the war and the effect of the new strategy the U.S. military has pursued this year.