Wednesday, May 9, 11 a.m. ET

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Deborah Howell
Washington Post Ombudsman
Wednesday, May 9, 2007; 11:00 AM

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell will be online Wednesday, May 9 at 11 a.m. to discuss her weekly column and her role in improving public understanding of the newspaper and journalism.

A transcript follows.

Read her column archives.

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Alexandria, Va.: A question about the mechanics of delivering the paper: Why does the Post put all its newspapers in plastic bags? I live in an apartment, and my paper comes to me duly wrapped, whether it's raining outside or not.

I know some of these bags carry advertising to help the Post's bottom line, but at a time when some cities are banning plastic bags to save oil (and the environment), do we really need hundreds of thousands of plastic bags lying around?

Getting rid of the plastic -- at least on days when papers won't get wet -- would help us avoid having to recycle all those bags, not to mention worrying about the ones that don't get reused.

Deborah Howell: The paper is delivered in plastic so that no matter where it lands, it will be dry and clean for the reader.

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St. Mary's City, Md.: While I'm not a Christian, I've noticed that the Post and many other media outlets seem to treat "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" as synonyms. Alan Cooperman's article from Saturday was a good example.

Evangelical Christians are not all of one mind on doctrinal and political questions. One sees this most clearly with the National Association of Evangelicals, which is split over the issue of global warming. The members who dismiss the issue are mostly fundamentalists and Biblical literalists, including Jerry Falwell who claims that global warming is "Satan's diversion."

Unlike many Christians, I reject the idea that the evangelical/fundamentalist confusion proves that journalists are biased against religion. Instead, I believe that journalists cannot address religious issues adequately simply by covering controversies. Those disputes inevitably bring out the self-appointed spokespersons who don't represent the majority of believers on the issues. Also, media outlets assign many religion stories to general assignment reporters, who may not understand the doctrinal nuances involved in these issues. Does the Post have reporters who are assigned full time to the religion beat? If not, would you favor such a policy?

Deborah Howell: Yes, The Post has three full-time religion writers and also subscribes to Religion News Service. I will be happy to relay your issues in an internal staff newsletter that I write every week. Please send me your name and where you live to ombudsman@washpost.com. I take a special interest in religion reporting and used to supervise RNS.

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Madison, Wisc.: Hi Deborah. I am a huge fan of your paper's online presence. These chats, along with the "comments" feature, have provided a remarkable level of interactivity between journalists and their audience. I know that there have been drawbacks for the journalists involved (hostile or critical comments, etc.), but have there been positives too? Have reader inquiries and comments informed and improved some of the reporting? Can you cite any examples?

Deborah Howell: I do not know if comments have informed any reporting. I wrote about comments last week in my Sunday column. People who post comments love them and they build loyalty to the Web site. But many readers dislike their rawness. I think they have to be monitored well.

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New York, N.Y.: Why does Post continue to carry columns by Robert Novak when his column has compromised national security? I am referring to his out of Valerie Plame.

Deborah Howell: Robert Novak is among many columnists that run on the op-ed pages. The op-ed editor is conscientious about trying to get a mix of opinion on all sides of important issues.

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Washington, D.C.: Ms. Howell. The Style section's coverage of D.C.-area art galleries and artists has been declining steadily for the last few years. It started under Eugene Robinson. When he became editor of Style, the section used to have a weekly column on Thursdays (Galleries) and another column on Thursdays (Arts Beat) that used to focus also on the visual arts.

Under Mr. Robinson Arts Beat was cut to twice a month, and expanded to cover nearly everything that looks and sounds like art, but little of the visual arts, arts news, etc. He also allowed the Post's art critic (Blake Glopnik) to get away with only reviewing museums and seldom (2-3 times since he has been employed by the Post) reviewing a DC gallery.

Under Ms. Heard, the Galleries column was cut to twice a week, and Mr. Glopnik curious focus on only museums continued.

This means that The Post now has one of the most minimal visual arts coverage in the US for a major paper. In 2007 so far, there have been 62 times more movie reviews, 22 times more fashion reviews, 44 times more theater reviews, 27 times more dance reviews than gallery reviews.

How can Style be made to understand that 20 gallery review columns a year is simply not enough! Why not hire a second freelancer and bring the Galleries column back to a weekly spot - like 99 percent of all American newspapers do?

