While the National Organization for Women's 1987 Conference, held July 17-19 in Philadelphia, made the front page of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, The Washington Post had one article on its back page. The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer featured NOW in several articles throughout the weekend of the conference; The Post had one article. Those D.C.-area NOW members unable to be in Philadelphia had hoped to read about conference events. Instead, they were forced to look to other sources for conference news -- sources like the Wichita Kansas Eagle and the Gastonia, N.C., Gazette.
If the conference itself wasn't "news" to The Post, one would have thought that possible presidential-hopeful Patricia Schroeder's speech before conference delegates would have been. Or one would have thought Post readers might be interested in the fact that NOW members pledged over $350,000 to Schroeder's presidential campaign, enough to qualify her for federal matching funds. Yet, there was not one word of this event in one of the nation's most prominent newspapers.
Where was The Post? When asked that question, national desk staffers explained that several articles about the conference had been planned, but that there were "mishaps." They further explained that profiles of the new NOW officers would appear at some future date in the Style section. Not exactly the front-page coverage papers such as The New York Times saw fit to give NOW. Then, in the July 26 ombudsman's column, Joseph Laitin, depicting NOW members as "scorned feminists" with screeching voices, gave them a cursory and rather left-handed apology for The Post's mismanagement of the story.
Feeble excuses and weak apologies just aren't good enough. The 1987 NOW conference is over, and there is nothing that now can be done to rectify the situation we have detailed. But we want The Post to know that in the future it cannot ignore women's issues or relegate them to the "women's section." NOW plays a leading role in national policy-making. The Post must take note of this position and give NOW the national coverage it deserves. -- Melinda L. Moseley The writer is president of D.C. NOW.