The Campaign Spot

Breaking Up With the Washington Post

Just about every morning, I drop my son off to day care, go to the coffee shop, and pick up a copy of the Washington Post. Sure, I don’t always agree with it, and have friends who work for the Washington Times and Washington Examiner, but for a long time, the Post was the biggest local paper – most news pages, most local coverage, most sports, most comics.

For the past year, the paper’s been getting thinner, a sign of the recession and fewer advertisers. At times, I’ve felt like I was picking up a newsprint promotional flyer for WashingtonPost.com. In today’s paper, just in the first section, I’m urged to visit the web site on pages A2, A3, A4, A8, A13, A15, and A17. Yeah, I’m sure all the web stuff is great, pal, but I just spent 75 cents on the paper version.

And then, week by week, it seemed like the Post editors were trying to chase me away.

Strike one was the book review by Jessica Cutler, a.k.a. Washingtonienne, a woman to catapulted to a certain amount of fame and fortune by blogging about how she had sex for money.

Strike two was the food column by Ezra Klein. Sure, I don’t agree with Klein’s politics, but some aspects of the world are delightfully apolitical, and if beer can bring a cop and a Harvard professor together, maybe Klein could offer something intriguing to my stomach. But no; the first column of his I read was about how we ought to eat less meat to fight global warming, and subsequent columns have been on similar theme. Sorry, I don’t need politics on my food page, particularly nagging politics.

And today, in a front-page story, the Post feels the need to rehash how Bob McDonnell responded to a 2003 question of whether he committed sodomy. Never mind that he’s served as the state’s attorney general since then. Never mind all the other issues affecting a state that’s still deep in recession and with a budget in crisis; this is what the Post thinks I need to hear about the most. I’m not coming at this particular race as a political guy; I’m coming at it as a constituent, and comparing the candidates’ history of sodomy just isn’t among my top one hundred issues.

Strike three. I just don’t need to plunk down three quarters for that. Whatever coverage I need to read for work, I can find on that web site that they keep urging me to visit on every other page.

I don’t hate the Washington Post; hell, I’ve written for the Post’s Federal Page a few times. But it isn’t the same paper it used to be; at times I’m not sure the current staff takes their jobs seriously anymore. Whatever they’re thinking over there, it seems I’m no longer a demographic they’re interested in keeping.

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