What can we readers do to influence this process? Does Mr. Graham know that his newspaper is essentially ignoring D.C. area art galleries and artists?

Deborah Howell: I will be happy to convey your problems with art gallery coverage to the Style editors.

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Washington, D.C.: It seems the more investigations of the Bush administration that are coming to light, the less news the Post is willing to print. What gives? Is the Post scared of printing factual news about the Bush Administration?

Deborah Howell: The Post has three reporters covering the White House and many more who report on the administration. I've never seen or heard anything here that makes me believe The Post is scared of doing tough reporting on the administration.

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Fort Worth, Tex.: Do you feel that the value of stock and concentration on the bottom line is detrimental to the quality and the amount of REAL and useful news? Also, what is your opinion on the saturation of the news media by only one mega corporation?

Deborah Howell: This is a very complicated issue that I can't answer in a chat. A newspaper needs to be financially healthy to be able to devote good resources to news coverage.

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Atlanta: Ms. Howell, these chats get a little heated sometimes, often people are critical of reporters when in fact, they are criticizing the editorial page. Reporters are constantly explaining the difference between the two, the wall between the two, etc. My suggestion is to have Fred Hiatt do a chat, say once or twice a month. I think he needs to face the music on the balderdash he spouts instead of hiding behind the reporters and making them take the heat.

Deborah Howell: I'll be happy to tell him that!

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Washington, D.C.: Dear Ms. Howell: I just want to salute you for hanging in there not long ago when you faced such over-the-top hostile and unforgiving venom in light of a very minor mistake (if that) on your part. Your courage continues to show in your weekly columns. I don't always agree with your final assessments of the Post's decisions but I respect your tenacity in carrying on with what must be a pretty thankless job in many ways.

You do have support out here, even if your detractors may yell louder than others.

Deborah Howell: Thank you! I really appreciate that!

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Washington, D.C.: Ms. Howell, on 1/15/06 you wrote the following: "So far, Schmidt and Grimaldi say their reporting on the Abramoff investigations hasn't put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated.

"But stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."

My question for you how long we are supposed to stay tuned. It has been sixteen months, and -- apart from a bit player at the Interior Department who turns out to be a Democrat -- all I see is a raft of indictments and guilty pleas of Republicans.

At what point will you issue a retraction for the apparently baseless suggestion that Democrats were part of the Abramoff corruption schemes?

Deborah Howell: A correction to that appeared within a few days.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, My question is regarding the opinion/editorial sections of the newspaper. I think that these columns should be fact-checked before being published. I don't think that they should get a free pass on facts just because they are opinion pieces. Recently, The Post has been carrying articles that have been outright lies.

Deborah Howell: Fact checking is done by the columnists. Copy editors do a lot of checking, but it is not like fact checkers in the magazine world. If columnists make a mistake, those are usually corrected in their columns or on Page 2 if the columnists are in the news pages.

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Rockville, Md.: Can you please explain why the Post runs those odd vertical half pages in some sections? they look like mistakes and are very annoying. I'm sure some focus group said they were wonderful but what do actual readers say?

Deborah Howell: I am going to write a column about that -- maybe next week. Readers do find them annoying. They are a money-saving measure.

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San Francisco (formerly of D.C.): Put me down as against the comments feature. The vast majority are the types of diatribes and politically slanted jabs (usually from the left) that you write about. David Broder can't write an article, whatever the subject, without 50 people demanding he apologize for predicting Bush might see a poll bounce, which never occurred. It seems you're lucky to get one thoughtfully composed comment for every 10 postings (and those are the ones that actually make it through the profanity filter).

I guess I can just not read them, but they'll still be there, coarsening the debate.

Deborah Howell: You do have to click on the comments to read them, so you can ignore them.

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Melville, N.Y.: I was appalled that the Washington Post would publish op-ed pieces from Liz Cheney, the vice president's daughter, that read like Republican-party talking points. And then omitting from the short bio at the article's end her relation to the vice president. What do you think?

Deborah Howell: The Post publishes op-ed pieces from many points of view. The editorial page policy is to identify the writers by their work or what they have published. I don't think it was hiding anything not to say Liz Cheney was the vice-president's daughter.

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Washington, D.C.: Deborah: I appreciate that the Post has an ombudsman and that you have a hard job to do. As your questions today indicate, there are many worthy issues for you to cover.

