Monday, March 14, 2011

Christopher Ave's Inadequate Explanation of the Post-Dispatch Ignoring a 4,300 Person Labor Rally

I received an email response from Chrisopher Ave with a purported explanation of why the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shamefully ignored a pro-union rally of over 4,300 people last Friday in Kiener Plaza:
Thanks for taking the time to email. I'm sorry that we failed to cover Friday's rally. As you know, Friday was a very busy news day with two local court sentencings and the tragedy in Japan. We had a reporter at the rally, but he was called away to help cover local reactions to the tsunami. Our photographers were engaged covering the court developments that unfortunately were scheduled at the same time.

Again, thanks for expressing your views. While we don't cover every rally, this is one we should have covered. I'm sorry that we let you down in this case.


Christopher Ave
Political Editor
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
While I agree that the Tsunami was an shockingly tragic story and one well worth covering in the paper, this response strikes me as incredibly odd and stands in contradiction of previous comments. First of all, when the Post-Dispatch was criticized earlier for completely ignoring the protests in Wisconsin, their response was that they are a "local paper" focused on local news. This confirms what former columnist Sylvester Brown reported at the online organizing training in December, where he said he was continually told not to write about national issues at the Post. Yet when there's a huge pro-worker rally in St. Louis, all of a sudden they need all hands on deck to get local reactions to a story from across the world. Don't get me wrong: there's no question Tsunami coverage needed to be in the paper, but why send a reporter away from a rally in progress with 4,300 people? Also, Ave's response claimed that the reporter was called away "to help" get local reactions, which implied that there were already other reporters working on that story. Did they really need multiple people working on a nonlocal story? Shouldn't the main daily be prepared and able to cover multiple events? How hard would it have been for them simply to have included a photograph or a short paragraph that noted that 4,300 people rallied in downtown St. Louis?

Furthermore, compare this non-coverage to the fact that the Post-Dispatch bends over backwards to write a 600 word article about a tea party rally with 1/8 as many people last April. Would they even dream of ignoring a 1,000 person rally from the tea party, let alone a 4,000 person rally, in St. Louis? Of course not.

I don't think Ave's response is adequate. If Ave and the Post-Dispatch were really concerned, they could still find ways of writing about this story and informing their readers. But if they keep this shoddy coverage up, they're not going to have many readers left.


  1. When you are the only show in town, why should you care about the quality of your content. The Post is what it is; another St Louis Business Journal.

  2. I got the VERY same reply...a virtual form letter. Someone else just posted the SAME response to her email. What a joke the Post Dispatch has become.

  3. Pulled away to cover "local reaction" to the tsunami? Excuse me, but who gives a rat's ass what Joe Hoosier in south St. Louis thinks about the earthquake in Japan. Laughable.

  4. Don't forget that by the time the union rallied in Kiener Plaza, the tsunami story in Japan was already about 15-16 hours old. I had posted a reference to the tsunami at 12:46 am Friday morning and the rally was scheduled for 4:00 pm later that day.

    Did the Post-Dispatch sit on its hands for local reaction to that story? Just what did their reporters do the entire day that one couldn't stay at the union rally for reaction?