What was on the minds of Post readers this week, as judged by their e-mails and phone calls to the ombudsman?
Hatchets, tweets, kitties, and stickers.
Okay, okay, that makes light of what was a serious week here at complaint central.
1) Hatchets, as in “hatchet job,” as in the most frequent phrase to describe The Post’s story about Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and his assertion that he is the son of Cuban exiles who fled Fidel Castro. I disagree that the piece was a hatchet job, and you can read my Sunday column for my observations on that story.
2) Tweets, as in a tweet that The Post’s conservative opinion blogger, Jennifer Rubin, put out on Twitter on Oct. 18. Actually it was a retweet of a tweet from Rachel Abrams, a hard-line pro-Israel blogger who used the tweet to link to her blog post on the release by Hamas of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held for five years in captivity in Gaza.
The original blog post by Abrams (not by Rubin) was offensive to many readers in its anti-Palestinian language. The fact that a Post blogger — even an opinion blogger like Rubin not subject to the same ethical guidelines as Post news editors and reporters — retweeted it, outraged many. I didn’t like it either, and I’ll elaborate on that in my Post Roast on Monday.
3) Kitties, as in well, the kitty cat that was featured in a photo on page A3 of The Post on Oct. 26. The feline was being petted by an Oakland, Calif., police officer, awwww. The photo, although cute, did not at all go with the adjacent Associated Press brief , which recounted how police in riot gear fired tear gas and bean bags at Occupy Oakland protesters and arrested 75 people. Nor did the photo go with what really happened on the ground the day before in Oakland, which was even worse than that.
Readers following the Oakland action the day before wrote that they watched a near riot unfold via streaming video from California television stations or via mobile applications. But The Post only gave it a brief and then ran a mismatched photo.
“I'm sure you have had no end of well-deserved scorn and derision for your ‘cute kitty’ photo from the Occupy Oakland gathering,” wrote a reader named John B. Stokes. “I knew more about this news event. . .sitting in my living room in Austin [than you did]. I was listening to Oakland Police Department police scanners (get the app!) and watching live streaming video of the police actions.”
4) Finally, readers were upset about stickers. To be precise, the stickers that appear now occasionally on the front page of print editions of The Post, stickers that are advertisements for this or that. They’re about 3 inches by 3 inches and can be peeled off, but readers find that they often obscure the paper’s banner, or the day’s leading headline.
Mark Maddrey wrote this to me:
“I have always laughed at the ‘I’m going to cancel my subscription because of…’ people, but the paper I received on Thursday has just about put me in that camp. The paper is ‘The Washingto’ and my favorite part is the sub-headline which teasingly says ‘Coptic Christians demand an end to…’ An end to what? No way for me to know as the. . . sticker blocks it. This new form of advertising is low rent and should not be used on ‘The Washingto.’
“I’m a newspaper junkie. But junky newspapers are not for me. Is this the start of a trend? If so, the paper may lose me as a subscriber. If this is a one off, then good riddance.”
I’m sorry to report that this is not a one off. I’m afraid you’ll be seeing this regularly. The Post, according to advertising executives here, was one of the last major dailies not to use these advertising stickers.
I don’t like the stickers either, but if I had to choose, I would take the stickers over the online video ads and slow download times of the Web site.