So why waste your time and your readers time with the complete non-story that examined The Post's golf writers pool on The Masters tournament? Can any serious and impartial observer believe that this kind of friendly wagering actually influences coverage of the event?

Deborah Howell: I took a lot of criticism about that. But it was a reader's question that I thought was worth answering. I can't win 'em all.

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Re: Novak: A recent Rasmussen Poll found that 22 percent of Americans believe that the President had prior knowledge of 9/11 attacks. If The Post is so interested in giving space to all sides, maybe it should carry columns by conspiracy theorists. Clearly, The Post is not going to do this, right?

Deborah Howell: Right. I don't agree with you. I don't think The Post should feed conspiracies.

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Detroit: The Post has been carrying stories about different Presidential candidates. But they seem to be limited to the front-line ones: Clinton, Obama, Guiliani, McCain, Romney, Edwards and Thompson. What about the less known ones. For example, Mike Gravel has some very interesting ideas out there which the country should hear. And how about covering extensively Ron Paul, the anti-war Republican. In short, by deciding to cover some candidates and not others, is The Post not prejudging the election?

Deborah Howell: I get about 20-30 e-mails a day asking for coverage of Ron Paul. The news media, including The Post, usually does concentrate on the front-runners. I trust that they also will be doing stories on some of the other candidates.

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Arlington, Va.: Here's two useful ways the Post can rebuild its credibility. First, get rid of editorial race-baiters such as Eugene Robinson. What a mean, offensive writer! Second, at least TRY to balance a blatant partisan like Dan Froomkin. While he should have free-reign, he should also have a counterpart that expresses the White House perspective without a cloak of paranoia and breathless skepticism. Unless and until the Post addresses these glaring affronts to fairness, your little sessions here online will never do much good.

Deborah Howell: I disagree about Gene Robinson. I am a fan of his. I will tell the Web site editors about your comments on Froomkin.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi there. You have obviously had some challenges on this job. I won't waste your time or the reader's time on "fault" or blame, but it seems that the job of ombudsman has grown and mutated during your reign. How have you grown or changed during this stint, and what do you hope your legacy to be in this specific role when you leave it?

Deborah Howell: The job has grown a lot just in my year and a half here. I get many more questions about the Web site now that when I took the job in October 2006. I have no idea what my legacy will be, but I hope (for my entire career) that it is one of tough reporting, fairness to all and opening doors for readers to understand how important public decisions are made. And to help readers make their wishes known.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Ms. Howell,

Thank you for taking our questions.

I am a huge fan of the chats and some columnists, and would like to be a big fan of the letters to the editor, but unfortunately am not. Compared to the Letters section in the NY Times (sorry), the WP Letters are fewer, are much more likely to come from an organization with a vested interest, and frankly are not as interesting. They are not as interesting, in my view, because they do not as often offer new suggestions or new insights into how news events effect people. Letters from organizations are often mind-numbing. I also notice that there are always few letters to the editor about Iraq, regardless of the fact that the war in Iraq has created strong feelings on both sides.

Thank you.

Deborah Howell: I will be happy to pass on your comments to the letters editor. A new letters editor will be coming aboard this summer after a year on a fellowship.

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Washington, D.C.: In your column this past week you concluded, "When in doubt, take it out." Do you really believe that? Almost anything could be offensive to someone. Your Pollyanna approach oversimplifies complex issues.

Deborah Howell: I meant that comment to refer to blatantly sexist, racist or violent comments. I prefer to keep it more civil.

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Washington, D.C.:"The Post has three reporters covering the White House"

How many reporters did The Post assign to cover the White House during the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

Assuming that significantly more resources were devoted to covering that one scandal at the Clinton White House than are being devoted to covering the myriad (and more relevant) scandals of the Bush White House, what conclusions should readers draw from those resource allocation decisions?

Deborah Howell: I wasn't here during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but I was a daily reader. I don't think more reporters were assigned to that story than are assigned to cover the Bush administration. I have read The Post daily for 17 years, and I think they're tough on all administrations.

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Bangkok, Thailand: I read the Post's political chats almost every day. Readers complain regularly that the mainstream media is not covering this or that story, and then the reporter answering questions on the chat lists two or three recent Post stories, in effect saying, "Oh yes we are writing about that. You must have missed it."

