Let’s recount what evidence the paper had at that point.
1) An eyewitness account called in by an editorial aide shortly
after the incident occurred. The aide said that the cop actuallydid pull out a gun, not that he “may” have; and
2) Video and photos that clearly corroborate the eyewitness account of thePostnewsroom employee.
Yet thePoststill couldn’t bring itself to say that an
officer had actually taken out his gun at a snowball fight. Not, at
least, until the print editions hit the streets over the next couple of
days—which is among the great points made on this issue by blogger bsom.
How’d this happen? Not clear at this point. Zapotosky has failed to
return numerous requests for comment, as has top local editorEmilio Garcia-Ruiz.
Yet the reason why thePostscrewed this up is that they all have linkophobia. If you link to an outlet—such as, God forbid, theWashington City Paper—you’ve
lost. You got scooped and all your colleagues are going to look down on
you. Linking is a huge sign of weakness—you just can’t do it. Far
better to, like, call a top police official, buy his version of events,
and just place it in a post, regardless of the contradicting evidence
that’s already posted elsewhere.
Take a close look at that 10:20 update on the maybe-gun-pulling cop:
“The plainclothes D.C. police detective may have unholstered his pistol
during the confrontation with participants in the huge snowball fight, based on video and photos posted on the Internet.”
Bold and italics are mine. They’re mine because this is the most
cowardly, selfish, arrogant news conduct out there today. What the fuck
is “video and photos posted on the Internet”? How does that help
readers? It’s as if I can go to http://www.internet.com, and there, on the
first screen, will be the video and photos of the snowball fight and
the maybe-gun-wielding cop. “Posted on the Internet” would be
acceptable if this were 1997.
The reporters used this hazy phrasing because they were too
chicken-shit to do something that we all have learned to do over the
past, say, decade or more. And that’s to link to competitors and
acknowledge their contributions to stories.
Look, nobody likes admitting they got stomped. But the Post in part got stomped because it refused to believe its own editorial aide, and that’s just stupid. Sack up, admit you got stomped, and move. Flap around, wank in public, and this becomes a two-week embarrassment to us all.
But knowing big-city papers and how they treat their poorer competitors the way I do, they’d rather die than acknowledge the smaller papers exist. Tell them you work somewhere with a lesser circ and you’ll get a pat on the head, like what you do isn’t EXACTLY the same thing they do, like you don’t understand some mythical thing. What the fuck ever. You can go and take the story away from your competitors by reporting it better, but it’s cowardice in the extreme to ignore facts right in front of your face because you just don’ wanna. How does that help you in any way?