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The great former Washington City Paper Editor Jack Shafer reportedly said many times, “There are no new stories, just new copy.”
The phrase started ringing in my head this morning as I picked up my edition of the Washington Post. There, in the bright lights, was the second part in the paper’s ongoing series on condo conversions and tenant screw-overs. The piece was about the happenings at 1846 Vernon St. NW, the site of a scary fire in late 2006.
Why the deja vu?
Because on Dec. 1, 2006, we did the exact same story here at the City Paper. The broken-down building, the owners eager to convert the place to condos, the fire, and the harrowing tales of escape—it’s all there.
But we’re not the only place to have scooped today’s Post.
The Post actually scooped today’s Post. On Dec. 10, 2006, then-Metro staffer Allen Lengel did a nice, thorough job on the Vernon Street fire. It was on the front page of the Metro section.
I mean, look: In this time of media shrinkage, it’s great to see a paper like the Post carry on with deeply reported investigative stuff, and this series indeed adds some fresh facts and developments to the 1846 saga.
But think about it. You’re getting a series on the impact of the real-estate boom, like, years after it’s over. At this point, stories about the real-estate bust are already getting tired.
So perhaps we can expect the subprime series in the Post in, say, 2015!