I read Harold Meyerson's Enron's Enablers today with dispair. I don't want to read his short column about that court case. I want to read a 10-20 page New Yorker expose on it. I want to read that kind of in-depth reporting on a myriad of issues, scandals, etc. The Washington Post needs more reporters.

Deborah Howell: The Post has a lot of territory to cover. They do have investigative reporters who are constantly doing projects. And reporters on the different sections also do in-depth work.

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Woonsocket, R.I.: From your answers so far I suspect that you view your task here as holding the line against a rampaging mob.

I am a proud member of that mob; I frequently disagree with the Mr. Hiatt's editorial positions, and feel that too may reporters are far too comfortable repeating the party line rather than pushing for the truth (with a few notable exceptions). That said, The Post Web site gets far more of my attention and time than any other site. Why?

Comments and chat. The chance to give feedback and actually interact with journalists and newsmakers -- and to know that they are actually LISTENING -- is invaluable to me.

To be honest, that's why I'm a little disappointed in this chat in particular; your answers so far have fallen into two categories, either "I'll pass that on" or a non-detailed defense of a policy which amounts to nothing more than a pat on the head.

Deborah Howell: Well, this is my first chat, so I'm getting used to it. I have been critical of The Post in many columns and will continue to be. I can see how you might think I sound like I'm holding the line against a rampaging mob. I don't disagree with feedback, comments or live discussions. And I totally agree with you that pushing for the truth is always important.

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Westford, Mass.: Hi Deborah,

It looks like for a while the Post was reporting the growing economic story in India, and the attendant social changes. But in the last few months, all coverage about India seems to have died down. especially news that might impact jobs in the U.S., and the growing economic ties. Has The Post cut back on its coverage of India?

Deborah Howell: The Post has had two buy-outs of staff members in the last several years, so the staff is smaller. Foreign bureaus have been cut back somewhat, but there are still enormous resources devoted to covering foreign news. On India, in particular, there have been stories when there is important news.

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Alexandria, Va.: Ms. Howell,

The new "Raw Readers" section is the worst waste of newsprint I've seen in my life. The online comments are one thing -- sequestered behind a hotlink for anyone daring enough to wade into that cesspool of vituperative blather -- but to put angry, hateful, anonymous comments side-by-side with The Post's usually excellent reportage degrades the quality of the paper.

Deborah Howell: I have had one other complaint about this. There are really fans of this kind of "raw" comment. But I agree with you. I'm not a fan of a lot of it.

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Washington, D.C.: We want PROCESS PROCESS PROCESS from you, not opinion. Use your unique position to provide information about internal decision making, not what you think.

Deborah Howell: I try to pull back the curtains on Post decision making and how this place works. When I do that, I get criticized for not being critical enough -- or for not giving a strong opinion. I think this job holds both opportunities for constructive criticism -- and just good reporting to let you know how decisions are made and executed.

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Pasadena, Calif.: Are you a registered Republican? Your articles here seem to portray you as leaning to the right on many issues.

Deborah Howell: Nope. I'm registered as an independent. And I don't vote in primaries for that reason.

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Denver: Two weeks ago I watched the Bill Moyers PBS program on the media's role in the lead up to the Iraq war. I was very disturbed to learn about the Washington Post's role and the complicity of its writers. To be sure it is an indictment of the mass media. It makes me never want to read the WP again.

The reporting analysis done by the Moyers program is disturbing. I recently went to the corporate Web site for your company and read the principles that Eugene Meyer set forth for the paper and find that the WP reporting with respect to the build up to the invasion of Iraq in direct contradiction with those values.

How does the WP leadership reconcile their complicity and complacency in aiding and abetting this fiasco?

As a someone who was born and raised on the WP I a deeply ashamed of your conduct.

Deborah Howell: The run-up to the war happened long before my tenure here. My predecessor, Mike Getler, wrote about it extensively.

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Maryland: I am curious. Almost all of the questions so far deal with the Post's coverage of national stories. But this is also my hometown newspaper.

What share of the reader comments to you deal with local issues? And how much of your work focuses on local issues?

Thank you. I appreciate your work and look forward to your columns.

Deborah Howell: I tend to get more comment on national issues. But I follow up on almost every local complaint I get. The Post is a local paper! I would say local is less than a third of the complaints I receive.

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They are a money-saving measure. : You may want to point out that money-saving measures that annoy readers may end up being money-losing measures to The Post.

