People had warned me that the Washington City Paper would do a sneering hatchet job on the protests against the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, so I was not surprised to read Kevin Diaz’s article (“Puppet Show,” 4/21). Indeed, when I talked to Diaz as he prepared the article it was obvious that he was interested in learning nothing about either the destructive policies of IMF and the World Bank, or the Mobilization for Global Justice, which organized the protests. Rather, he was obsessed with who the leaders were.
What’s striking to me is that the coverage in the metro section of the Washington Post was so much better. I can’t think of a more damning criticism of the coverage of an alleged community newspaper of a protest largely organized by people who live in the District: The corporate media did a better job of getting the story of the people who protested.
Readers of the Post learned that the protesters had a fierce commitment to egalitarianism, democracy, and participation. Readers of Time magazine learned that the Mobilization included Jobs with Justice and organized labor—Time referred to the IMF as “Dr. Death” for its policies in Tanzania. None of this appeared in the City Paper. Instead, the City Paper story focused on a few individuals—including people who had very little to do with the Mobilization.
The protesters’ criticisms of the IMF and the World Bank were endorsed by leaders of developing countries representing more than 80 percent of the world’s population. (This was reported in the Post.) Surely such historic demonstrations deserved fairer and more accurate coverage from a community newspaper.
Your letters page advertises: “A Story a Reporter Can’t Tell: A story like yours.” Apparently this story—of people traveling across the country; sleeping on floors; braving pepper spray, arrest, and beatings to denounce the institutions that block the democratic national economic development of Third World countries—was just such a story. So my suggestion would be: Why don’t you solicit accounts from people who joined these protests? I’m sure your readers would find it more interesting than the shallow account they’ve seen so far.