City Paper is not for tourists
Hey, just how worried should we all be about this lead-in-the-water story, anyway? The Washington Post’s David Brown has an answer (not too much, that is).
Saturday is a great day for longtime Post watchers. That’s the day that the paper runs its Close to Home feature, deep in the front section. It’s a spot where the region’s 5 million-plus fact-checkers tee off on a really big target: their dominant daily newspaper. So often, the gripes and errors pointed out in this space are dead-on. Yet this past Saturday’s edition featured a strain of anti-Post thought that simply has no basis in reality. I’ll take a few excerpts from the offending letters:
I am a confirmed believer in newspapers. Last week, you devoted many pages to inaugural gowns, cold musical instruments and “reality” TV shows but only 11 lines [Around the World, Jan. 23] to the new, geopolitically vital road connecting Chabahar, Zaranj and Delaram, which could change the balance of power among Pakistan, Iran, India, the Taliban and the opium growers.
Commentary: Oh no, this casts the Post in a horrible light. I am so ashamed. And this from a paper that has long promised to cover the balance of power between opium growers and the countries in which they operate.
The unemployment rate in the United States has topped 7 percent, and you’re burning calories on whether an ex-president is hogging the spotlight [“Missteps in a Majestic Week,” op-ed, Jan. 24]? We are at the very outer edges of the planet’s carrying capacity, and Colbert I. King is writing about who sits where in what pew at an event completely meaningless outside of the narrow field of vision of a very small group of process sycophants? Puh-lease.
Commentary: Yeah, King is really well known for staying away from weighty issues.
A major newspaper’s front page should contain the most important news of the day. Evidently The Post, by devoting a third of Page 1 to the marginal sport of figure skating [“Where Are the Golden Girls?” Jan. 26] disagrees.
Most of the world is experiencing an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression. Americans are losing their jobs and houses. To attempt to replace important news with a circus is reminiscent of the last days of Rome.
Commentary: Ah, the old Rome analogy—not too overplayed there, letter writer!
I love to participate in Post-bashing as much as the next guy. But let’s just make one stipulation here: For many, many decades now, there’s one Post slam that just doesn’t pass any kinda laugh or giggle test, and that’s that the paper doesn’t follow serious stories. That’s its bread and butter, whether those stories come from its very serious Metro coverage or its very serious National desk or its extremely serious biz correspondents. Occasionally, Style people swing in with some whimsy, and often some self-indulgence.
But otherwise, this is a paper that’s all about corruption, money, broken-down social services, crime & punishment, and the like. Think about the Cheney series, the CIA secret detention centers, the series on Iraqi security contractors. Last summer, the paper ran a multi-part series looking back on the murder of Chandra Levy. Out came the we-want-more-serious-coverage crowd, squawking about doing some real journalism. Such moments say more about this region—i.e., a place full of overly earnest people trying to save the world—than it does about the Post.
Speaking of serious reporting, Washington Times drills in on the Taliban’s advances in “key valley.”
DCist’s Kriston Capps asks why humans ever settled this far north.