Friend and fellow THIH writer Liz Festa and I were chatting yesterday, when the conversation turned to the day’s happenings. She’d heard that Peabody Elementary had been evacuated on account of a suspicious package, but was there any additional information? The listservs, usually abuzz with information, were very quiet. Our mutual friend/THIH founder Kate McFadden had sent along an article from wamu.com that stated originally that seven (later updated to 20) schools had been sent packages. I had also seen a few Tweets from Ward 6 councilmember Tommy Wells (@tommywells), DCFD (@dcfireems), and DCist (@DCist_updates) telling the story of how between 25 and 29 of our city’s elementary, middle and high schools had been sent these packages, forcing DCPS to evacuate the schools and contact the FBI. The packages were later found to contain no harmful substances. DCFD tweeted last night that DCPS would be resuming normal activities today, Friday 6 May. A summary check of the front page of the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times and WTOP.com revealed that they all felt it was necessary to cover this story– one that was probably a tasteless prank, but with an uneventful ending.
What was the Washington Post tweeting about? The Kentucky Derby!
Its local coverage on the front page of its website– appropriately well below the fold and in a font reserved to best be read by ants– featured only a commentary on ADHD along with two other lifestyle stories. There was absolutely no mention of the incident in their own backyard until this morning. The story is now featured on their Twitter stream, added a few minutes before 8 am.
You may say, “Well, perhaps the Post just wanted to make sure it had all the facts before it published its story!” After all, in none of the other reports do we learn that the packages were sent from Dallas and all had a letter that included the phrase, “FROM ALQEDA-FBI” But the truth is that the Washington Post sometimes treats its eponymous city with less regard than any other city in the country, neglecting to feature content that other local media outlets routinely pick up and paying entirely too much homage to that Other Washington– the one that is a governing organism and not a city made of people who would like to know, in a timely fashion, just what the heck went on with their child’s school yesterday.