The agenda of every good newspaper should be accurate, objective news gathering and reporting, quickly corrected when in error.

‘No Comment’ from the Washington Post

Michael Getler, the ombudsman of the Washington Post, must not have liked the complaint we sent him two weeks ago, seeking action on an article in which a reporter seemed to act as nothing more than a willing stenographer for anti-ANWR drilling propaganda.  He didn’t respond directly, and he didn’t respond publicly.

Perhaps he’s just been too busy, working from bad story to bad story, more getting nailed daily by a growing corps of blog researchers.  Perhaps he’s just a dead letter drop where complaints go to be buried so as not to interfere with the newspaper’s mission, which in many cases would not currently be mistaken for objective journalism.  Perhaps he was too distracted by getting his new job as ombudsman for PBS, its first, which he will take next month.

Regardless, we made our point, with documentation sufficient to raise red flags.  (Read “Who You Gonna Trust: CFIF or the Washington Post?”)  All newspapers make mistakes.  But those that won’t correct them in a straightforward, timely manner have no claim to credibility.  Why, The New York Times just issued its fourth correction for one Paul Krugman column.  That may not instill great confidence in Krugman’s accuracy, but it’s something.

It’s possible, of course, that Mr. Getler thinks we are wrong, maybe even pushing forged documents.  There’s some of that going around, mostly on the press side.  But if that’s the case, he should say so, and we’ll respond appropriately.

In another context, David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist, wrote this week, “Reporters and their sources shouldn’t determine a newspaper’s agenda… That’s a job for editors and their publishers.”  True enough.  But the agenda of every good newspaper should be accurate, objective news gathering and reporting, quickly corrected when in error.  In this incident, that agenda has gone missing.


Month Day, 2005
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