Why play up a mid-level resignation involving Afghanistan?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

As a fan of The Post, I have long been pleased with the restrained, balanced journalism that you typically practice. But I was surprised at the editorial decision to display "U.S. official resigns over Afghan war" above the fold on the front page on Oct. 27.

A story about a mid-level U.S. official in Afghanistan resigning over his convictions was, indeed, newsworthy. And I applaud Karen DeYoung for a story that was interesting, illuminating and thorough. But running a story like that in such a prominent spot is not just covering the news, it is making news.

I am a journalism student at American University, where some professors teach us to use the "3 C's" to determine a story's newsworthiness: celebrity (Is this person important or well-known?), currency (Did this happen recently?) and conflict. This story certainly has conflict. Celebrity is arguable. How about currency? This is where the story falls way short of the front page.

Matthew Hoh resigned in mid-September, presenting two problems: (1) That was more than a month ago. (2) Hoh resigned before the debate over the direction of the war fully erupted, making his resignation already outdated.

Should a story that has only 1.5 out of three C's be splashed across more than 600,000 papers across the region? No. The only explanation I can think of for The Post to run this in one of A1's top slots is that the decision maker was trying to make news, kick up some dirt and focus people on an issue that The Post wants them to focus on.

Charlie Szold,

New Fairfield, Conn.

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