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Preview: - Andrew Alexander - Ombudsman - Andrew Alexander - Ombudsman


Can The Post regain its legacy of excellence?

Fri, 21 Jan 2011 20:12:00 EST

My fourth-floor office looks out over the main entrance to The Post. I often glance across 15th Street and see tourists taking photos of the newspaper's iconic nameplate. For so many, The Post has a reputation for journalistic excellence. Will it endure?

Giffords shooting highlights a digital news danger

Fri, 14 Jan 2011 19:22:00 EST

In the digital age, speed can be the enemy of accuracy when a big news story breaks. The Post and other news organizations were reminded of that last weekend while rushing to report the shootings just outside Tucson.

The debate over immigration language

Fri, 07 Jan 2011 18:41:00 EST

Read the online comments accompanying any story on immigration and you get a taste of the impassioned public debate over what to do about those who may be unlawfully in the country unlawfully. For news organizations, there's a secondary discussion heating up over what to call them.

Readers fume over latest Post errors

Fri, 31 Dec 2010 17:00:00 EST

The holiday season is supposed to be a time of happiness, but there has been little cheer from readers upset about a chronic Post problem: a lack of quality control.

Post's problems with anonymous-source rules get worse online

Fri, 17 Dec 2010 20:48:01 EST

Post readers constantly complain about the excessive use of anonymous sources in the newspaper. But the problem is even worse online.

The Post's bid for the weather audience

Fri, 10 Dec 2010 21:42:00 EST

Most weather forecasts offer an air-quality index. But a "Hair Quality" index to tell you if winds will tousle your tresses? Or a "Golf Comfort" meter for those heading to the fairways? Or an alert when weather changes might trigger a stink-bug invasion?

Post should give more background information on non-staff stories

Fri, 03 Dec 2010 18:07:01 EST

Hard-hitting stories in The Post typically generate strong reader reaction. But the response to one last Monday ["Obama administration gives billions in stimulus money without environmental safeguards"] focused less on the content and more on who provided it.

Media Files:

Post stories that just don't add up

Fri, 26 Nov 2010 17:49:00 EST

A recent Post story said that of the $1.3 million the D.C. Salvation Army collected during its annual Red Kettle fundraising drive last year, about $667,000 came from outside local Giant supermarkets.

Post needs to beef up its coverage of allegations against Kaplan

Fri, 19 Nov 2010 20:49:01 EST

Reader scrutiny is elevated when Post coverage affects The Post itself.

Media Files:

As online journalism evolves, Post needs to share its standards

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 20:07:01 EST

As online journalism evolves, Post needs to share its standards.

Media Files:

Post needs to get over fear of crowd estimates

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 19:44:00 EDT

"As I look out here today, I can see we have over 10 million people," Jon Stewart joked to the crowd on the Mall at last weekend's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear."

Post strays from stylebook in use of labels

Fri, 29 Oct 2010 20:36:01 EDT

The headline read: " Ex-Marine convicted in abduction, rape ." The first paragraph said: "A former U.S. Marine was convicted Friday of abducting and raping a University of Maryland graduate student whom he then left for dead in a secluded, wooded area on a cold February morning."

Post's Amazon links in stories raise ethical questions

Sun, 24 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

When you're reading a Post review online, click on a highlighted book title and you'll likely be directed to, where you can purchase it instantly. It's convenient for readers. But is it costly to credibility?

Suburbs feel left out of revamped local coverage

Sun, 17 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Nearly a decade ago, during a planning retreat at a posh coastal hotel in Florida, Post newsroom leaders heard an upbeat assessment of the paper's expanding local coverage. Jo-Ann Armao, then the top editor for local news, described an "extraordinary transformation" of the Metro desk into a...

Where was the 'Where's Muhammad?' cartoon?

Sun, 10 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

"Non Sequitur" is a popular comic that runs daily in about 800 newspapers, including this one. But the "Non Sequitur" cartoon that appeared in last Sunday's Post was not the one creator Wiley Miller drew for that day.

When journalists get paid to speak

Sun, 03 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The Post has stringent newsroom policies governing paid speeches by its journalists. Honoraria or expense reimbursement may be accepted only if there is no reasonable suggestion that the money would influence Post coverage. Supervisors must approve speaking invitations.

Post shortchanges Montgomery and Prince George's readers on election coverage

Sun, 12 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

If you care about Tuesday's primary elections in the District, you've benefited from The Post's wall-to-wall coverage of the fascinating race for mayor and contests for D.C. Council.