Deborah Howell: Can I quote you on that when I write a column about it? Send me your name and where you live to ombudsman@washpost.com.

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Washington, D.C.: When your term is up as Ombudsman, what do you do next?

If you are dependent on The Post or a similar employer for your next job, should readers conclude that your career depends on keeping The Post or similar publishers happy and, thus, that you have incentive to defend them whenever possible rather than stick up for the readers?

Deborah Howell: I have no idea what I'll do next. I'm 66 and I might just retire. No, there is no job at The Post after being ombudsman. That doesn't happen. There is no incentive to defend The Post in that regard. I defend Post editors when I think they deserve it.

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20008: This ran on Romenesko this week. Could you respond?

From the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, who reviewed the George Tenet memoir in Sunday's WP Book World:

Full disclosure: In discussions with Tenet as a reporter for this paper, I many times urged him to write his memoir, and, after he resigned from the CIA, I even spent a day with him and his co-writer, Bill Harlow, in late 2005 to suggest questions he should try to address. Foremost, I hoped that he would provide intimate portraits of the two presidents he had served as CIA director -- George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Instead, he has adhered to the rule of CIA directors: protect the president at all costs.

To recap: Woodward reviewed the book that he repeatedly advised the writer to write. Woodward reviewed the book even after he made extensive recommendations to the writers on what to include. (Judging from Woodward's description he was a full-fledged advisor to the co-writer.) And, of course, Woodward reviewed the book after the writer(s) failed to follow his advice. Naturally he half-pans it. (To entirely pan it might, I suppose, call into question his recommendation to write it.)

I know we're all supposed to be numb to Bob Woodward's ethical conflicts: When the 99th doesn't matter, why should the 100th? But this is an unquestionably clear example of where the disclosure of conflict of interest is not enough. Woodward should not have been allowed near this review.

Deborah Howell: Here is an answer to your query from Book World Editor Marie Arana. I just got it for another reader.

"They were not personal friends. That much was sure from my quizzing of Woodward before I assigned (and the North Wall approved) the review. But there had been, obviously, a lot of conversations between Woodward and Tenet. Those conversations were largely on the record and Tenet was, willingly, a source. I think Woodward made that abundantly clear in the review. The assignment was meant to add something to a great deal of exposure that transpired during the past week. If we were to cover the book, I thought, we would have to do something extra, and different. We chose to offer the opinion of someone eminently qualified to judge the extent and veracity of Tenet's newly offered information. There was no one better suited to this task than Bob Woodward."

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Rockville, Md.:" balderdash ?"

This is what is wrong with our comments. Until someone can prove that they are right about every issue all of the time, they should just say "I do not agree." Our problem is that we think everyone who does not agree with us are wrong, mad or lying. Just imagine this: they might be right.

Then we will have some civil discussion.

Deborah Howell: That's so right. That's why the op-ed pages runs different opinions. We all can stand some enlightenment.

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Washington, D.C.: What is the policy of the newspaper with regard to use of hate language within the context of a discussion of hate crimes laws. For example, an analysis that displays words which are associated with hate crimes and their frequency of use in motion pictures that have won academy awards in the past 20 years -- can the newspaper print digitally or in ink the words?

Deborah Howell: Hate language would not be allowed in comments. If you see something you think is hateful, request its removal. There's a "request for removal" on every comment.

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Washington, D.C.: Can you provide your point of view on the recent Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray story that stated there was an agreement by Democrats to concede to the President, even though no such agreement was made. A correction was subsequently made, and Mr. Weisman commented at another Web site that he thought the correction may have been unnecessary and continues to stand by the story.

What are your thoughts?

Also, what can be done to make corrections more prominent, especially errors that occur on A1?

Deborah Howell: I will write about this Sunday.

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RE: Froomkin: It is a journalist's JOB to be skeptical and question those they are covering(trust but verify). He is one of the few reasons I ever read your paper. Please pass this along to the editors as well.

Deborah Howell: Will do. Being skeptical is a most important quality in a reporter. Maybe the No. 1.

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Arlington, Va.: I've never understood how Howard Kurtz is the Post media reporter but he's also allowed to work for CNN. Doesn't this make everything he writes about TV news suspect? I think they call it "conflict of interest."

Deborah Howell: In my time here, I've never seen Kurtz pull any punches with CNN _ or The Post. He writes about The Post frequently as well.

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Anonymous: what's the North Wall?

