Friday, February 29, 2008


Marxist journalist I.F. Stone famously observed that the Washington Post "is a great paper. You never know on what page you will find a page-one story."

Young's Corollary: What makes the Potomac News a worthless rag is the fact that you never know what you'll find, if anything.

Today was a good example. One reads the tease just below the masthead: "Rights denied? State ACLU sues county over voter ID A3."

Sounded interesting. I always like to follow efforts to facilitate voter fraud.

So I turned to page A3. Nice story on "City man sentenced for immigration fraud." Another on "Marshall to hold press conference on gun bill." A third on "Lawyers advise immigrants before county crackdown." A photo from AP about a dog rescue in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, just up the Susquehanna River from where I was raised. Oh, and more than a half-page of advertising.

But no story about the ACLU and its lawsuit. So I looked throughout the news section with a keen eye. Nothing on the front page. Nothing on page A2. Page A4? Well there were the obituaries, the police blotter, and a few more news stories. Oh, and the same story on "Lawyers advise immigrants before county crackdown." Word for word. Nothing on page A5. The op-eds on page A6. A story on street racing with a catchy reference to James Dean on page A7. And on the last page of the section, A8? Weather, and two other news stories.

But no story anywhere on the ACLU and its lawsuit.

I have a fairly low opinion of the Pot. News, and particularly its Executive Editor, Susan Svihlik, who discontinued my column --- arguably, the most influential political column in Prince William County at the time --- with no warning whatsoever, and then lied about it afterword (she said she received only one complaint, but I was blind-copied on about a dozen e-mails of complaint).

But this is just plain incompetence. You can't get a promised story into the paper, and then repeat the same story twice? Wow.

On second thought, just about what I'd expect.

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