I recently received a comment criticizing my acceptance of free stuff from local businesses. It was written in a troll-like manner (which I’ve said, in my previous post about my blog commenting policy, I wouldn’t post) but I wanted to address the idea of accepting free things in a post.

Whenever I’ve accepted something for free, I’ve said so, and I’ve noted my reservations about it in the post. But, look, unless you’re one of my friends or family members who reads this blog, you don’t know me. I don’t know you. All you have is my word, and the fact that you don’t personally know me. It’s the Internet.

I promise to always say when I accept something free. And honestly, if anything, when accepting something free, I have huge reservations and worry more and am even more careful about writing something up than when I paid.

I have a degree in journalism (and English). Oh, but you can only take me on my word about that too, it’s the Internet and you don’t know me. The point is, I am fully aware of the ethical duties that come with accepting free services when one is a journalist. But, I’m not a journalist nor am I trying to be one. I’m a blogger. I will tell you what I think, I’m not impartial and I’m not trying to be.

My feeling is, as long as I disclose that I accept something free, and you take that for whatever it means, (whether it be that I had more praise for X business because they gave me something free or whether I was even more measured in my praise/criticism because I accepted something free) I think we’re fine. And if you don’t agree, I think that’s fine too. It’s my blog, and this is how I feel about accepting free stuff.

Look, Washington Post, I like you as a paper, generally. I think you do a good job covering national issues, I like your online chats and some of your blogs, but I have a huge issue with your laughable concept of local coverage. You are, whether you like it or not, published in Washington DC. You are not USA Today, a shamelessly national paper. Do a better job covering the city you’re published in.

If you can devote the resources it takes to write a 1305 word story (and take the time to email me, a local blogger, plugging the story) about post-ironic, quasi-hipsters and their trips to the freakin’ Target in Columbia Heights, you have the resources to write more than 42 words (!!) about this questionable, kind of scary Columbia Heights police shooting. This is a real story in the neighborhood, affecting people, hard news vs soft news as you in the J-business might call it. A man was shot and killed by a security guard at 9 pm on Friday night in Columbia Heights. Someone lost his life. Devote resources to a well-written, well researched article about that? Nah, let’s cover f&*#ing “hipsters” and their struggles with being all ironic and becoming domestic and suburban in hard-hitting Columbia Heights. ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!

Shame on you, Washington Post. No wonder newspapers are going to shit.

The Heights Life has more information about the homicide in Columbia Heights via an email from Council member Jim Graham:

According to MPD, just minutes ago, a 25 year old African American was shot dead in what is reportedly a drive by shooting on the 1300 block of Columbia Rd NW. A silver SUV was seen leaving the site. Police indicate that this as a targeted shooting.

There were many shots fired at 1310 Columbia Rd.

Another man with gun shot wounds apparently took himself to MedStar. It is not clear now whether there is any connection between the two shootings.

I’d like some more reporting on this story from local news outlets. I still can find nearly no information on this, let alone on the stabbing that was on my block a week ago. I’m just a lowly blogger with some experience in journalism, but I’m doing my best to stay informed.

UPDATE to the update: DCist is reporting that the homicide victim isn’t 25, but instead 17-year-old Paul Jones. Not sure who to believe, DCist via WJLA or Jim Graham.

Perusing some of the websites I checkout nearly every day, I come across this gem of a story from the Washington Post: Warm Conditions Offer Rare Chance to Dress Down – where yes, the whole stupid article is about how since it was warm yesterday people wore lighter clothes. REALLY? This article is perhaps the encapulation of what is wrong with old media.

This was a “oh crap nothing really happened this weekend in the district because it’s a holiday but we need an article to take up space” article. Snippets of the genius reporting:

Epic fail by the Washington Post

Fail by the Washington Post

“Despite overcast skies, drizzle and a breeze that put a slight chill in the air yesterday afternoon, T-shirts and light sweaters were out in force in front of the White House, along Pennsylvania Avenue. Tourists carried jackets under their arms, and scarves were loosened. More than a few people broke out flip-flops for the occasion.”

The reporter then needs some quotations, so he talks to a weatherman (ooooh) and a purveyor at the Dupont farmers market who claims they sold out of parsnips (WTF?).

This is what I hate about traditional media, a meaningless story just to take up space in the paper, and it needed to get out fast therefore lackluster reporting, pointless descriptions of tourists in flip-flops, and just stupidness. So much of old media is entrenched in old traditions that no longer make sense, but they stick to their mores because they don’t know what else to do. I ran across this a lot in journalism school, where I was penalized for having a too long lead, not including a quotation in the first third of the story, not telling a story in a “pyramid” theme… and I couldn’t help but think how pointless these conventions were and how they were going to kill traditional journalism. Well, here we are a few years later and traditional media is taking its last gasps of breath…