The toll of Mike Wise's false tweet on Ben Roethlisberger

Sun, 05 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Last week, Post sportswriter and columnist Mike Wise was suspended for a month after he jokingly fabricated a news scoop and published it to his Twitter account. Did the punishment fit the crime?

As errors grow, so does a credibility gap

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

A single major error can damage a news organization. But incessant lesser ones can be more harmful. Like a cancer, they gradually destroy credibility and eventually sever the organization's bond of trust with its audience.

From Kaplan to Buffett, Post gets it right on transparency

Sun, 22 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Concerns that The Post is concealing its self-interest are unfounded.

Brawl on the Metro: Where was the coverage?

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Post managers, from the top down, regularly remind the newsroom that coverage must have a "for and about Washington" focus. So when a large brawl broke out in the Metro system on a recent Friday night, it seemed a perfect chance to show local readers that The Post is their indispensable source for...

Post grapples with how to 'unpublish' and correct the record

Sun, 08 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Nearly 23 years ago, The Post's Metro section reported that Joseph P. Unice, a chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service, had been charged with indecent exposure at a Woodbridge McDonald's. But The Post never reported what happened next.

Post revamping Sunday paper to boost hope for profit

Sun, 01 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Every few years, The Post takes another stab at slowing the erosion of Sunday circulation. But the latest attempt, quietly gaining steam in recent months, has assumed special urgency. Whether it succeeds will have a major impact on Post efforts to return to profitability. And for readers, that will...

Was Post's 'Top Secret America' series a threat to lives and security?

Sun, 25 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

It's normal for readers to react after The Post runs a big story. But many weighed in before last week's publication of "Top Secret America," the three-part series detailing the enormous national security buildup since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks . After word spread through government...

Why the silence from The Post on Black Panther Party story?

Sun, 18 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Thursday's Post reported about a growing controversy over the Justice Department's decision to scale down a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party . The story succinctly summarized the issues but left many readers with a question: What took you so long?

Making the online customer king at The Post

Sun, 11 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

In a past era, there was little need to share marketing information with The Post's newsroom. Profits were high. Circulation was robust. Editors decided what they thought readers needed, not necessarily what they wanted.

Post policies fuel reader confusion on when writers can offer opinion

Sun, 04 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Confusion on when writers can offer their views.

How much Salahi news is too much?

Sun, 27 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The Salahis. Had enough? Anne Martin of McLean has. She's one of many readers who complained recently after The Post offered still more coverage of Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the White House dinner crashers who have become famous for trying to become famous.

Too hard to reach, too slow to fix

Sun, 20 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Readers who can't relay a news tip will go elsewhere.

For The Post, anonymous sources remain a problem

Sun, 13 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Too often it seems The Post grants anonymity at the drop of a hat.

When public interest, private anguish clash in war

Sun, 06 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The period around Memorial Day is especially difficult for those whose loved ones have died in combat. For Larry Mace of Winchester, grief has been accompanied by lingering anger at The Post.

Post failed to cover protests at bank executives' Chevy Chase homes

Sun, 30 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

How did The Post miss 700 protesters on a Chevy Chase lawn?

In Shales review of PBS program, questions about The Post and gender bias

Sun, 23 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Post TV critic Tom Shales can be cutting, and he didn't spare the knife in his recent review of the new PBS public affairs program "Need to Know ." Declaring it a "monstrosity" and a "specious wheeze," he then turned on "semi-competent anchors" Jon Meacham and Alison Stewart for their "fawning,...

The Post will survive the recession and the Web

Sun, 16 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Recently released figures showing a sharp drop in Post circulation have prompted two predictable reader responses: angst and glee.

Post omits sexual orientation in coverage of Brian Betts case

Sun, 09 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

If you've been following the murder of D.C. middle school principal Brian Betts through various local media, you know that he was gay. But if you've been tracking the case only in the news pages of The Post, you're reading that fact for the first time right now.

Did a Post photographer cross a line to get a picture of John Hinckley?

Sun, 02 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Several days before publishing last Monday's front-page story on prospects for releasing John W. Hinckley Jr. from a mental institution , The Post sought to capture an up-to-date photo of the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981. The assignment fell to veteran Post photographer Gerald...

Damaging gaps in a mine story

Sun, 25 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The lead story in last Sunday's Post offered a revealing look at ties between the coal mining industry and federal officials who regulate it . The Post reported that more than 200 former congressional staffers, lawmakers and federal regulators have become coal lobbyists, consultants or top...

