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OmBlog
Posted at 05:02 PM ET, 09/23/2011

Reader Meter: Middle East, drones, and bias

I receive hundreds of e-mails and dozens of phone calls every week on more topics than I can count. But most weeks, a handful of recurring themes seem to dominate both the inbox and the call log.

Each Friday I’ll be giving a rundown of the issues that motivate people to sit down at their keyboard or pick up the phone and get in touch with us. I’ll call it Reader Meter. In doing so, I hope to identify more closely what matters to you, the readers of The Post, and to draw inspiration for what needs to be addressed or aired out in a Sunday column or here on the Omblog.

And who knows, we all just might learn a thing or two.

This week:

1) Israel/Palestine: President Obama’s speech this week to the United Nations General Assembly, and The Post’s stories before and after the speech, garnered a lot of attention from readers. Indeed, stories about the Middle East peace process, and Israel and the Palestinians in general, are perhaps the most scrutinized of any coverage The Post undertakes.

The mail on Middle East issues is usually about 20 to 1, with 20 people saying The Post is anti-Israel for every one reader saying The Post is too friendly to Israel. I’ll have more to say about this in future weeks.

2.) Military drone bases: On Wednesday, The Post ran a Page A1 story regarding “secret” drone bases in the area around Yemen and Somalia. Readers, like the one below, thought this to be too revealing of U.S. national security secrets:

“I am questioning the issue of reporting ‘secret information’ that may hurt the U.S.’s ability to accomplish their objectives,” wrote a reader from Minneapolis. “Is reporting this story responsible journalism?”

I think a careful reading of the drone story reveals that a lot of government sources were quoted, showing that these bases are not as secret as one thinks and that the Pentagon was comfortable talking about it, perhaps with an eye to warning any adversaries.

 3.) Circulation: Hundreds of thousands of people start their morning with the printed Post, and when it’s not on their doorstep, some of the complaints trickle down to me, even though that’s not my role. You may remember from my column this Sunday how the circulation department gets the paper out. I do my best to direct any comments to them and let them resolve the issue.

4.) Online comments: Readers both love, and hate, online comments that appear with Post stories. Many readers write to protest the fact that they were banned from commenting after they went beyond The Post’s guidelines about civility and language. Others write to point out offensive comments that the moderators didn’t catch. See my blog post on this topic.

 5.) Political Bias: Many feel The Post is leaning in a specific direction. The majority of letters say The Post is too liberal, but a significant percentage say it is too conservative. We’ll have more to say about this in future columns.

By  |  05:02 PM ET, 09/23/2011

 
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