City Desk

Sherwood Irked at Kurtz

In his column today on the death of newspapers, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz makes an oft-made point: That without newspapers, the amount of investigative reporting out there in the world will dwindle. To buttress his point, he takes a shot at other media:

Local TV isn't likely to expose a crooked mayor, as the Detroit Free Press did.

Arguable point, especially to Tom Sherwood, the dean of reporting here in municipalDCworld. Sherwood quickly banged out an e-mail to Kurtz asking, "[W]hat prompted the wholesale, gratuitous slap at "local tv" not being worth anything when it comes to investigative, serious reporting?"

The tall, baritone-voiced local from WRC-TV has some bona fides in this area. As his missive points out, his reporting has gotten people fired and had policies changed in local government. And Sherwood advises Kurtz to look at the best reporting of local TV stations—you'll find some fine investigative work in there, he says. "A wholesale dismissal, I believe, was uncalled for in your otherwise important story."

"Important story" is a bit too much praise for this particular Kurtz piece. The Post's top media reporter, a very responsive soul, had this to say about the assertion: "I should have qualified the statement a bit; there are a relative handful of stations that do good investigative reporting. But I was talking about the big, sweeping, labor-intensive investigations that topple a mayor or expose sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Given the cutbacks in the broadcasting, those are rare indeed in local TV."

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  • Gumpper

    While Sherwood is sort of right, the fact is that local TV stations are cutting staff left and right -- fewer and fewer can afford someone like Sherwood. Also, because local TV has to pander to a variety of interests with fluff pieces, the time available for investigative reporting is quite limited. So, with all do respect to Sherwood, Kurtz's point is correct -- the death of newspapers is going to result in far less oversight of local government. Time for a Marion "Mayor for Life" Barry comeback?