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Is The Post falling short on Kaplan coverage?

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Critical assessments such as these have not been appearing in Post news stories about Kaplan. Nor has The Post provided in-depth reporting on the whistleblower suits or the Florida attorney general's probe.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the top local news editor, who oversees the team of education reporters and editors with primary responsibility for Kaplan coverage, said more stories are in the works. He declined to be specific, citing competitive concerns.

"We think the story has at least a couple more months to run, and we plan to cover it as we would any story affecting a big Washington company," he said.

That coverage should come soon and be ahead of the competition. It needs to be deep, authoritative and, if the facts justify it, critical of Kaplan.

The Post's reputation could suffer if readers perceive anything less, said Robert M. Steele, a media ethics expert at DePauw University. "Perception is powerful," he said. "It's no secret around the country that The Post has benefited phenomenally by the Kaplan piece of the financial puzzle these last few years."

Some in the newsroom have suggested that The Post pursue the Kaplan story by bringing in a team of outside reporters, perhaps contracting with respected Post veterans who took buyouts in recent years. Still others suggested hiring an investigative news organization such as Pro Publica to ensure that readers get independent coverage of Kaplan.

I don't think either option is needed. It may be that there is not much more to the Kaplan story. But these are options to consider if competitors offer major new disclosures and The Post's coverage lags.

A news organization's credibility is earned by aggressive, honest reporting. When self-interest comes into play, however, it can be eroded in a heartbeat.

Andrew Alexander can be reached at 202-334-7582 or at ombudsman@washpost.com. For daily updates, read the omblog at voices.washingtonpost. com/ombudsman-blog.


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