WaPo ombudsman: “Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards”
posted at 6:02 pm on February 10, 2007 by Allahpundit
By which she means the print version of the paper, not the online version that hosts his blog. (Although, according to the editor of WaPo.com, Arkin’s column didn’t meet his standards, either.) It seems there’s a big difference between the fast-paced, seat-o’-the-pants standards of the electronic edition and the tough, exacting editorial scrutiny demonstrated by the ink-and-paper crew when they’re taking dictation from Carl Levin and rushing into print every crumb of Bush-bashing garbage that falls from his mouth.
Nice to see they think so highly of their Internet presence, though.
Did one online column irreparably damage Post national security journalism? No. But it does show that an online column rubs off on the newspaper. Opinions on Arkin vary among Post reporters who write about the military and national security. Some respect him; others think he harms The Post’s reputation…
Arkin apologized. He said he was “dead wrong” to use the word “mercenary,” that it “is an insult and pejorative, and it does not accurately describe the condition of the American soldier today. I sincerely apologize to anyone in the military who took my words literally.”…
An editor read his column before it was posted but didn’t see the problem. Jim Brady, washingtonpost.com’s executive editor, said that had he seen it, he would have asked for changes. Arkin said he would have made them.
What’s the difference between opinion writing for the newspaper and for washingtonpost.com? The writing can be similar, but the editing is more intense at the newspaper. More experienced eyes see a story or a column before it goes into the paper; The Post has several levels of rigorous editing. There is “less of an editing process” for blogs at the more immediacy-oriented Web site, Brady said…
Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards, but then, newspaper editing isn’t perfect, either. But “mercenary” surely is live ammo; such an incidendiary word should have popped out in flames to most Post editors.
Exit question: How is it that most bloggers manage to avoid comparing U.S. troops to guns for hire with no editorial oversight whatsoever, yet WaPo.com needs at least two editors to hold their guys back?
Update: Arkin doesn’t meet the Post’s standards, but he certainly meets Keith Olbermann’s.