City Paper is not for tourists
Here’s yet more evidence that Washingtonians’ thirst for sensational news is going unfulfilled: the utter lack of enthusiasm among our local press for the gruesome story of someone dropping a concrete slab on a dog’s head last month.
The death of 6-month-old pitbull King Tut on Mt. Olivet Road NE is a tragedy that I don’t mean to make light of. But you do have to wonder why the story has fallen with a light thud, when it has the ingredients to create a crash of press coverage. The Post buried a story about suspect’s Sean Delontay Branch‘s arrest on the back page of Metro today, but the real onus here falls on the Examiner, the closest thing D.C. has to a scandal rag. The Examiner dropped the ball, too, though, opting to run just a three-paragraph story.
A cute dog allegedly killed over a feud between neighbors—-and the suspect has already admitted that he killed King Tut (although he says it was an accident). Could this story be served up more perfectly for a tabloid? If this happened in New York, the New York Post would have already burned through a thesaurus, settled on “BARK-BARK BARBARISM” for a headline, and be calling for Branch’s conviction. Instead, Washington gets a blotter write-up.
And it’s not just non-human scandals that are ignored by our so-called tabloids. The Albrecht Muth–Viola Drath socialite murder was ripe for daily coverage (“IRAQI WACKY”), but it took the New York Times to do the most satisfying story on it.
Washington doesn’t necessarily need a down-and-dirty tabloid. I’ll admit, grudgingly, that we’re better off without the tabloids’ laser focus on teacher-student sex and, certainly, the even less savory practices of their British cousins. But that doesn’t make it any less of a mystery that the District, for all of its sex, power, and footloose reporters, can’t generate a tabloid worth the name.