Many Hands at Post Cover Mayoral Debate
How many Washington Post hands did it take to cover the no-show by Mayor Adrian Fenty at The Great Education Debate on Monday evening? Short answer: 10 hands from five journalists, namely reporters Nikita Stewart, Mike DeBonis and Bill Turque, editorial page writer Jo-Ann Armao and columnist Robert McCartney. That's how many we counted from the Post, where the Big News was the no-show, leaving the stage to challenger Council Chairman Vincent Gray.
But the Post quintet couldn't get the headline and story in synch in Tuesday’s paper. At least not the way we read it. The headline on Page One of Metro got it right: “Fenty a no-show at schools debate,” but the story, by Stewart and Turque, led with a quote from Gray about his position on retaining schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee: "D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray said Monday night that if he definitely intended to fire schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee after becoming mayor, he 'would say so,'" was the head-scratcher lead.
It wasn't until the end of the second paragraph that this sentence appeared: “But Fenty did not attend.”
On the other hand, the Washington Examiner story by Bill Myers had this headline, “Fenty pulls out of education debate” and a lead sentence that picked up on the Fenty no-show: “Mayor Adrian Fenty begged off a key education reform debate on Monday and some in his inner circle are privately wondering if he's as committed to retaining his office as he was to winning it.”
The Post has been criticized for showing a pro-Fenty tilt already explicit on the editorial page. As reported in The Georgetown Dish, the newspaper removed a blog post by reporter Turque earlier this year pointing out discrepancies between "facts" reported in the news pages versus those in numerous pro-Fenty editorials in the Post.
The Post's Bill Turque, education reporter, and Mike DeBonis, blogger and columnist at The Great Education Debate
Robert McCartney, Post columnist, after the Debate