It may be hard to believe that, despite the hefty bundles of newsprint dropped by Post carriers at your doorstep these days, some things are missing. But if you had been working at the newspaper Sunday, you would have been told in no uncertain terms that the weekly summaries of television's "soaps" were missing.
By Monday, the number of complainants had declined, but their unhappiness was not diminished. Never mind that occasionally the summaries prove inaccurate and "As the World Turns" or "The Young and the Restless" turn out differently from the written synopses.
"Why didn't you run the summaries on Monday?" protested one caller. And on Tuesday, the protest was, "If you missed it on Sunday, why not run them on Monday or on Tuesday?" Today I expect I will be asked, "Why not on Wednesday?"
Mary Hadar, assistant managing editor for Style, said the weekly column, which usually runs inside the Sunday Style section, was left out this time for space reasons. A decision was made that since the items referred to events occurring last week, it would be too late to catch up on Monday or Tuesday. That may sound okay to an editor, but not to a daytime television devotee.
But Mrs. Hadar reassured, "It will be in next Sunday. This was not a policy decision to stop a feature."
Last week there were dozens of phone calls and letters protesting another missing feature -- a comic strip, "Mother Goose & Grimm" by cartoonist Mike Peters. He obviously has a strong and faithful following, and the only way to satisfy some would be to restore the strip.
This time it was a policy decision, although I have had some difficulty in identifying just whose it was. "Mother Goose & Grimm" was dropped in favor of a new strip. Readers were offended by the lack of announcement.
Wouldn't it have been nice if the newspaper had acknowledged the change? Wouldn't it have been considerate if the newspaper had notified readers that the soap opera column will be resumed this Sunday?
I have a few other suggestions for helping readers deal with missing items. Last Friday, there was a story in the front news section about Assistant Educuation Secretary Anne Graham and her problems in achieving confirmation to the Consumer Product Safety Commission because of allegations that she had used her government car for personal business and hired friends as consultants. But missing was any mention of the nomination of Terrence M. Scanlon as chairman of the same commission, also held up pending a General Accounting Office investigation of allegations that he had used staff and other government resources to perform work for the anti-abortion movement.
Yesterday, there was an item in the Federal Report page on Mr. Scanlon, but this time there was no mention of Anne Graham, and neither the longer report Friday nor the brief one yesterday dealt with questions left by an earlier Post story on CPSC Commissioner Stuart Statler. Last month, he was attacked by Rep. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) for issuing a "personal press release in the guise of a 'fact sheet' safety risks of the motorized three- wheel all-terrain vehicles. The congressman called for a Justice Department inquiry into Mr. Statler's impartiality and fairness.
Like Anne Graham and Terrence Scanlon, Mr. Statler denied the charges and attacked the congressman. Missing was a report on whether the Justice Department turned down or will act on the congressman's request. Wouldn't it be better if readers were given all the pieces at once? Doesn't the paper have a duty to conclude issues it has raised?
Post coverage of consumer agencies has been declining. Editors may feel there is a lack of interest, but it may be another chicken-and-egg dilemma. If The Post did a better job of covering these things, would there be more consumer interest? At present, such coverage is divided among The Post's National, Metro and Financial desks, and I suspect often falls between.
Last summer I noted in this column the quiet disappearance of The Post's weekly consumer column after a 21/2- year run. At the time I was told no decision had been made on its resumption. It begins to look like no decision is really no column. Readers, reporters and editors are the losers, because regardless of our roles, we are all consumers.