Aside from its status as the nation’s capital, Washington is the home to several professional sports teams. And when one of these teams does something noteworthy, editors here find themselves facing tough choices about when it’s the right time to put sports news (that also happens to be local) on Page A1, as opposed to the front of the Sports section.
Take, for example, the recent lead-up to the start Thursday of the NFL Draft. A photo of quarterback Robert Griffin III, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, was splashed across Page One last Sunday, accompanying a lengthy profile of the player that many expected (correctly) would be the Redskins’ top draft pick. Some readers felt this was a better fit for the Sports front rather than for a newspaper’s most coveted real estate on A1.
“It’s a sad day when The Washington Post publishes a Sunday edition that aims to attract sports talk-radio fans rather than its readers who have long looked to the paper for actual news. Why were most of the front-page and two entire interior pages of the A section devoted to a college football player who may become a Redskin? We who subscribe expect to read about the many important events actually happening in the world. At least wait until he wins the Super Bowl to put him on page one,” wrote one reader.
Fair enough. But now that the Redskins have officially drafted RGIII, could we be seeing a lot more of him and the team on the front page?
On the other hand, readers are also wondering why the Nationals’ early success this season isn’t putting them onto the front page more often. Here’s what one reader had to say:
“For the first time in my local memory (going back to 1946), the Washington baseball team is performing outstandingly. Number one in the league as of yesterday. And is it in screaming headlines on the front page? No. On the front page of the Sports section? No. I have to go through the Sports section to find out how they did last night. . . . It must be pretty discouraging for the team to be so ignored when they are excelling. As they say: ‘What is wrong with you people?’ ”
So what do you think? When should sports news be on the front page of the paper, and when should it stick to the Sports front? Do the Redskins get too much coverage, or the Nationals too little? Give us your thoughts in the comments.
Then there is the case of the silver spoon.
In an April 19 blog post, Philip Rucker described President Obama as taking a “swipe” at Mitt Romney and quoted the president as saying, “Unlike some people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.” Obama said only part of that sentence, however; the words “unlike some people” were added by Steve Doocy in a report on Fox News.
The story was quickly corrected online, but readers were upset that The Post had perpetuated an inaccurate quote. They said that fact-checking standards must stay high if The Post is to remain a reputable news source, especially over the course of the next few months.
One reader wrote: “It seems to me that the most basic principles of journalism would have a reporter go to what Obama actually said. . . . Can’t The Washington Post do at least that much for readers? There is a lot at stake for Americans during this election season.”
Alison Coglianese is the editorial aide to ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton.