I wasn’t the only one to write a letter complaining about the press coverage of the anti-war march. The letters were noticed; yesterday, the Washington Post’s Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, responded to the complaints:
Protest coverage routinely draws complaints, but objections to the story, headline and photos on the Sept. 15 rallies for and against the Iraq war were unusually valid.
The story did not say that the antiwar protest was exponentially larger than the pro-war demonstration. The headline and photo display exacerbated the problem.
The headline read: “Dueling Demonstrations.” The subhead read: “As Thousands March to the Capitol to Protest Iraq Conflict, 189 Arrested; War Supporters Take on ‘Vocal Minority.’ ” Absent an explanation, a reader might think that the war supporters were in the majority.
Ms Howell does not address the other points of complaint, particularly the strong focus on a small number of arrests in a large and peaceful demonstration. I must guess, from that omission, that she considers that aspect of the coverage to be appropriate.
I thank Ms Howell for her comments, and I’m pleased that the Washington Post has acknowledged the problems with the article’s depiction of the relative significance of the counter-demonstration.
Her comments include a pointer to an image of the print edition of the original article.
[Hat tip to Gabe Goldberg.]