For answers to some of the more frequent queries about the Sports section, I turned to the assistant managing editor who has led that section since 1975: George Solomon. He oversees a full-time staff of 53 that includes 22 reporters and three columnists. They cover not only professional sports but also college and high school sports throughout the metropolitan area (though, some readers complain, certain schools seem to garner a disproportionate share of The Post's attention). In addition to games, however, the staff pursues investigative projects -- and tries to run ahead of the pack in breaking news.
Q: During your time at the helm, what has been the most significant change in the way sports are covered?
Solomon: The biggest change is the amount of information people who know sports have available to them from other media outlets -- television, radio, online. Our responsibility is to go even further behind the scenes and write even better than we've had to before.
Q: Does that mean that you are less interested in what some readers say they want: the play-by-play, run-by-run, point-by-point style of reporting?
A: Correct. It's incumbent upon us to provide analysis, as well as the issues in sports. Our sports reporters are asked to not only know sports but to also understand labor, to understand business, to understand sociology.
Q: I hear from readers who are upset that late scores are missing from the editions of the paper that they receive.
A: With the closing of the downtown printing plant, the distribution process changed dramatically in terms of who gets which edition. It depends on the distribution and your distributor. It's the luck of the draw.
Q: But what about running the missing box scores on the second day after a game?
A: We can only recycle our box scores for as many editions as they missed the previous night. [The problem arises, Solomon said, when a reader receives an earlier edition one day but a later edition the next; the later edition would not have box scores that were missing from the previous day's early editions. The production and circulation departments are trying to smooth out the kinks in the system.] Now, in the best of all possible worlds, any box scores that didn't appear in the first edition should maybe go through all editions the next day. But there is a space limitation there. I know that is irritating to many people. But hopefully they are able to cope; and we also have washingtonpost.com online, where space is not a factor.
Q: With this being a Redskins town, how do you avoid the sports pages' becoming a cheerleading section for the home team?
Q: Well, I think the town has become much more open to and interested in lots of other things. The Redskins -- and the NFL [National Football League] -- have double the interest, according to our surveys, of any other sport. However, we do more on soccer than we've done before. It's an emerging sport. We feel this is a good college and pro basketball town. Hockey has generated some interest.
Q: Parents among the readers have certainly noticed the reporting on high school sports.
A: We chose to expand our high school coverage a year ago to where we generally have a page a day on high school and two on game nights. We feel that there is a tremendous amount of interest in high school sports, and it's a way to get young people into the paper. If young people are interested when we write about them, they might become readers of The Washington Post and newspapers in general.
The ombudsman's conversation with George Solomon will continue next week. In the meantime, you may reach me at email@example.com or (202) 334-7582.