Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander is a careful, thorough reporter. When something goes wrong at the paper, you can be sure he’s talking with all relevant parties, compiling a sound account of what went on (especially in his killer investigation of the “salons” episode).
On his blog today, Alexander gives his patented treatment to the Bill Turque—Jo-Ann Armao—Michelle Rhee—Fred Hiatt meltdown. The post includes comments from Metro reporter Turque, who wrote the blog post heard around the newsroom, and from top Metro editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, and from education editor Craig Timberg, and from other key players.
It covers all the central ethical issues involved in the spat—-except perhaps the most important one.
While the Post seems obsessed with whether Turque was on firm ground in slamming Armao and the editorial board over its favorable editorials about schools Chancellor Rhee, and whether he could have been more guarded or fairer in his writing, no one seems too concerned with the paper’s digital hygiene.
To recap: After Turque blasted the people on the other side of the firewall, newsroom brass took down the offending blog post, edited out all the juicy stuff, and reposted it without any italics. Meaning, there was no explanation that the original post had been altered and, honestly, bowdlerized.
That’s bad enough. What’s worse is that the ombo chose not to explore the question in his posting on the matter. So what you have here is a newsroom that doesn’t seem to respect blogspace and an ombo that ignores it—-not a constructive combo.
Reached on the matter, Alexander would say only, “It’s a legitimate issue that I plan to look into. I never comment beyond my blog or column.”