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Posted at 06:10 PM ET, 10/07/2011

Reader Meter: Rick Perry, Fast and Furious, and problems reporting problems

This week, the top four topics on the minds of readers were:

1) The marker stone with a racial slur written on it at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas hunting ranch. The exclusive Oct. 2 Post story about it appeared on the front page of Sunday editions and triggered a flood of e-mail, most of it negative. I will be addressing the matter in my ombudsman column this weekend.

2) The Post’s coverage of recent developments in the Fast and Furious gun trafficking case, particularly about Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and what he knew and when he knew it.

3) Ongoing issues with The Post’s Web site and its slow downloading speeds, especially following my recent column on the subject. But in addition to load times, readers have had problems with the “Report a Problem” link not working.

4) The Post’s coverage, or lack thereof, of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which are now spreading to cities across the country and sprouted in the District over the past couple of days.

Let’s start with No. 3, the Web site.

A few months back, the Post’s Web team took a step in the right direction by adding a “Report a Problem” link at the bottom of every Web page on washingtonpost.com. But unfortunately, and ironically, it often didn’t work for many folks. That only compounded their frustration with the slow download times.

But the cause of the Report a Problem glitch has now been discovered and fixed. The problem was mainly for readers using Internet Explorer 7 and, occasionally, Internet Explorer 8, and how those browsers interacted with the new link. Post Web developers say it was fixed as of Oct. 5 and should be working fine now. Let me know if it isn’t.

Now for Fast and Furious.

Conservative readers really don’t like the attorney general and think that he’s lying about how much he knew about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sting operation that went awry and resulted in more than 2,000 guns being trafficked into Mexico or onto U.S. streets.

I wrote a column about The Post’s coverage in August, pointing out that The Post has extensively covered this issue and in fact led in some areas. This week reporter Sari Horwitz had new reports on this issue, including one about an earlier operation, under the George W. Bush administration, that also saw guns walk across the border.

Ask the Post,” a new feature on the Web site that seeks to answer reader questions, also lists recent stories on Fast and Furious as does an earlier blog post I wrote on the subject.

Not all of the Post stories on Fast and Furious reach the conclusions that conservatives want — that this is the worst Washington scandal since Watergate — but the goal of journalists is to report the facts as they unfold, not to prejudge them.

 On to the Wall Street protests, which are now moving to Main Street and in fact right down to McPherson Square, which is one block from The Post building here in D.C.

The Post was a bit tardy in reporting this story, as most of the major media were, but Post coverage picked up this week, in part because it became much more of a Washington story. President Obama talked about it in his news conference, The Post ran a Metro front story on Oct. 7, and Metro columnist Petula Dvorak did a column on protesters and D.C. bystanders. Compost writer Alexandra Petri and other Post bloggers have weighed in. And on Oct. 4, The Post ran a front-page story from New York on the protests there and around the country.

For more explanation of why The Post delayed coverage of the Wall Street protests, see my Reader Meter blog post from last week, and a Q&A on “Ask the Post.”

By  |  06:10 PM ET, 10/07/2011

 
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