Post Critique: Steve Reiss

Before we begin, we note some interesting comments at the end of today’s Post critique:

    Terri Rupar: FishbowlDC writes, “By popular demand, we’ll start publishing each Washington Post internal critique.” I guess we really have to stop calling them “internal critiques” now.

    Peter Perl: Can someone enlight us as to how MediaBistro can promise access to our “internal critique?” And is there no way to prevent this??

    Jacqueline Dupree: How is mediabistro getting the critiques? Talk to your co-workers, because someone’s clearly copying it from The Source and e-mailing it. The list of possible culprits could include anyone from the entire Northwest building, as well as WPNI, all of which have access to The Source.

    Carol Hutchinson: The person who is doing it is not likely to admit it. He/she could be signing on from home and using private e-mail.

    Howard Schneider: Maybe we need a leak investigation? Or just adapt to the role of observed observer and write for the broader audience…

A paper that makes its name, in part, by publishing stories based on leaks is upset when they’re the ones doing the leaking?

Before you end up like the other papers that cancel such valuable forums due to leaks, let us remind you that your efforts to improve and critique the paper aren’t damaged when your community has an insight into the process.

Now for today’s from Deputy AME, Style, when you click below…


On this boiling hot day, here’s a thought to chill your blood: Redskins owner Dan Snyder, quoted in a Sports story about his new radio stations, says, “If The Washington Post were for sale, I’d buy it right now.” Yikes!

And to restore your circulation back to its normal temperature, there’s the lede of Susan Levine’s Metro story about a woman who goes into surgery and catches fire on the operating table. Double yikes!

Unfortunately, the layout didn’t help that story much. The narrow hed didn’t give much room for communicating its weird and tragic nature. I started to read it almost out of a sense of duty. Thank goodness for that lede. And then there’s this line halfway through: “The hospital denied culpability.” Oh, of course — it must have been the fault of the sedated patient.

Metro’s story on the leading contender for the chief planning job in
Montgomery County didn’t quite deliver on an implicit promise. The lede tells me Royce Hanson is “blunt-talking.” Halfway through the piece, we learn that he “issued a blistering critique.” What’s the payoff for this build-up? A seven-word partial quote about “a sustained lack of institutional and intellectual leadership.”

A hot summer day isn’t a good time for a long critique, so I’ll close with a few questions:

  • Is the flag of India so easily recognized that the Business centerpiece worked?
  • What’s the point of the “You and A” poster over the Q & A on HPV vaccine in Health? I assume that a service piece is intended to be for “me,” aka the reader.
  • Not in today’s paper, but I’m still curious: Will the magazine’s dating service be pairing gay couples? And perhaps I’m misreading it, but why don’t we tell these couples why they’ve been paired together?

    Phyllis Jordan: People often make much on this critique about how harried and busy they are, but today, I really am. I completely forgot about my critique until I was reminded at 12:25, so here is a very quick, unstudied view of today’s paper.

  • Front Page: The art really struck me today and was much more surprising than the accompanying stories. That little boy, amid a sea of people escaping Lebanon, drew me right in and literally gave a human face to what’s going on over there. The weather photo was really striking, too, and brought a little fun to an otherwise, somber front page. Not a single white guy featured in photos, unless
    you count Mickey Spillane in the key box and he’s dead.

    The best story on the page was the farm aid piece, a really fine piece of accountability reporting which both appalled and astounded me. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s installment.

  • Metro: Metro was really interesting today. The island story was very even-handed: who’s right, the boaters who want to use their favorite beach or the property owner putting up the fence? And the woman who caught fire on the operating table? Who knew that could
    happen?

    The news that police had the robbery suspects address well before the slaying in Georgetown (why not A1?) was truly disturbing and Marc Fisher’s column was a good companion.

  • Style: Loved Peter Baker’s piece on Bush’s open mike.

  • Health: Despite having two skinny kids, I nonetheless enjoyed the fat kid story. And the HPV vaccine Q&A was interesting. That’s a fascinating bit of science that needs some explaining.

    Cameron W. Barr: Where Steve Reiss detects a failure to deliver, I see the sort of choice-tidbit brevity that editors increasingly (and, for the most part, rightly) demand. Here’s the full-graf replay of my MoCo colleagues backing up their description
    of Royce Hanson as blunt-talking:
    — Hanson is well known to the council, having issued a blistering critique of the planning department in January that outlined systematic problems that he said stemmed from a “sustained lack of institutional and intellectual leadership.”

    In plain English, that’s Hanson saying the MoCo planning bureaucracy is run by dummies — and that’s pretty blunt.

    Michael Tunison: No worries, I have a feeling you could swap just about anything for TWP in that Snyder quote: “If ______ were for sale, I’d buy it right now.” The Brandenburg Gate / The frozen head of Ted Williams / Your soul / The
    Supreme Court / The complete works of William Blake / a death ray
    Try it, it’s fun! (If Snyder does buy the paper, I’m so getting traded to the Jets)

    Adam Bernstein: Yeah, Spillane was dead. The kind of dead you don’t wake up from.

    Jason Ukman: I know it’s less than kosher to comment on stories in one’s own section, but I hope all due attention is given to the Ellen’s Iraq story on A1 and Josh’s Baghdad story deeper in the A section. Both are outstanding pieces of reportage, and both make you wonder why — even in this time of spiraling violence
    elsewhere — more people aren’t mustering the interest or expressing more shock at what’s going on.