Saturday, April 2, 2011

Props To The Post-Dispatch

I've been pretty critical of St. Louis Post-Dispatch political reporting recently, but I'm happy to say that there have been several recent events that suggest that they may be bringing better balance and accuracy into their stories. First, I recently complained that the Post's website included an article about a puny 200 person tea party rally in Washington D.C., though they had previously ignored a 4,300 person union rally in St. Louis. After a Twitter exchange with an employee I posted the following update:
The Post-Dispatch Weatherbird suggests that AP articles automatically feed into the site:

It would be a little strange to me if there was no selection process whatsoever for which articles appear on their national news section, but perhaps this is accurate. However, this clearly would not be a good excuse for them deciding to run the story in the print edition tomorrow.
Well, it looks like the print edition got it right. In fact, it included the following passage in the story about the budget (h/t Hotflash at Show Me Progress):
Congressional leaders are inching closer to a deal on how much to cut federal spending for the next six months.
They seem to be pretty much ignoring the spending-cut absolutists of the Tea Party, the grass-roots movement that's losing influence despite having helped elect dozens of Republicans last November.

Tea Party activists had hoped to send a loud message Thursday to Republican lawmakers, telling them at a long-scheduled Capitol Hill rally either to stick to tough budget-slashing principles or face the movement's wrath.

Instead, only a few hundred people showed up.
I'm not sure I agree with this analysis since it seems to me that the House Republicans are paying far too much attention to the tea party given how much their "movement" has dissipated, but I appreciate the Post-Dispatch at least using an article that acknowledged the fact that the rally was overhyped and largely a failure.

I also recently criticized Post-Dispatch reporting generally, and Jake Wagman's reporting specifically, about the fact that they were stretching out the Claire McCaskill plane flap over a long period of time with numerous articles containing a dubiously small amount of additional substance. I would argue that no similar scrutiny or perseverance has been applied to examining the records of Ed Martin or Roy Blunt. However, today Jake Wagman published an impressive investigative piece on Peter Kinder billing taxpayers for what seems to be political or personal expenses, and Wagman did a fantastic job of collecting and organizing the information. Of course, in order to completely refute my previous criticisms and show me to be a frothing-at-the-mouth unhinged liberal blogger with an overzealous desire to criticize honest reporters, Wagman would have to continue to report on all of the twists and turns of the upcoming discussion of Kinder's records as he did with Senator McCaskill, and also to apply similar diligence to the records of Roy Blunt and Ed Martin, but he at least appears to be off to a good start.

Of course, none of this is to say that we don't need to continue building a progressive media voice in St. Louis via ForwardSTL. ForwardSTL was never intended as a replacement of the traditional media; it ideally will be a supplement to the traditional media that will ensure that a certain demographic of news and opinion consumers get the content they desire. Unlike the St. Louis Tea Party and Ed Martin, I don't want to see the Post-Dispatch go out of business, and I recognize the fact that they provide the region with crucial information. However, I do think we need to be diligent in keeping them honest, and that will include both criticizing them when they do their jobs poorly, and praising them when they get it right. Jake Wagman did a fantastic job on the Kinder story, and I hope this good work continues during some remarkable and important political times.


  1. I agree that the puny 200 person Tea Party Patriots rally Thursday was only token beltway astroturf. AP and cspan covered it when all the pro-union and progressive statehouse protests got only token local coverage. The only reason I can think of why is that there were at least two 2012 Teapublican candidates there: Pence and Bachmann. Political wonks have been gushing all week about how much $money they are raising. Cspan announced yesterday that Obama is expected to raise $1B. I checked and so far Obama fundraising has only started to raise $106M by the end of the year. $200M is required to begin running according to Washington Week/PBS. Its clear to everybody that it takes money to beat money in US Kleptocracy. Norm Chomsky has written books about how the money flows affect the media.