Monday, January 09, 2006

Pressure the Post? Why Bother?

Worthy Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail is upset at The Washington Post for the inaccuracies in its article on milbloggers last month. Amazingly, the Post ran a correction, but even that isn't enough for Bill.

My opinion:

I think the problem is that we expect too much from the Washington Post. They are probably the best MSM newspaper in the country, and if they describe a person's function accurately, attribute a quote properly, and spell a name correctly I consider it unreasonable to expect much more from them.

How many times have I seen an incorrect phone # in their classified ads? Merchants and citizens who actually PAY to be in the paper? ("Oh, we'll run it for you again next week for free." "But by then, the sale/event/deadline will be over!")

Bad headline? The editor writes that, not the reporter, and it may have no real connection with the article. Compared to some, Roggio has nothing to complain about; Natan Sharansky believes that an inaccurate Washington Post headline sent him to the Soviet Gulag for thirteen years!

No, the Post's standards just aren't that high. The correct posture is not to accept anything they print too seriously, and to doubt anything even slightly complicated until, from double-checking, you can gauge the reliability of individual reporters yourself.

As for whether they are pro-this or pro-that: the newspaper has a way to go before I'd want the endorsement of their opinion.

If they want to change, they should get the facts straight first, and write the opinion/spin separately afterwards. Nothing wrong with that approach. If it uses more column-inches the deadlines of other reporters can be stretched a little.

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