City Desk

WaPo Seeking “Bottom-Line Profits”?

The Washington Post's Free for All section, published each Saturday, generally features commentary and sniping by some of the most sophisticated consumers of news anywhere. People contrive humorous jabs at the paper's beleaguered copy desk, question front-page display decisions, and quibble about everything.

One recent "Free for All" complaint has stuck with me for a couple of weeks, and not because of its wisdom and insight, but rather the opposite. Here it is, below:

Two Opinion Standards

Ombudsman Andrew Alexander's recent response to a complaint regarding inappropriate online reader comments was troubling ["Channeling Online Rage," Sunday Opinion, May 10].

The Post would never run letters in its print edition that are menacing or otherwise distasteful. The ombudsman admitted that a double standard exists for online content, and this is unfortunate. The Post should not abandon its editorial principles just because a document is viewed in a different medium.

The ombudsman's comment that such anonymous feedback drives readership suggested to me that The Post was willing to trade editorial integrity for bottom-line profits.

Andrew Wilson

So, I am thinking: How is it that this guy reads the ombudsman's column, yet has no idea that, like, the Post's newspaper division lost $53 million in the first quarter of 2009? Yeah, the paper is really racking up the profits from its comments pages. If only!

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