Deborah Howell: The North Wall is a bank of offices. That's where the top editors sit.

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Hollywood, Calif.: What qualified you to become ombudsman for the Washington Post? How do you define what an ombudsman is, and how do you think readers view an ombudsman? And, technically, aren't you an ombudswoman? Ombudsperson?

On a side note, I'd just like to say I disagree with comments here saying your opinion isn't valued or part of your job. That's unfair, as part of your job is dependent upon your opinion.

Deborah Howell: I've been in the business all my life. My dad was a newsman, and I grew up chasing fires. I've been a reporter, copy editor, city editor, managing editor and executive editor. An ombudsman is both a reader representative and advocate and also a person to whom readers can come for answers and information. The word, I've been told, is gender free.

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Baltimore: Could you please get someone to label Michelle Singletary's supposed "financial advice" as Christian? It's far more appropriate to call her a "Christian Personal Finance Columnist" than a "Personal Finance Columnist" -- since much of her advice is based on her own morals and Biblical beliefs, not sound financial advice.

Deborah Howell: Singletary's religious beliefs are important and central to her writing, but her advice isn't meant just for Christians. It's just good advice. I would not label her. I've had few complaints that her advice isn't sound.

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Richmond, Va.: I wrote a letter to the editor about the Virginia Tech coverage. I was appalled that The Washington Post splashed the killer's images so prominently on the Web site. They used a bit more discretion in the print edition. They didn't run my letter or any letters criticizing the coverage. Was I the only one? I find it hard to believe there wasn't more outrage.

Deborah Howell: I did get quite a few letters on that _ but I've gotten a whole lot more letters asking for coverage of Ron Paul. Web site editors thought it was news worthy. The video was very short and not overly displayed. The sight of the killer's face was shocking, but so was the crime.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Hi Deborah -- I don't think it's taking anyone to school to suggest that The Post has a distinctively "leftward" slant. Does this ever disturb you, and do you have any power to make the paper more fair?

Deborah Howell: I have written a column on journalists and their political beliefs. It's on the Web site. I do think there are a lot of reporters who have a liberal bent. But many are moderate, some are conservative. I don't have any "power," except that of persuasion.

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Arlington, Va.: I totally disagree about Dan Froomkin - keep him on! I have no doubt that he would be just as skeptical of a Democratic administration. The last thing the paper needs is an unfiltered mouthpiece of the current administration, Democratic or Republican - that is the President's Press Secretary's job! Please.

Froomkin's analysis is refreshing and a welcome change from much reporting, and I'd gladly read and think about his criticisms, whichever party is in the White House.

Please pass along my praise of Froomkin as well - he's one of the best parts of the washingtonpost.com site!

Deborah Howell: I like the way you think. I want to read people I disagree with. I think that too many folks think the only way to think is the way they think.

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Washington, D.C.: Would it be possible to put the words "tough," "czar," and "interesting" on a list of terms to avoid using as all-purpose space fillers? They show up in all sorts of useless descriptions in The Post.

Deborah Howell: Not a bad idea...

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Washington, D.C.: Try to step back and consider the current system of foreign reporting: If you live in Los Angeles and read the LA Times, you learn about, say, Zimbabwe, from the Times reporter whom the paper sends there. If you live in DC, you learn about it from the Washington Post reporter. And so on with the dozens or hundreds of good papers across the country and the world. Isn't this a rather absurd system?

Obviously papers need different people covering City Hall, since I'm not interested in local LA politics. And naturally LA will have stronger coverage of entertainment, while I want to read the Federal page. But for so many stories - national stories like Katrina, national business news, foreign affairs, and science, to mention a few - there is no reason why the coverage should be linked to the location the newspaper is printed in.

Given this, and given the financial pressures, wouldn't it make sense for the Post to start using copy from other high quality newspapers (LA Times for coverage of Hollywood, Le Monde for coverage of France, Le Pais for coverage of Spain, and so on), with editing as needed for local audiences? You've already starting a little of that with the use of international business coverage from the Wall Street Journal.

Deborah Howell: I've gotten that suggestion before. Then you have to use translations, and that can be tricky. But it's not a bad idea and often foreign reporters do write about what the local press is saying in the countries they cover.

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Deborah Howell: Thanks for the chat! I learned a lot and will do it again. I'm getting ready to have lunch with the new public editor at the New York Times!

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