Four more Pulitzers -- but does it matter?

Sun, 18 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

It didn't take long for cynics to weigh in after Monday's announcement that The Post had won four Pulitzer Prizes .

Allegations of spitting and slurs at Capitol protest merit more reporting

Sun, 11 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Allegations of spitting and slurs at a Capitol protest warrants more coverage.

Online readers need a chance to comment, but not to abuse

Sun, 04 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Anonymous online commenting has always been rowdy and raucous, especially when public figures are the targets.

Newsroom diversity: Falling short could be fatal

Sun, 28 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Two years ago, The Post's top editors were warned in a memo that they needed to expand newsroom diversity "or suffer the consequences."

Did The Post 'celebrate' gay marriage in D.C.?

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Accusations The Post abandoned neutrality covering gay marriage.

Post readers deserve a better online gateway to government data

Sun, 14 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EST

In the struggle for access to public information, The Post has always fought hard for its readers. Through jawboning with government agencies or taking them to court, the newspaper has a well-deserved reputation for successfully battling to disclose documents.

Behind the Rahm Emanuel 'conspiracy'

Sun, 07 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EST

Readers sometimes suspect Post journalists of conspiring to boost or bash the reputations of people in public life. In reality, any large newsroom is so chaotic that there are days when you wonder if editors and reporters could organize a one-car caravan.

How to be a man, or woman, of letters

Sun, 21 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

How to increase your chances of getting published in The Post.

Historic snows highlight Post's circulation, coverage challenges

Sun, 14 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

The historic storms required Herculean efforts to serve readers.

After a blog rewrite, a call for online transparency

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

Many staffers have lacked clear guidance on how to revise online content.

Chris Whitney-Charlotta Glass 'On Love' feature had complications and critics

Sun, 31 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

The road to matrimony can be rocky, and it certainly was for Chris Whitney and his new bride.

Horrible images of death in Haiti

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

The Post's decision to publish images from Haiti is an attempt to convey reality through the visuals.

Why you're seeing more copy-editing errors in The Post

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

When it comes to typos and syntax, retired English teachers and armchair grammarians delight in playing "Gotcha!" with The Post. They are regular (and often good-natured) correspondents, pointing out everything from misplaced modifiers to homonym errors.

A controversial Post partnership with the Fiscal Times

Sun, 10 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

Since the new year, The Post's integrity has come under withering assault from those claiming it took special-interest "propaganda" and passed it off as a news story. That's false, but The Post is paying the price for a glaring lack of transparency with its readers.

Post looks to enhance appeal to online, print readers

Sun, 03 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

Last year was one of the most tumultuous in The Post's 132-year history. The staff was depleted by more early-retirement buyouts. There was upheaval in the newsroom, which was organizationally and physically restructured. Print and online operations, hitherto separate, were integrated. The newspaper...

A spotty record on counter-errorism

Sun, 20 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

The Post received a journalism award last week, but it won't be displayed alongside its Pulitzer prizes. The paper was given the 2009 "Correction of the Year" award by Regret the Error , a Web site that tracks media mistakes and mea culpas.

Are The Washington Post's foreign bureaus next to get cut?

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

The Post recently announced plans to close its remaining domestic bureaus in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Are the foreign bureaus next?

Ombudsman: A poky corrections policy

Sun, 06 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

The Post's internal policies say that when readers point out mistakes, the response should be "prompt." But too often, reporters and editors move at a snail's pace to correct errors.

Ombudsman: It's hard for online readers to find Post people

Sun, 29 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

You're reading The Post online, something strikes you as interesting, and you'd like to offer some feedback to a top editor. So you start searching for a name, an e-mail address, a phone number . . . anything.

Andrew Alexander: The trials, triumphs of a food critic

Sun, 22 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

In a typical week, the Post's food critic spends 40 hours eating.

Undisclosed conflict in a review of Jon Krakauer's book on Pat Tillman

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

A review in a major publication such as The Post can influence whether a new book sinks or soars. So when Post book editors assign a review, they look for writers who are knowledgeable and unbiased.

Still falling short on anonymous sources

Sun, 08 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

The Post needs to explain why anonymous sources should be believed.

Conflict of interest challenges dog Post

Sun, 01 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Examining Post writers who have a potential conflict of interest.

