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  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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« Paper Money | Main | Just a Bit Over-Zell-ous »

July 22, 2008


Howard Owens

It's one thing to fault how the story was handled, another to question the value of the story.

Should Chandra Levy have gotten all the media attention she did/the story did in early 2001?

Probably not. Maybe even, absolutely not.

But it did. That makes it ripe for legitimate follow up today.

Should the post do an equally in-depth (if not more so) about black-on-black homicide? Without a doubt.

But is this an either/or case? No. To say so is a red herring. Both stories deserve coverage, and covering one doesn't make the other mutually excluded.


Oh, please spare me from 12-part series. Note the number of comments on the Post series dwindles daily, as I suspect does the readership of each episode. The multi-part series had its day before TV and other daily distractions, and the backlash to this one has been such that I doubt Brauchli will make the mistake again.


Multipart series' work best when they're a group of diverse stories around a general theme. To pull one out of my rear: a three to five part investigation of corruption in city government, school funding, etc. The idea is that the individual pieces are hardy enough to stand on their own even while the series adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

I'm not looking for a 12 part narrative on a single issue. The hardcore conspiracy theorists will just buy the book if they want something of that length. And in any case, this "presumption of innocence about 5 years too late" was done before, and in a better format -- John and Patsy Ramsey interviewed by Bill Curtis long after the story had faded from the headlines on A&E.

Now... A five part series on Missing Cute White Woman Syndrome, from Jon Benet to Nathalie Holloway? Confrontational interviews with the likes of Nancy Grace and other talking heads that have risen the crest to TV news stardom on the back of completely inflamatory and insane rhetoric about what is, in a country of 280 million people and 6 billion worldwide, a very minor issue?

I would have bought that. That's intelligent, it's something I'm interested in, and something I can't currently find elsewhere.

abdul rahim

the proper pronoun for Washington Post is it, not they, unless you plan to say "The Washington Post are."

the Levy series is an insult to readers. At this point, the Compost has not told readers anything new.

Mark Potts

Well, the newspaper ("it") did not choose the format of the series; the editors ("they") did. And since we're picking on style points, sentences usually start with capital letters. Thanks for your comment, though.


I can see both sides. There was a shooting, one of many, in DC the other day. A couple from Falls Church was on 9th Street NW. A group of six men approach in what may have been a carjacking. The driver tries to get away but someone fired a gun and killed the woman passenger.

This story, one of the more horrific stories in the daily slaughter here, was treated as a news brief. I haven't seen follow-up coverage (apologize if I missed it) so I don't know if it's been resolved. The story seems to merit attention and it isn't getring it. But most of murders of in city get very little attention.

I have been reading the Chandra Levy story and I think the reporting is very good. It seems as if they are framing a good argument for the most likely suspect in the case and you can only hope that the reporting is good enough to really connect someone with the crime.

The Post can't cover every murder in the city. I do hope one of the messages from the Chandra Levy series is that reporters/newspapers can do the job and have a role to play.

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