Ombudsman Andrew Alexander on the response to the Post's redesign

Sun, 25 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Readers lament the paper's new look.

Is KidsPost's Birthdays Feature an Opening for Predatory Pedophiles?

Sun, 11 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Once a week, the KidsPost page carries a dozen or more photos of area children with their names, birthdays and hometowns. To the youngsters and their parents, it's exciting to be featured in a newspaper read by friends, relatives and hundreds of thousands of others.

Do Ethics Guidelines Threaten Freewheeling Social Media?

Sun, 04 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

A newspaper typically gets applause when it tightens its ethics policies. But there were some loud boos when The Post recently implemented newsroom guidelines governing the use of social media.

Earlier Post Deadlines Cut Sports Results

Sun, 27 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The health-care debate is raging. The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. There's fresh concern about domestic terrorism.

A Slow Start to Covering Conservative Issues

Sun, 20 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The Post should pay attention to conservative media.

What's Burgundy and Gold and Read All Over?

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Why the Post has published as many stories on the team as it has on health-care reform.

Profile on Anti-Gay-Marriage Activist Provokes Wrath

Sun, 06 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The Post recently featured a story by reporter Monica Hesse that ran on the front of the Style section while she was on vacation. The day before returning, she logged on to check e-mails -- and wept.

Readers Fault Post Coverage of Health-Care Debate

Sun, 30 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Readers want health-care primers, not prognostications.

Online Spat Provokes Questions on What to Publish

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT

A job loss, a wife's angry comments and a journalistic question for The Post.

Post Often Ignores Its Own Rules on Anonymous Sources

Sun, 16 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Reporters admit to not following internal anonymous source guidelines.

'Mouthpiece Theater' Ends With Apologies

Sun, 09 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT

There were apologies instead of applause when the lights dimmed on "Mouthpiece Theater" last week. The experimental satirical video series, featuring Post staffers Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza, ended its 16-episode run amid controversy and regret.

Obit Readership Is Increasing

Sun, 02 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Did you catch the news about the golfer who died of a stroke? How about the librarian who checked out? Or the math teacher whose number was up?

When to See Through Polls

Sun, 26 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Post reporters are being asked to probe deeper and be wary of new techniques.

The Post Weighs Rethinking and Updating Its Ethics Rules

Sun, 19 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Style section copy editors recently received an e-mail from a supervisor asking for ideas on when The Post should provide clickable links within online stories to retail Web sites.

The Stumbles That Led to an Ethics Blunder

Sun, 12 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The Washington Post's ill-fated plan to sell sponsorships of off-the-record "salons" was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions.

Declining Editing Staff Leads to Rise in Errors

Sun, 05 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Small mistakes take a huge toll on credibility.

Rhee's Silent Treatment

Sun, 21 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The head of the District's public schools snubs the Post's education reporter.

Post Staff Fear Loss of Quality in Paper's Transition

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Post journalists agree that quality will suffer as the newspaper falls on harder times.

Why The Post Published 'Murder on Swann Street' Web-Only

Sun, 07 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Why The Post decided to publish a crime narrative online only.

Difficult Decisions Over What Not to Disclose

Sun, 31 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Stakes are high when the government asks The Post to kill a story.

A White House Spokesman's 'Urban Myth'

Sun, 24 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Dana Milbank and Ari Fleischer square off over an out-of-context quote.

The Post Whittles Down Its Corrections Backlog

Sun, 26 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The Post doesn't deserve congratulations, but it is starting to address its mistakes.

'Judge Parker' Wins His Case In the Court of Reader Opinion

Sun, 19 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

More than 750 calls, e-mails, and letters were heard. The comic strip is back.

O! Why the Orioles Are Less Seen in The Post

Sun, 12 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The Post owes readers an explanation for decreased Baltimore baseball coverage.

The Post's Journalistic Rules Are Kept Hidden From Readers

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

The public should have access to The Post's ethical and journalistic standards.

The Post's Changes, in Business News and Beyond

Sun, 29 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Fasten your seatbelts: the reduction and reorganization of the newspaper isn't complete.

Ombudsman -- The Post's Corrections Process Needs Correcting

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Sending a correction request to The Post can be like sending something into a black hole.

Lagging in the Fight for Open Government

Sun, 15 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Could Washington's leading newspaper do more to expose government secrets?

How to Create Future Readers

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EST

How newspapers can cultivate future readers.

Ombudsman Columns by Deborah Howell

Wed, 31 Dec 2008 00:00:00 EST